Theatre Summer Programs for High School Students

Introductory Information about Summer Theatre Programs

Theatre summer program for high school studentsTheatre summer programs and camps provide high school students with the opportunity to learn about a variety of aspects involved with performance and production. Some theatre programs are designed for students who already have experience being involved with theatre while others are designed for students with any level of experience.
Theatre summer opportunities can emphasize different areas within the field such as acting, musical theater, set design, and production. While some programs emphasize a particular area, others enable high school students to explore a variety of facets involved with theater. 
This page of the summer program directory begins with background information about summer theatre programs and this is followed by examples of specific theatre programs for high school students.

There is also information on other pages of this directory that may be useful. These pages include:

    • Exciting summer programs for students with an interest in music.
    • Ideas and information to consider when thinking about participating in a summer program.
    • Interesting summer programs that focus on writing, including creative writing.
    • Summer programs designed to build and enhance leadership skills.
    • Pre-college programs for students interested in the visual arts.


The Potential Benefits of Summer Theatre Programs

Students participating in a summer theatre program
Theatre programs for high school students can provide a chance to engage in an area of interest, expand upon school drama experiences, meet other students with a similar interest, and learn about theatre in a college, community, and/or professional setting.
Theatre programs tend to emphasize experiential and hands-on learning. This gives students a chance to exhibit their creativity, work collaboratively with peers, learn new skills, develop a comfort level with performing, and engage in rehearsals and shows.
Theatre summer pre-college programs for high school students - outdoor peformanceTheatre summer programs can be beneficial for students with an interest and background in drama. However, these programs can also be helpful for students who are interested in enhancing skills in public speaking, presentation, collaboration, and improvisation.
In addition, some theatre program opportunities have a stage design and production component or pathway. This enables students who are interested in these aspects of theatre to learn and enhance their skills.


Pre-College Theatre Summer Programs

A number of theatre programs take place on college campuses around the country. These pre-college summer theatre programs for high school students can provide the chance to learn about theater in a college setting, gain insight about opportunities to become involved with theater after high school and get a sense of the college experience.

Students dancing in a simmer threatre programPre-college theatre programs are often run by the Theatre Department at a college. As a result, some of the programs enable students to interact and work with faculty members and/or current undergraduates from the department.
Some pre-college theatre programs are residential, which enables students to gain experience with staying on a college campus and utilizing college resources. Other programs are commuter-based and provide students with the chance to engage in theatre-based educational activities during the day and then return home in the evening.

Theatre Summer Program Opportunities

Theatre sign for a summer theatre programThere are some summer theatre programs that are run by organizations, such as theater companies. These programs often allow students to learn from professionals in the field and develop an understanding of the way in which a theater company functions.
Overall, theatre summer programs enable students to enhance their skills, work cooperatively with peers, learn new techniques, and pursue an area of interest. These programs can also cultivate an interest in becoming involved with theatre at a college and/or in the community.

Featured Summer Theatre Programs

Boston University Summer Theatre Institute – Boston, Massachusetts

The Boston University Summer Theatre Institute provides the opportunity high school students, with a strong interest in theatre, to develop their skills, enhance their knowledge, and get a feel for learning in a college setting. The program is structured to help students understand the academic standards as well as the types of experiences that undergraduates have while pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the university.

This summer program promotes an enthusiasm for theatre while helping students to build upon their skills in areas such design, improv, acting, and more. Participating students can opt to focus on performance or design (production). Although the focus area may be different, one of the unique features of this program is that students collaborate together in an ensemble setting to generate and perform a theatre piece.

The summer theatre institute enables high school students to fully immerse themselves in the theatre arts at a university. This pre-college program allows students to explore their own creativity, work cooperatively with other participants, learn from faculty members, and become more familiar with the college atmosphere.

In addition, through this program, students have the opportunity to stay in a dormitory, eat in university-run dining halls, and gain experience living and learning on a college campus.

There is an application process for students who are interested in attending the program.

Participants: Rising 10th, 11th, and 12th grade high school students.

Learn more: Boston University Summer Theatre Institute

Brown University summer theatre program for high school students

Brown University Summer Acting and Theatre Program – Providence, Rhode Island

Brown offers a wide variety of summer pre-college program opportunities for high school students. In the Summer@Brown program, one of the course options focuses on theatre with a special emphasis on acting. This program enables students to analyze scenes, enhance their performing skills, and collaborate with peers with an interest in the theatre arts. Through a variety of acting exercises, participants apply new techniques, take on different roles, and gain insight into the auditioning process.

During the three-week immersive summer course, high school students take part in a variety of meaningful theatre exercises. As the program progresses, students develop an understanding of effective methods that can be utilized to develop their skills as a performer and strengthen their stage presence. Participants thoroughly examine scenes from plays and discuss the personas of different characters. Students also work with each other to act out scenes and receive feedback from an instructor as well as peers.

In addition to studying scenes from significant writers, students are encouraged to utilize their creativity and imagination in small groups to develop scenes. This enables students to be innovative and resourceful as they depict interesting and original characters.

Through the program, students have the opportunity to develop their speaking, communication, and acting skills. Students also utilize critical thinking to analyze scenes and characters while employing effective performance techniques.

As a participant in the Summer@Brown pre-college experience, high school students have the chance to gain experience on a college campus and become more familiar with the opportunities that are offered in a university setting. Participants have the option of residing on the university’s campus to get a feel for what it is like to live and learn in a college environment. There is also a commuter option, which reduces the program fee while still enabling students to take part in the educational activities. There is an application for the program and there is an opportunity to apply for a scholarship and financial aid.

Participants: High school students who have finished their freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior year.

Learn more: Brown Summer Theatre Acting Program

Carnegie Mellon University summer theatre program for high school students

Carnegie Mellon University Summer Drama Program – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The CMU summer theatre program is run by the University’s School of Drama, which is known for the education that it provides for performing arts students. This program is held over a six week period during the summer and it takes place on the university’s campus.

The structure of this summer theatre program enables students to specialize in either musical theatre, production and design, or acting. Students have a chance to participate in a wide range of learning activities, such as discussions, simulations, workshops, improvisations and much more.

The program also provides students with the opportunity to enhance their performance or production skills, learn from professors and other experts in the field, work cooperatively with peers, and embrace the performing arts. In addition, participants can learn more about potential college majors and career options in the performing arts.

The summer theatre program is a part of the pre-college opportunities that are held at the university each summer. These programs serve to help students get a sense of college life and prepare to make the transition from high school to college. Through the summer theatre program, students, who are focusing on performance, gain insight in preparing for college auditions.  Those students, who are focusing on the production side, develop skills that can be used for developing portfolio pieces.

The program has a residential and a commuter option. (As a note, students need to meet an age requirement in order to stay on the campus  during the program). The theatre summer program has an application process for students.

Participants: Rising high school 11th and 12th grade students.

Learn more: CMU Summer Drama Program

University of Cincinnati summer theatre program for high school students

University of Cincinnati Summer Theatre Acting Program – Cincinnati, Ohio

The University of Cincinnati offers a summer acting workshop for high school students with an interest in enhancing their theatre performance skills. The program is offered through the College’s Conservatory of Music, which coordinates and runs performing arts summer experiences for high school students. Through the program, students have the opportunity to work on a variety of acting skills, prepare for auditions, gain insight into acting techniques, develop their performance presence, and receive feedback from experienced instructors.

There are multiple topics that are covered during the program. These include, but are not limited to, presence on the stage, the Meisner technique, performance strategies, the auditioning process, improvisation, and more. Students also have a chance to learn about what it is like to study acting in a higher education setting and to discuss potential career option in the theatre profession.

During the program, students work cooperatively with other aspiring actors, get feedback in group settings, and receive individualized attention. The program is designed to provide experiential learning opportunities, which allows students to quickly apply what they have learned in acting exercises.

The program also provides the chance for students (meeting a specific age requirement) to stay on the campus. This can give students a preview of life on a university campus. There is an application process for this program, which includes an audition. The audition can be done in-person or via the web.

Participants: High school students.

Learn more: UC Summer Acting Program

Penn State

Penn State University Musical Theater Summer Program – University Park, Pennsylvania

Penn State offers a summer program in musical theatre for upper-grade high school students. Participants have the opportunity to learn in a college setting, build their acting and musical skills, and receive instruction from professors as well as professionals in the field of theatre.

The musical theatre experience enables students to develop important performance techniques and to practice their skills through a variety of experiential learning exercises. Through the program, participants are able to enhance their skills in areas such as acting, dance, singing, stage presence, and more. Students work on integrating their talents in these areas in order to improve their performance in musical theatre shows.

During the two-week program, participants have a chance to work in group settings, where they collaborate with peers, learn new theatre techniques, apply their skills through performing scenes, and receive valuable feedback. The program also provides the chance for students to gain individual instruction and work on skills that are significant for them.

As a part of the summer experience at Penn State, students have the opportunity to learn about college majors and career options in musical theatre. Participants also gain useful information for auditioning in educational settings as well as professional environments. In addition, high school students can preview college life by staying on the campus during the program.

There is an application process for the summer theatre program. This includes video clips that can be uploaded and submitted through the application portal.

Participants: High school students who will be going into their junior or senior year.

Learn more: Penn State Summer Musical Theatre Program

Wisconsin Whitewater University summer threatre program for high school students

University of Wisconsin, Whitewater Summer Theatre Program for High School Students – Whitewater, Wisconsin

This summer theatre camp provides high school students with the opportunity to enhance their theatre skills, prepare for college, and experience life on a university campus. The week-long program enables students to learn about significant facets within theatre and apply their knowledge and skills through activities that take place throughout the program.

The summer camp includes two areas of specialization: acting and design/technical. The acting section of the program enables students to learn new techniques and practice applying them in ongoing theatre exercises. Students in the acting track address areas such as stage presence, auditioning, voice projection, improvisation, and more.

The design and technical section provide students with the chance to work on scene sets, utilize resources at the university, and gain insight into working on theatre productions. Students in this track explore topics such as lighting, set design, costumes, managing a stage,  and more.

Both tracks in the program (acting and technical) give students a chance to exhibit their learning towards the end of the summer camp. The acting students can implement their learning through a culminating performance and the technical students can present scenes that were worked on during the summer experience.

The summer camp provides students with the opportunity to stay on the campus in a university dormitory. This can be useful for high school students, as it allows them to become more familiar with being on a college campus. Overall, the summer program can help students learn about an area of interest and get a feel for what it is like to be a college theatre major.

Participants: High school students who are going into grades nine through twelve.

Learn more: UW Whitewater Summer Theatre Program

Additional Summer Theatre Programs for High School Students

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