BUSTI students have the option to choose between tracks  in either Performance or Design, though it is essential to know that students in both tracks work together as an ensemble for the majority of their classes. All students will stretch their comfort zones and work as true collaborative theatre artists: as actors, designers, directors, playwrights… regardless of which track they choose. Designers will perform, performers will design, and all artists will transform their ideas as to the nature of theatre.

What follows is a detailed breakdown of the curriculum:

Morning Technique

In the morning, all students rotate through several Technique Classes designed to provide core skills for theatre artists in the areas of performance and design. All students will take the following five classes:

  • Voice & Speech: The focus of this course is on freeing the natural instrument of each artist through an intensive vocal and physical approach.
  • Movement: This course emphasizes connecting to imagery and impulses, risk-taking, centering, alignment, stretching, and strengthening exercises, and taking care of one’s body.
  • Improvisation: This course approaches the essential skill of improvisation through the lens of a theatre artist, building spontaneity, character development, and storytelling. 
  • Design & Storytelling: A multi-disciplinary course focused on exploring design and space. This class explores the principles of stage design through studio exercises involving varied media.
  • Dramatic Literature: This course focuses on story structure, script and character analysis in preparation for rehearsals, dramaturgy, theatre history, and aesthetics.
Afternoon Skills Classes

Three afternoons per week, students train specifically in their chosen track in either Acting or Design class.

Performance track students take Acting classes, where they learn to warm up, follow their impulses, pursue objectives, develop a character, and mine the possibilities of a script through scene study. Through the dramatic lens of chosen texts, students will develop the performance skills necessary to prepare for scene work and embody a character.

In Design class, Design track students study script analysis, graphic communication skills, collaboration, character development, and storytelling through scenery, lighting, costumes, sound, and stage management. There will be additional opportunities for specific design and shop work geared toward the mounting of the Institute’s final performances.

Toward the end of the BUSTI program, each student has a one-on-one conference with their Acting or Design teacher to receive feedback on their growth over the course of the five weeks and to engage in a dialogue about future pursuits.

Theatre Ensembles

Monday through Thursday evening and on Saturday afternoons, all students take Collaborative Theatre Ensemble class, the focus of which is to devise and rehearse an original performance piece inspired by an Artistic Muse. These projects are process-oriented ensemble pieces, geared toward empowering individual students to develop a collective artistic voice, in which all students will be asked to write, direct, design, and perform. At program’s end, all students perform these projects in one of the School of Theatre’s many performance venues.

On Friday evenings, students participate in Theatre Laboratories, smaller and more focused classes that are designed to provide a space for experimentation in theatre making. Drawing on experiences from their own lives, thoughts, and dreams, students experiment with different ways of telling a story through the theatrical medium.

Master Class Series

Two afternoons per week, students dive into specialized training in a series of Master Classes exploring various elements of theatrical artistry. All students will take all master classes over the course of the summer. Past master classes have included Audition Technique, Lighting Design, Costume Design, Suzuki, Directing, Viewpoints, Clowning, Alexander Technique, Playwriting, Solo Performance, Shakespeare, Text Analysis, and Theatre for Social Change.

Core Curriculum Events

On select weeknights and weekends, special events round out the curriculum, providing a wide range of theatrical and artistic experiences that complement the learning in the classroom. These events may be theatre, music, or dance performances; visits to a local museum; and other cultural or artistic experiences.

A Typical Theatre Institute Day

9–10:30 a.m. Morning Technique Class 1
10:45 a.m.–12:15 p.m. Morning Technique Class 2
12:15–1:30 p.m. Lunch
1:45–5 p.m. Acting or Design Class
5–7 p.m. Dinner
7–10 p.m. Collaborative Theatre Ensemble
11 p.m. Curfew
Undergraduate Audition or Portfolio Review

Toward the end of the summer, students entering the senior year of high school will have the opportunity to interview for the professional training program at the School of Theatre at the Boston University College of Fine Arts. Students demonstrating exceptional promise and commitment may wish to apply for admission to the School under the Boston University Early Decision program.

Students who opt not to interview during the summer, or students who are entering their sophomore or junior year of high school, are invited to participate in a mock college audition or portfolio review. Students receive feedback as to how to improve their audition/portfolio for the future.