Frequently Asked Questions


What is the One-Year Conservatory?


Our One-Year Conservatory is designed to give serious actors the tools they need to develop a career in the theatre. The program is constructed to enhance all elements of the actor's instrument and craft. Many different disciplines and approaches are included to enable the actor to develop artistically and to grow as an individual. Though the teachers have different backgrounds, they have in common the commitment and passion to help actors develop an acting method of their own and construct a life as a performer - a life that will include the legitimate stage, film, television, and new media. The classes offered focus not only on artistic and creative growth, but also on strategies to help students understand the business of acting.


The year culminates with a full production at our Studio followed by a showcase. At the conclusion of each year, we are pleased to see our graduates go on to work in film, television, and theater. Many of our former Conservatory students continue to take professional classes at Michael Howard Studios, which is proud to serve them as an artistic home well into their careers.


What is the Two-Year Conservatory?


The Two-Year Conservatory takes each actor through the intensive training of the first year, then continues into the second year of mentorship, advanced classes, master intensives, and production, including stage and camera.  They are mentored by industry professionals on a daily basis.  During this time, actors continue to audition and book professional work.  The experience is unparalleled. 


What is the application and audition process?


Michael Howard Studios requires prospective students to apply for all conservatory programs.  Each program requires applicants to provide recommendation letters, professional references, headshot/resume, and $35 non-refundable application fee.  Applicants for the One and Two-Year Conservatories must audition with two contrasting monologues, no longer than 2 minutes each.  The audition will also consist of an extensive interview, where the applicant will have an opportunity to ask questions about all aspects of the program.  We do accept DVD Auditions and phone interviews if necessary.   DVD’s must be in the NTSC format for American players. Applicants will be notified in writing regarding their acceptance to the programs. 


What is the Summer Conservatory?


Our Summer Conservatory is a rigorous curriculum for the serious actor. What has become one of the most successful summer programs in the country is geared towards university students and professionals looking for an opportunity to work on their craft full-time against the backdrop of summer in New York City . Actors find the intensive immersion of the Summer Conservatory to be an exciting, life-changing experience.


With an emphasis on classes that develop the actor’s instrument, our full-time, six-week program leads actors towards a deeper understanding, not only of their craft, but of themselves. Our summer intensives include classes in Acting Techniques, the Business of Acting, Clown, Improvisation, Movement, Scene Study, Shakespeare, and Voice -- all taught by Michael Howard Studios’ preeminent faculty.


We offer daytime and evening curriculums. The prices are listed on the applications or by calling the office at 212-645-1525.


How much training is required for your conservatory programs?


Michael Howard Studios takes into account many factors when considering applicants for our Summer, One, and Two-Year Conservatory programs.  Natural talent, potential, and drive are given equal consideration along with prior training.  Some of our actors studied in top schools around the country, some have already amassed professional credits, while others are in the beginning stages of their professional training.  An understanding of the fundamentals of acting is required, and our studio offers courses to assist actors to prepare for the rigors of our conservatory programs.


What are the dates and hours?


The 2011 Summer Conservatory will be June through August. For the daytime sections, classes are Monday through Friday and usually run from 9am until 5pm (with breaks for lunch, etc.). The evening section usually runs daily from 6pm to 10pm. There are no classes on July 4.  Students should also be expected to put in substantial time for rehearsal and class preparation.


The One-Year Conservatory is held from September through June. Classes meet from 9am to 2pm*, Monday through Friday. The schedule is designed so that actors may pursue work while studying. It is our belief that work and study complement each other, and so we provide a situation that enables our students to do both.


The program also offers students the option of attending our professional evening classes and workshops beginning in January. For students whose resources and schedule allow them flexibility to participate in these classes, it is an opportunity to continue their study among the working actors and theatre artists who are valued members of the Studio community. 


*some coursework will exceed these class times



What is the curriculum of the Conservatories?


In the Summer Conservatory, a large emphasis is placed on Vocal Production Classes taught by David Wells and/or Body classes. We include a large number of hours for these physical instrument classes to take full advantage of the fact that our actors are here everyday. Actors change a great deal when given this kind of work on a daily basis. The rest of the time is dedicated to a variety of acting classes, which include Acting Techniques, Camera, Improvisation, Sensory Technique, Shakespeare, and Scene Study, all taught by the professional faculty of the Studio as well as master classes. Other classes that have traditionally been offered (depending on the availability of faculty) include Clown, Mask, and a Business of Acting Seminar.


The One-Year Conservatory is divided into three segments. From September until the winter break at the end of December, the Conservatory schedule focuses on the essentials of the craft. Instruction during this period includes the following classes:


  1. Acting Technique/Scene Study


• Acting for Film and Television


• The Actor’s Voice


• Improvisation


• Movement


  1. Shakespeare


  1. Text Analysis


Many of these classes continue when the Conservatory resumes in January. At this point we also bring in new faculty to teach specialized workshops that are essential to the actor’s craft. In the past, we have offered a series of Acting as a Business Seminars, Clown, Mask, Commercial Technique, Sensory, Comedy, and many others.


For students who choose to pursue Plan B or Plan C, January also marks the beginning of their study in our ongoing professional classes. Students who choose Plan B will be entered into one of our ongoing Scene Study classes, which are populated by professional working actors and taught by the Studios’ most experienced and accomplished faculty, including Michael Howard, Polina Klimovitskaya, Greg Mullavey, Jim Shankman, Angela  Pietropinto, Gabrielle Berberich, and Naomi Thornton.


In addition to joining one of the ongoing Scene Study classes, students who pursue Plan C will be admitted into two professional workshops: these workshops might include Movement, Shakespeare or Voice, Comedy, Solo Performance; intensives in Audition Technique or Camera Technique; or classes in Commercial Skills, Daytime Drama, or Voice-Over Technique.


Beginning in April, focus shifts from studio instruction to production work, as students and faculty work and rehearse together to produce a full-length production as well as a showcase.


What do the productions entail?


There are two completely different productions mounted for the One-Year Conservatory. Our main production is designed for you to apply what you have learned in the program. There is a 5-week rehearsal process and full production values. The Studio encourages students to have family and friends attend the performances. Then a short break is taken and ten days are spent putting together an industry showcase. Made up entirely of a combination of scenes and original work, it is designed to put the actors in their best light.  The showcase is performed for a packed house of agents, casting directors, managers, and producers.


Why is your One-Year Program scheduled during the day?


One of the advantages of our core program, which ends at 2:00 PM every day, is that the students can schedule auditions, hold jobs and/or pursue other interests while they are studying. From another perspective, the Conservatory provides a supportive nurturing environment while actors are dealing with the challenges of establishing or continuing a professional life and/or acclimating themselves to New York.



How much is the program?


The One-Year Conservatory tuition 2009/2010 ranges from approximately $17,000 to $20,000.  This does not include housing and other living expenses associated with living in New York City.  We accept checks, money orders, cash, and credit cards.  Because we are a private studio with a select group of conservatory actors, we are unable to offer deposit refunds at any time. 


Are there scholarships or work-study programs?


The Michael Howard Studios is a private studio – not a school – and so we are only able to offer financial assistance or arrangements on a strictly limited basis.  In May 2009, Michael Howard Studios established the “Michael and Betty Howard Scholarship for Artistic Excellence” to be bestowed upon one select actor to attend our conservatory. 


Do you offer housing and meal plans?


The Summer Conservatory has traditionally offered housing to students.  Please let the Studio know if you are interested in the housing plan for the Summer, and we will be sure to send you more information.  We do not offer housing for the One-Year Conservatory. 


If I have other questions...


Please feel free to ask any questions you may have by calling our offices at 212/645-1525 and speak with Conservatory and Programs Manager, Jessica Corn or email jessica@michaelhowardstudios.com .



Some words from former Conservatory students:


Michael Howard Studios gave me the individual attention I needed to hone my skills. Their focus on all elements of acting was vital to the development of my personal craft.

-- Anson Mount, star of the upcoming features “Walk the Talk” and “The Cure”


The invaluable training and intensive study allowed me to pursue the craft on a full-time basis. I was introduced to so many techniques for using my mind and body for expression that I was able to find what works best for me. Not only did I find focus, I learned that professional acting was what I wanted to do with my life.

-- Kerry Washington, co-star with Academy Award Winning Best Actor, Forest Whitaker, in “The Last King of Scotland”


Both the Summer and One-Year Conservatory at MHS changed my life without question.  Not only did they make me a better actress, they also made me a better person.

-- Annalaina Marks, “Made of Honor”, “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past”


The Conservatory was one of the truly great experiences in my life. It not only gave me the foundation for learning the art of acting and the seeds for success, but it has helped shape me into the human being I am today. For as long as I have searched for other methods, teachers, and studios, I always end up coming back to Michael Howard Studios. You have succeeded in creating a healthy and productive learning and working environment. I will be forever grateful for the experience.

-- Jakob Hawkins, star of the recent independent film “Divergence.”


The One Year Conservatory was the best money I have ever spent on my career. The amazing teachers helped me discover a technique that works for ME by exposing me to many different aspects of theatrical training. When I go into an audition or rehearsal now I feel as if I am taking an army of MHS Conservatory teachers with me. Within two months of completion of the Conservatory I received an Equity contract for a production of Dracula at Delaware Stage.

-- Peter Bisgaier, Conservatory Graduate


The one-year conservatory at Michael Howard Studios gave me all the technique, confidence and experience necessary to succeed in film/television as well as Broadway plays. I was able to explore all aspects of my craft as well as myself as an actor, and utilize my natural talents more effectively after studying with such a wide variety of experience and gifted teachers. Every important type of class is covered from scene study to clown to Shakespeare, making it a very rounded and complete year. They were able to pack the typical two year conservatory into one, giving me an extra year free to audition with the confidence and skill I needed to land some big roles.

Thanks everyone at Michael Howard!
-Zander Gladish, Conservatory Graduate


The One-Year Conservatory is by far one of the best decisions I have ever made for my career. I gained more knowledge and experience in 9 months than I could have ever imagined. The teachers at MHS are among the best in their field and they really work one-on-one to make sure the students are absorbing all they have to offer. If you are looking for a place that is serious about the art of acting- you have found it!

-- Mindy Raymond, Conservatory Graduate



I just want to say thank you for letting me be part of the most amazing experience I have ever had in my life. I learned so much about myself these past six weeks that I would have never learned anywhere else. The training, the friendships, and the whole experience as a whole will now stay with me the rest of my life.

--James O'Brien, Summer and One-Year Conservatory Graduate

 
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