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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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. 


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 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 no place else. Past productions have included everything from Henry V to clown shows, Chekhov to History of American Abridged.

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.

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 recreation. Students participate in a wide array of activities. 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.
From day to residential programs, there is an Actors Workshop Program to meet every need!
  • Extended Day: Attend in-person from 9 am to 9 pm and have lunch and dinner included in the campus dining hall
  • Overnight: Live on campus in the university residence halls and have breakfast, lunch, and dinner included in the university dining hall.

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:

James Webb, PhD- Director/Instructor

James Webb is an actor, playwright, director, and educator. He holds a PhD in Educational Theater from New York University. A seasoned actor of over fifty stage productions, James has held roles that vary from Scar in The Lion King to Booker T. in Ragtime. He has been an educator at the university level since 2002, currently teaching at the City University of New York, and he was the managing director of Irene C. Edmonds Youth Theatre from 2001-2019. He has been the recipient of numerous honors and accolades throughout his career, honored for both his acting and playwriting. In addition to his time on stage, he has appeared in a number of films and done commercial and voiceover work. James 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.

Luis Cardenas, MA

Mr. Cardenas, a seasoned educator and theater professional, kickstarted his journey in New York City under the tutelage of renowned masterteacher Tony Greco, whose students include luminaries like David Harbour and Taraji P. Henson. With a rich background in education, including stints at prestigious institutions like Stuyvesant High School and Bronx High School of Science, Cardenas founded the Open Hydrant Theater Company, serving as Co-Artistic Director. Here, he's directed and nurtured countless projects for diverse local youth, staging iconic productions like "In the Heights" and "West Side Story."

Beyond his theatrical endeavors, Cardenas has left an indelible mark on the entertainment industry, coaching and mentoring youth who've graced screens big and small, from Broadway hits like "MJ The Musical" to TV shows such as "Power" and "Law and Order SVU." His directorial and acting prowess have been showcased in off-Broadway productions like "Raft of the Medusa" and "Fools in Love," earning critical acclaim along the way.

As a playwright, Cardenas is a driving force behind Open Hydrant's groundbreaking work, with his plays like "Last Exit in New York" and "Visa Decline" receiving national acclaim. He's also a proud member of The Puerto Rican Playwrights Unit and actively contributes to the development of young talent as the Playwright Workshop Leader at Bronx Loaf. His contributions extend beyond the stage, with his screenplay "Ain't Gonna Be Ez" currently in production, promising to captivate audiences with its poignant narrative.

Frederick Koehler, MA - Instructor

Frederick Koehler is a versatile actor known for his compelling performances in film, television, and stage. With a career spanning various genres, he has showcased his talent in films such as "Death Race" (2008) and "Oz the Great and Powerful" (2013). Koehler's appearances in popular TV series like "Criminal Minds" and "Lost" have further established his versatility as an actor. On stage, he has impressed audiences with roles in plays including "Balm in Gilead" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Overall, Koehler's dedication and range have made him a respected presence in the entertainment industry. He first got his passion for acting doing theatre as a child, and is excited to pass that tradition on at Education Unlimited.

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.