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California Actors Workshop

California High School Actors Workshop focuses on teaching professional acting techniques that translate onto both stage and screen. Over the course of 14 days, students participate in a morning core curriculum, choose from a variety of specialized afternoon electives, and rehearse a final performance showcasing their talent and hard work. 

Students will participate in various areas of drama, including the following:

  • Final Production
  • Electives such as, but not limited to, Audition Techniques, Solo Performances, Musical Theatre, Improvisation, and Stage Combat
  • Excursions to experience world-class theatre
  • "Drama-Free" Recreation

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Admission Requirements: Eligible students must be entering 9th-12th grade in order to attend the High School session of the California Actors Workshop. Students must demonstrate a passion for acting and theatre by having taken drama classes or planning to during high school.

Core Curriculum

The core curriculum for the Actors Workshop consists of a Scene Study class and a Voice/Body Lab. Student actors begin each day with a physical and vocal warm-up, after which they participate in games and exercises to develop their voice, body, and impulse “instruments.” The emphasis is on becoming stronger, nimbler, and more expressive storytellers, all in an environment of exploration and play. Then, in Scene Study, students work in pairs to analyze, rehearse, and perform an assigned scene from a contemporary play or movie. Informed by Stanislavsky, Hagen, Shurtleff, and Donnellan, the course adapts to individual students' needs to either introduce or deepen understandings of the basic building blocks of realistic acting - relationship, objective, obstacles, and actions. 

Afternoon Electives

Elective offerings vary each year and depend on the interests of the students and the specialty of the acting faculty. Possible offerings include the below.

Audition Technique: Whether you’re up for the high school musical, a professional play, or a yogurt commercial, this elective gives you the tools to walk into any audition with confidence and cool. Topics covered include monologues, cold reads, slates, headshots and resumes, audition attire and etiquette, how to choose material, and tips for dealing with nerves.
Solo Performance: Learn to research, write, direct, and perform a one-person show. Students are guided through character creation, writing exercises, and the critique and development process.
Shadow Puppetry: Discover the rich history of “paper theatre” and work together to create your own shadow puppet shows. This elective is a great opportunity to try on the director’s or playwright’s hat.
Musical Theatre: Some emotions and ideas can only be expressed in song. If you have dreams of Broadway, this elective can help you sing, dance, and learn the skills you need to explore the exciting world of musical theatre.
Introduction to Design: If you’ve ever wondered about foley sound effects or wanted to try your hand at costume design, this is the class for you. Students work together to design an imaginary play (with an equally imaginary budget!).
Improvisation: Act without a script! Games and exercises teach essential skills like saying “yes and,” heightening, sharing and taking focus, and building a shared environment.
Stage Combat: How do we create violence onstage so that it looks real but no one gets hurt? Students work with partners to learn and perform short unarmed combinations of punches, slaps, kicks, holds, throws, and falls.
Shakespeare: Learn to love the Bard and enjoy the richness and complexity of his language as you prepare an audition-ready monologue.

Final Production

All actors in the Workshop participate in the final production. Each year a play is chosen (or devised by the students themselves) and cast with that year’s specific ensemble in mind. The extremely condensed rehearsal process allows all of us the freedom to trust our first choices and lean on the support of our fellow artists as we work fast and hard to create a unique piece of theatre that truly could exist nowhere and no place else. Past productions have included everything from Henry V to clown shows, Chekhov to student-written vignettes of high school life.

Experience World-Class Theatre

Unlike other art camps that are situated in isolated locations, the California Actors Workshop believes that one of the most important components of training for young actors is to see as much professional theatre as possible. For this reason, Workshop participants visit Bay Area theatres to observe both big-budget hits and small, innovative productions. Whenever possible, students participate in a post-performance Q & A with actors and directors, during which they can talk shop, learn about the professional rehearsal process, and gain insight into the life of a theatre artist. In the classroom, instructors specifically draw on the material viewed at visited theatres. For the California Actors Workshop, the world is not only a stage but also a classroom. “Drama-Free” Recreation Even though the students and faculty live and breathe passion for the theatre, the Actors Workshop students balance their class and rehearsal load with daily “drama-free” recreation. Students participate in a wide array of games, sports, and arts and crafts. In the evening, they come together for movie nights and special events that recall a traditional camp environment but with the added bonus of accessing the opportunities available on a college campus.

Camps for rising 9th-12th graders have two options:

  • Extended Day: Extended Day Campers attend camp from 9am to 9pm seven days a week (except check-in and check-out days, which are half days), with lunch and dinner provided in the dining hall each day.
  • Overnight: Overnight campers check-in after lunch on the first day of camp and check out before lunch on the last day of camp. All meals and shared dorm accommodations are provided.
Program Grades Location Start Date End Date Price Options Register

Sample Schedule High School

8:00 am Breakfast in the dining hall (overnight campers)
9-9:15 am Extended day camper check-in
9:15 am Warm-up
9:30 am Movement class
10:00 am Acting workshop
12:30 pm Lunch in the dining hall (included for all campers)
1:30 pm Elective #1
3:30 pm Elective #2
5:30 pm Dinner in the dining hall (included for all campers)
6:30 pm Group Excursion to local theater
8:00 pm Evening recreation activities
9:00 pm Extended day camper check-out
10:00 pm Floor check
10:30 pm Room check

Education Unlimited believes in small-group, immersive learning with subject matter experts and experienced teachers. We strive to provide industry-leading instruction to all of our students and hold all staff to the highest possible standards. Staff assignments vary by program and location. Some of our recent staff members for this program include:

Gerry Weiner, MA - Instructor

Gerry Wiener is a drama teacher with a Masters in English Education from New York University. He has taught beginning and advanced levels of drama as well as musical theatre, choir, and English with an emphasis on arts integration for over 25 years in Martinez, CA. He was both a participant and later a presenter with the California Arts Project, sharing drama techniques with fellow educators in the Bay Area. Gerry has worked with junior high students in summer musical theatre workshops at The Head Royce School in Oakland, and has directed and produced over 50 plays and musicals in Martinez, Berkeley, and Dansvile, NY. He has performed in community theater productions, and has sung and recorded with choirs including the UC Berkeley Chamber Choir and Vox Populi,  In Gerry’s classes, students work collaboratively in a positive and creative setting to find their voices and explore myriad dramatic and musical techniques, building confidence that will serve them in all aspects of life.

Casey Ann Hayward, MA - Instructor

Casey Ann Hayward is a teacher with a Master of Arts in Educational Theatre from New York University.  As a seasoned performer and teaching artist, Casey Ann has a natural ability to empower students to find their own voice and confidence in front of a crowd, whether it be on stage as a performer or public speaker.  Her background in educating youth is extensive; she has taught at the National Youth Drama School, Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, and taught at The West Tisbury School in Massachusetts.

Casey Ann is also an experienced performer, director, and playwright.  In June 2017 her original play about the history and politics of genetics, “Gene Play”, co-written with Jonah Lipsky, was debuted at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse.  She has been involved in the production of numerous performances from the TONY awards to the Thanksgiving Day Parade. In addition to her love of the performing arts, Casey Ann has also been a certified Pilates instructor since 2011.

James Webb, PhD - Camp Director

Dr. James Webb is a seasoned instructor and lecturer with a PhD in Educational Theater from New York University. He has taught at numerous colleges and universities in the greater New York City area, with courses ranging from Fundamentals of Acting to Interpersonal and Vocal Communications.  Prior to spending his summer months with Education Unlimited, Dr. Webb spent 14 years as the managing director of the Irene C. Edmonds Youth Theatre Program in Tallahassee, Florida.

Dr. Webb is a seasoned actor of over fifty stage productions; he has held roles that vary from Scar in The Lion King to Booker T. in Ragtime. Dr. Webb has been the recipient of numerous honors and accolades throughout his career, honored for both his original playwrights and acting. In addition to his time on stage, he has appeared in numerous films and done commercial and voiceover work.  Dr. Webb also holds a Master of Fine Arts in Acting from The University of Florida and a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater from Florida A&M University.