Boston Conservatory at Berklee’s B.F.A. in Contemporary Theater is unlike any other in the country. Launched in 2015 as the first program of its kind in a conservatory setting, it is designed to develop bold and inventive theater makers who will impact today’s theater scene and shape the future of the art form.
Our innovative program is devoted to ensemble-based training for the 21st-century theater artist, who is both a powerful performer and a multidimensional theater creator. The curriculum combines the rigorous foundational acting training of Boston Conservatory’s signature theater programs with a dynamic range of contemporary practices, such as devised theater, experimental performance labs, eco-performance, immersive theater, and creative entrepreneurship. This multifaceted approach prepares students to pursue artistically diverse careers as actors, directors, playwrights, dramaturgs, entrepreneurs, and multidisciplinary theater makers of vision and leadership.
Boston Conservatory contemporary theater students are ambitious, curious, collaborative, artistically courageous, socially conscious, and fiercely original, with many interests. They recognize that they have a calling and that the theater is their home. They are driven by the desire to express their personal truths and to redefine the future of the theater. Boston Conservatory contemporary theater students value the process of collaboration and ensemble creation, imagining new theatrical paradigms for new generations. Students join this program to find their voice, their gesture, their cause, and their own artistic method.
The Conservatory’s pioneering contemporary theater curriculum is composed of four fundamental pursuits—training, performing, creating, and producing—designed to provide a multidimensional technique with which students can explore their individual voices and build their theater-making skills:
Training provides rigorous instruction in acting, movement, voice, and speech. Students work together as an ensemble and are challenged to develop their individual artistic points of view while creating as a group. This gives students an opportunity to explore collaborative theater making and master both traditional and emerging theater techniques.
Performing ensures that students perform in a variety of formats. At the heart of this component is the Ensemble Performance Lab (EPL), an ensemble of student actors who collaborate with a faculty member or guest artist to create a reimagined classic or devise an entirely original work. The EPL provides an opportunity to experiment with alternative styles, innovative methodologies, and non-traditional performance spaces. In addition to EPLs, contemporary theater students may choose to audition for the Theater Division’s mainstage plays and musicals, division-sponsored student-directed work, student club productions, and independent student-initiated projects. View an overview of performance opportunities for contemporary theater students.
Creating is focused on teaching students the compositional elements of theatrical storytelling: idea conceptualization, narrative development, staging, designing, and directing. Contemporary theater students don’t just follow a script—they develop their own narratives through hands-on studies in directing, playwriting, dramaturgy, devising, visual thinking and design, site-specific performance, choreography, and interdisciplinary collaborations.
Producing gives students the knowledge and tools needed to present theater in innovative ways, and in both traditional and non-traditional theater spaces. They explore the power and impact of creative entrepreneurship, community engagement, arts management, and audience development. These studies reach a practical culmination when students create an original work to take on tour, engage in professional internships, and premiere a self-directed senior capstone project.
Each semester, Boston Conservatory welcomes notable guest artists to campus to teach students and collaborate on new work. Recent guest artists have included:
- Double Edge Theatre: an artist-run, female-led ensemble and laboratory for the actors’ creative process
- Tina Packer: founding artistic director of Shakespeare & Company, one of the largest and most critically acclaimed theater festivals in the world
- Jacqui Parker: playwright, actress, and founder of Boston’s African American Theatre Festival
- Mauricio Salgado: actor, director, and cofounder of Artists Striving to End Poverty
- Paris Crayton III: actor, director and author of more than 40 plays produced nationwide
In 2019, Boston Conservatory graduated its first class of contemporary theater innovators. Graduates of our contemporary theater program are destined to revolutionize the theater of tomorrow.
- They are confident, courageous, and versatile artists.
- They are ambassadors for creative expression, social justice, and artistic citizenship.
- They tell stories with lasting resonance and meaningful consequence.
- They are nimble and flexible collaborators with distinct points of view.
- They are risk takers and opportunity makers.
- They are articulate, intelligent advocates for their own work and the work of others.
- They possess powerful tools to forge meaningful careers and play leadership roles in the evolution of contemporary theater.
They join a strong network of Boston Conservatory alumni working in contemporary theater nationwide, including:
- Arena Stage
- Arizona Theatre Company
- Atlantic Theatre Company
- Barrington Stage Company
- Dallas Theater Center
- Denver Center Theatre Company
- Geva Theatre Center
- Guthrie Theater
- Hartford Stage
- Huntington Theatre Company
- La Jolla Playhouse
- Lincoln Center
- Long Wharf Theatre
- Lyric Stage Company
- Manhattan Repertory Theatre
- New York Stage and Film
- The Old Globe
- The Public Theatre
- Roundabout Theatre Company
- Signature Theatre
- Studio Theatre
- SpeakEasy Stage Company
- Vineyard Theatre
- Walnut Street Theatre