Boston University, Thoughts about the BFA Program
I’ve been getting a few requests about what my audition experience was like and the BFA program at BU so I figured why not make a post.
I auditioned for BFA programs my senior year of high school, 2010. I auditioned at:
Point Park University
Carnegie Mellon University
New York University
University of Illinois- Chicago
I additionally had safe schools which I did not apply for a BFA.
Auditions were pretty the same overall, two monologues contrasting (only BU and CMU required one contemporary and one classical), you go in slate, perform, talk a little, or maybe not at all and leave.
I was super fortunate and got in to all but two schools. In the end, I choose BU because I liked the idea that studying abroad was mandatory and there seemed to be a really fantastic sense of family there.
I believe, that if you want to learn how to be an artist,how to generate meaningful work and feel extremely artistically and spiritually fulfilled Boston University is the place for you.
**warning cheesiness ahead
There were 39 of us admitted to the Freshman year. By our senior year there was 37. BU’s strongest asset is the connections it creates within the class between the professors, the students, and each other. Freshman year they focus on leveling the playing field so everyone is coming to the work with a clean slate. This means that the school doesn’t necessarily become a hyper competitive and toxic place where people fight against one another to see who is best, but use each other and help one another grow. My classmates are some of my best friends, they are my family, my support group, everything really. I know I can turn to them and ask for help and they will open their arms to me and vice versa. With this supportive environment it’s super easy to learn to fail and try and fail and try again and again, because you have such a great group of people who will catch you when you fall.
**end of cheesiness
Now, the program! I’ll sum it up as succinctly and best I can,
Freshman year all students are enrolled in what’s known as Performance Core. The year focuses on basic skills, ensemble building, and you figuring out who you are as a person and how and why you are that way. A lot of introspective work and time. The school knows it’s asking a lot of you emotionally and so there are many health matinees (blocks of time where people talk to you) about physical, emotional and mental health. You’ll take, Voice and Speech, Alexander Technique, Movement, Acting, Drama Lit, Theatre Ensemble, a writing class, and more. Freshman aren’t allowed to perform in shows so every week you have a class called Locals which is the entire class existing and performing in a free safe place for one another. (Freshman year, I dumped a gallon of fake blood on my head….you can literally do anything)
Sophomore year you will have declared your major. Either a BFA in Acting or a BFA in Theatre Arts. Both majors are just different ways to a similar end. The Acting major focuses on acting and has a very set schedule all three years. You sign up for the acting major sophomore year and you know then what classes you’ll be taking senior year. Core acting classes are taken every year including acting, voice and speech, alexander technique, and movement. Acting majors are required to perform in shows every quarter starting the second semester of the Sophomore year and their senior year ends in an acting thesis: a 25-45 minute one person show containing ten different beats.
The Theatre Arts major allows the student to devise their own way of studying. If you’re interested in acting but also directing you can add lots of directing classes. Other students havve focused on playwrighting, dramaturgy, dance, and even outside theatre studies. Casting is not mandatory and you can also apply to assistant direct a show or take a quarter off to write a play. Acting classes are a tiny bit more geared through physical acting Grotowsky technique and the Theatre Arts thesis is when all Theatre Arts majors create a theatre group and produce, direct, act, or write their own productions.
For Acting majors the first semester of Junior year is focused on all things classical. Students are trained in armed combat and classes focus on Shakespeare’s text. The second semester the students fly the coup! Usually going to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art or the Accademia de’ll Arte in Arezzo, Italy; however you can go anywhere, we’ve had people go to India, Australia and Africa even.
After the junior year students return for senior year.
Acting majors focus on their thesis the first semester and Theatre Arts focus on it all year with their thesis’ being performed in the last quarter. Senior year also takes a look at the professional world and the students place in it. You’ll take a class with the indomitable Mary V. Buck who will tell you how the world will see you and act as general bad ass adviser. Boston University has a showcase in NY over spring break and Boston later on. Usually, there are a group of students who will also fly to LA for a meet and greet cocktail kind of thing.
Ok, this is a lot,any questions hit me up.
Hyménée - Nicolas Gogol
Vraiment, c’est bien embarrassant de choisir, s’il n’y en avais qu’un ou deux, mais ils sont quatre! Va donc choisir! Nicanor Ivanitch Anoutchkine n’est pas mal, bien qu’un peu maigre. Ivan Kouzmitch Podkoliossine non plus n’est pas mal. Et à dire vrai Ivan Pavlocitch Omelette n’est pas mal non plus, bien qu’un peu trop gros, c’est un homme imposant. Balthazar Balthazaritch Jévakine a lui aussi des qualités. Ah! comme il est difficile de se décider, je ne sais que faire! Si au-dessus des lèvre de Nicanor Ivanitch on pouvait planter le nez de Ivan Kouzmitch, et si on pouvait prendre un peu de la désinvolture de Balthazar Balthzaritch et ajouter à tout cela l’embonpoint d’Ivan Pavlovitch, alors mon choix serait vite fait. Tandis que maintenant, j’en ai la migraine rien que d’y penser. Je crois que le mieux serait encore de tirer au sort. S’en remettre à la volonté de Dieu; celui qui sortira sera mon mari. Je vais écrire leur nom sur un bout de papier, les plier et ensuite advienne que pourra.
The Food Chain/ Amanda/ Nicky Silver
SoI was reading my paper when the waiter came over and asked if I was…alone. Well! It was obvious that I was alone! I was sitting there, in a booth, by myself -did he think I thought I had an imaginary friend with me?! I was alone! Did he have to rub it in? Was he trying to be funny? Did he think he was, in some way, better than me? It was in his tone. He said, ‘Are you alone?’ But what he meant to say was, ’You’re alone. Aren’t you?!’ And I can’t imagine he’s not alone every single day of his miserable , pathetic life! He has terrible skin. And it’s not attractive. Not the way bad skin is attractive on some people. On some men!!! I’ve strayed. The point is this waiter has terrible skin, and greasy hair and his breath stinks of something dead and his face is too entirely close to mine. I want to pick up my butter knife and stab him in his sunken caved-in chest! But I simply respond
'No, I'm married thank you'
I realize now, of course, that my answer was illogical. I realize that it was innapropriate. But at the time it was all I could think of to say.
Well he leans back and really in the the most supercillious manner, he leers at me and intones, ‘I meant are you eating alone.’ ‘I KNEW WHAT YOU MEANT! I KNEW WHAT HE MEANT!’ I’m not a person who shouts, generally. I don’t like shouting. It hurts to shout and it hurts to be shouted at. But I shouted. I was standing. I must’ve leapt up when I shouted. So I was standing and everyone was staring at me. The place was very crowded, much more crowded than I ever recall seeing it before.
Pterodactyls/ Emma/ Nicky Silver
Hello everybody. I’m dead. How are you? I’m glad I killed myself. I’m not reccomending it for others, mind you - no Dr. Kevorkian am I. But it’s worked out for me. Looking back, I don’t think I ever was supposed to have been born with to begin with. Of course, the idea that ‘supposed to be’ implies a master plan„ and I don’t believe in that kind of thing. When I say I shouldn’t have been born, I mean that my life was never all that pleasant. And there was no real reason for it. I was pretty. I had money. I was lucky enough to be born into a time and a class where I had nothing but opportunities. I look around and there is crippled people and blind people and refugees and I can’t believe I had the gall to whine about anything! I had my health - oh sure, I complained a lot, but really I was fine. And I had love! Granted the object of my affections was a latent, or not-so-latent homosexual as it turned out who was affected with the HIV virus, who in turn infected me and my unborn baby—but isn’t that really picking nits? I can never thank Todd enough for giving me the gun, because for the first time, I’m happy. The pain is gone and I remember everything. Tommy is here but we’re not speaking. He spends all his time with Montgomery Clift and George Cukor talking about movies. I assume. And I’ve been reunited with Alice Paulker. We went to school together. She was shot last year by a disgruntled postal worker. She has long wavy brown hair and skin so pale you can see right through it - I don’t mean it’s really transparent and you can see her guts and everything. It’s just pale. And she has very big eyes. Green. And we listen to music and go for walks. And take turns read aloud to each other. She reads poems by Emily Bronte and I read chapters from The Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller. She was always classier than me. And sometimes we just hold each other. and I run my fingers through her hair and she touches her lips, gently, along my cheek. She makes soft sounds, comforting sounds and she takes her time and runs her tongue around the edge of my ear. We take off our clothes and just look at each other. I was shy at first, but Alice helped me and never rushed me. She held my breasts in her hand and ran her lips between them, down my stomach. I touch her eyelids and her forehead and her hair and her fingers and the back of her neck. And she enters me and I am everywhere at once and nowhere at all. And I remember everything and find that nothing matters. And for a moment, for a moment or two that lasts forever we become one person. And I forget, we forget, that we were ever alive. And everything makes perfect sense.
The Metal Children/ Adam Rapp/ Vera
Why get pregnant? Because we can. Existentially speaking, aside from suicide, it’s the most meaningful choice a young woman can make. We control our own fate. Not parents or priests or politicians. Not coaches or teachers of textbooks preapproved by the educational oligarchy. Not middle aged men with prostate problems and hairy ears. We get pregnant, our community automatically exiles us, our parents disown us. No man wants to be with a single teen mother. We take control of our destiny. Whether you like it or not, your novel showed us that, Mr. Falmouth. Now we only have about thirty minutes. before my aunt starts making rounds of the units. Do you have any sexually transmitted diseases. I’m ovulating and actually quite excited about the prospect of the creator of our great text being my host. There’s powerful poetry at play. You’re not sterile are you? Your fertility is sort of paramount to this actually happening Mr. Falmouth.
The Optimist/ Jason Chimonides/ Declan
I am obsessed. It’s startling, isn’t it? I mean, look out there. Every one of those tragic bipeds, indeed, each and every one of us, Noel is the result of a single tussled gooey act of sex. What if you could see it? Through some sort of crazy telekinetic, portal thing? What if you could see in like, this searing flash, the fuck from whence they came? Like this fat Asian guy,- “reverse cowgirl”?… or that crumpled granny woman over there, with the Medicaid sunglasses on: a melancholic missionary position. Certainly not, “upright doggy”…”suspended Congress” maybe? I wonder what it was like when we were conceived. Probably Mom was on top. I wouldn’t doubt it. I bet she was a hellcat in her day. I hope we were conceived in like a sweaty, febrile, primate kinda way. Not in the sort of lovey dovey Sunday afternoon kinda way. I hope it was like: teeth gnashing, feet folding, tangled sheets kinda sex.
"I ate the divorce papers"
Monologue is from play “Goodbye Charles” by Gabriel Davis
I ate them. That’s right. I ate the divorce papers, Charles. I ate them with ketchup. And they were good…goooood. You probably want me to get serious about our divorce. The thing is you always called our marriage a joke. So let’s use logic here: If A we never had a serious marriage then B we can’t have a serious divorce. No. We can’t. The whole thing’s a farce, Charles – a farce that tastes good with ketchup.
I mean, wasn’t it last week, your dad asked you the reason you walked down that aisle with me, and you said “for the exercise.” Ha, ha. That’s funny. You’re a funny guy, Charles. I’m laughing, not a crying. Ha, ha. I’m laughing because you’re about to give up on a woman who is infinitely lovable.
Continue reading on Gabriel’s website, Monologue Genie!
Venus in Fur/ David Ives/ Vanda
Knock knock knock! Am I too late? I’m too late, right? Fuck. Fuck! God, I’m so sorry, I am so, so, sorry. I got caught like way uptown and my cell went out. Then my fucking heel get’s stuck in one of those sewer- cover- thing whatevers. Then there’s this guy from the train, I don’t even want to tell you about him, rubbing up against my ass the whole trip. Then it starts to pour. I get soaked through to the fucking skin. Fuck. Fuck! I’m ok. Just my usual luck is all. Thank you. God, once again! Hi! I’m sorry. Vanda Jordan. See what I mean? I’ve even got her name! How many girls in this town are called Vanda? Actually I’m Wanda but my parents call me Vanda. Anyway, I’m like perfect for the part and the fucking train gets stuck in a tunnel while this guys trying to penetrate me. Talk about fate. And you are Thomas Novacheck. God, I love your plays! I mean the ones I know. Anatomy of Shadows? Like Wow, Anatomy of Shadows was amazing! I saw it twice! […] Right, right. I mean you know, the other one. Anyway. God this is embarrassing. This play sure is amazing. I mean the parts of it I read. Pretty wild stuff.
Fat Men in Skirts/ Nicky Silver/ Popo Martin
I am Popo Martin. My friends call me Popo martin. Dr. Nester says I am a paranoid skitzophrenic. I think I have Marnie’s disease. You know, like Tippi Hedren in that movie. When I see red, I see red! I mean, I have an episode. Although sometimes it happends when I don’t see red. And sometimes I see red and it dosen’t happen. I am the most popular girl in the hospital. I get lots of visitors! I was a cheerleader. I’d do a cheer for you now, but I don’t have my pompoms. All my teachers love me. The girls on the squad come to visit me every sunday. The principal sent me a get well note and the boys autographed a football. You can ask anyone in school about me, and they’d all say the same thing. Popo Martin is always cheerful. Popo Martin is a natural leader. Popo Martin looks on the bright side. Popo Martin has a smile on her lips and a kind word for a saddend stranger. Which is propobly why everyone was so surprised when it happend. I tried to kill myself! I took thirty-five sleeping pills out of my mothers purse. I didn’t want to smile anymore. My jaw hurts. And whistling gives me a headache. I want, more than anything to wallow in a hopeless depression - but it just goes against my grain. So I tried to kill myself. That’s why I’m here.