Greetings! I'm Chris Andersson. 

I am the former Director of Admissions for the Drama department at NYU Tisch School of the Arts (12 years!) and am now an independent educational consultant who advises students who want to pursue an education in theater, film, or dramatic writing. I work primarily with high school students who have their eyes on university-level or summer high school programs in the U.S., the U.K. and Canada. To serve them in the best way possible, I founded Nothing But Drama in 2014.

In my role as designer, producer and host of the audition process for the largest undergraduate theater department in the world, I welcomed 25,000 young theater artists to their artistic reviews (aka auditions) in my time at NYU and auditioned thousands of applicants myself.

Just the idea of a college artistic review can be overwhelming, scary, and stressful. It’s a big unknown after all — for every high school senior in the arts. I'm here today to answer any questions you might have about the process.

And if you are—or you have—a theater, film or dramatic writing student dreaming about studying their art at university, drop me a line!

Take care! And thanks for being here!

Proof: https://imgur.com/a/3MPUJ4MIG: nothingbutdrama.llcFB: https://www.facebook.com/nothingbutdramallcIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/nothing-but-dramaWebsite: https://www.nothingbutdrama.com

Comments: 130 • Responses: 34  • Date: 

Treezie0318 karma

My 12 year old daughter does nothing but talk about NYU Tisch. I don’t know how she learned of this program as I knew very little beyond the name. We live in Saskatchewan which has limited opportunities in drama for kids. And of course with COVID all these are on hold. Right now she is spending hours everyday learning to play the ukulele from YouTube videos.

What advice can you give, in this current environment, to kids who love anything performance wise? I don’t know how to find quality online drama opportunities for her.

NothingButDramaLLC19 karma

Glad to hear your daughter is keeping up her creativity during this crazy time!

I think she's onto something. While your daughter might be just under the age for this, many summer high school programs have been operating remotely over the summer. While it may be a little late for this summer, there are training conservatories in NYC that have teen and youth conservatories that operate during the school year. If any of these programs, decide to bring that programming online, she may have the opportunity to learn with her field of theatre. Studios like Stella Adler Studio of Acting, Atlantic Acting School, The Barrow Group are all in NYC and have youth programs.

Also, might she create her own online performance opportunities with her friends? Do play readings in a Zoom chat, for example, or do some wonderful outdoor backyard performances!

Treezie033 karma

These are great ideas. Thanks for the feedback!

NothingButDramaLLC3 karma

My pleasure!

coltonious11 karma

Coming from an ex-theatre minor at a college; how cliquey is your drama department? The lack of openness to new people in the department at my school is why i dropped the minor. I guess I'm just wondering if that's something that comes with the trade, or if my school is different

NothingButDramaLLC18 karma

Ah, I'm sorry to hear that. No one should feel excluded from the arts! I hope that challenge caused you to create wonderful art.

NYU is a very supportive environment. Not competitive. It is a large department with several training studios. Students spend the first two years of primary training in one studio, so it becomes a little home within the greater department. They get to know their teachers, staff and fellow students quite well during that time. Also, beginning in second year, they will have the opportunity to do shows with students at other studios, which creates an atmosphere of cross-learning and increased curiosity. It is this process of creating performance together that I believe mitigates the potential of inter-studio rivalry or cliques. Students from all studios take theater studies together. And they take general educations classes with students from around the university.

Another thing to consider is that NYU Tisch Drama is a BFA program, so all students had to do an artistic review to enter. So, there is not an opportunity for non-Drama students to participate in productions or classes. Tisch and NYU have drama clubs for non-Tisch Drama students to engage with their love of theater.

Hewasjoking9 karma

Do you talk with prospective drama students about the pitfalls of a drama degree? What are the pitfalls in your eyes?What is the percentage of graduates who do not work in the field after graduation?

NothingButDramaLLC12 karma

I think an education in theater is really an education for life. Cheezy as it sounds. Many grads do find work and places within the field of theater: as actors, directors, designers, stage managers, casting directors, artistic directors, talent agents, educators, the list goes on. But many find their way into other fields, like teachers, trial lawyers, customer service, public speaking, all that would benefit from the skills they developed in their theater degree. Students learn valuable skills like teamwork, collaboration and trust. They become great interviewees because they are used to being in the spotlight and learn to advocate for themselves and have improvisations skills that give them an agility with which to navigate job search and other similar situations.

MrFalcon6 karma

What's your favorite REM song?

NothingButDramaLLC6 karma

Stand.

thinqueprep5 karma

What’s your favorite musical and play?

NothingButDramaLLC8 karma

Ooh, another tough question. I think my favorite musical is probably AIN'T MISBEHAVIN', which is basically a jukebox musical about the music of Fats Waller. So, even though it doesn't have a book, the performances of the cast are incredible.

Plays are harder.

westgate141pdx5 karma

Hi, I know you won’t be able to answer this, but Why didn’t I get in to the Musical Theater program back in 1998? Do they keep rejection notes on file?

It’s actually one of the best things that ever (didn’t) happened to me, I’m quite happy not having made a career in Music.

Hope you are well!

NothingButDramaLLC11 karma

Ha! Indeed I can't answer why. But remember, applying to Tisch Drama is a two-part process that weights the NYU application and the artistic review equally. As there is a "no feedback" rule, students have no way of knowing if it was particularly one or the other that may have set them back. However, having said THAT, it's not necessarily that clear cut. It really is a holistic process wherein the admissions office looks at the entire application package that is presented to them, including the artistic review.

The NYU admissions office purges application files annually, once they're through with the process, as does the Drama department.

And you're saying a wonderful thing for prospective students out there! One rejection sent you in a different direction which turned out to be even better than you would have known!

Thanks for your questions and advice! Take care!

MCMXCVI-3 karma

Why is there a no feedback rule

NothingButDramaLLC6 karma

Good question. Partly because of volume, I'm sure. NYU gets something like 40,000 applications a year. They don't have the time to give people specific feedback on their applications.

The Drama department was required to adhere to that policy so we were unable to provide feedback on artistic reviews. It was tough because I knew how helpful it would be to an Early Decision candidate who was not accepted, for example, to get some constructive feedback in the face of the next round of Regular Decision reviews.

33plus34 karma

Every teacher tells me that it’s not always the technique and skill that determines admission into a program but also your character. How much of this is true, is it 50/50, or is it just something my teachers have been telling me so I can let loose a little bit during practice?

NothingButDramaLLC6 karma

The artistic review is a chance for us to learn where you are in your own artistic development. If you've got some technique and skill, that's terrific, and we'll see that. But we're also there to teach you so we want to see if you're beginning to understand this craft and if you demonstrate talent and passion for the art form. We also want see if you are a student we would like to have in class! So, this would be where your character and personality come in. Many schools will ask you a question or two or even have an extended chat with you to get to know you a little better.

ShiningAway4 karma

Good day! I'm a high school student from outside of the US and I'm seeking admission to college in Fall 2021. I absolutely love musical theatre, and I'm wondering what prospects international students usually face after graduation. Are they allowed audition in the thriving theatre industry in New York during and after their time in college? How often do they find some degree of employment within the industry, even some small successes? How much debt is there to pay off for a self-funded international student? Thank you so much for taking the time to do this AMA!

NothingButDramaLLC5 karma

Hi there! Glad you wrote in! It's awesome that you are embarking on an exciting adventure for your next life phase.

Look into student visas and the latest up-to-date regulations about remaining in the US after graduation. Things are a little challenging right now regarding international visas during this administration. If things change in the next election, we would hope any restrictions might be eased. (Also look into schools in the UK. They recently extended the time international students could stay in the country after graduation.)

Landing a gig is tough for any young artist, domestic or international. Keep auditioning!

Going to university in the US is expensive. Check with each school you are interested in applying to to see if they provide financial aid to international students. Some do, some don't.

All the best!

thinqueprep3 karma

This one is from my friend Hiro:

"NYU uses potential as part of its adjudication process. How the heck do you judge potential?"

NothingButDramaLLC10 karma

Toughie! We look to see what the student is making sense of already, what do they have a grasp on so far? What do they need to work on? We're teachers, of course, so we need to assess what they will need and will they benefit from training.

We also look for passion and talent. Do they love this? Is there a spark there? A student with no theater experience could come in and demonstrate raw talent that we know will respond to training.

bssjake03 karma

What's your favorite audition song/monologue?

NothingButDramaLLC4 karma

Simple but challenging question! I feel the best song or monologue is one that the student relates to, connects to and is passionate about sharing.

123456789hfgveidghdf11 karma

Come on, that’s a cop out! Maybe I can rephrase the question: what song/monologue do/did you enjoy performing yourself for auditions?

NothingButDramaLLC8 karma

Haha! It's the worst but most true answer, I know. Because, of course, different material works for different people. :)

For a while I did a monologue from Christopher Durang's play SISTER MARY IGNATIUS EXPLAINS IT ALL FOR YOU, until I outgrew the Catholic high school boy character. :)

Fredd5003 karma

[deleted]

NothingButDramaLLC8 karma

Hmm. Blizzards. Chicago blizzards.

One year, maybe 2010, when Chicago was under a heaping blanket of snow and people abandoned their cars on Lakeshore Drive, we had to move all the auditions from first three days of our visit to the last three days, doubling up on everything. It was chaos. The days were long, the kids were whisked in and out of rooms, acting, singing and dancing. It was madness. But it worked! And it inspired me to change how we ran our audition process!

Oh, and the time a young woman puked during her audition.

Fredd5002 karma

[deleted]

NothingButDramaLLC3 karma

Haha, of course!

BrokeHardHead2 karma

[deleted]

NothingButDramaLLC2 karma

I would suggest that you think about the kind of work students do in an undergraduate theater program. There is a lot of physical contact among students and a lot of sharing of personal information, thoughts and emotions. Your fellow students would be 18 years old. You would be at a different level of maturity and life experience than they are and would have to be willing to dive into training along with students who are experiencing college for the first time.

It's so different from going to school in a strictly academic major, where the age difference has little or no bearing on the learning experience.

If you want professional actor training, there are plenty of great studios in NYC, like Terry Knickerbocker Studio, Stella Adler Studio of Acting, Atlantic Acting School, The Barrow Group, where you could be in class with adults who are also pursuing a career in acting.

Just something to consider.

maplefawkes2 karma

Any advice for someone fresh out of undergrad (bfa drama) looking ahead to grad school? I’m currently anticipating that it’ll be a few years before I apply, and I’m wondering how to best use that time so that I eventually do have a competitive application.

NothingButDramaLLC3 karma

Glad you wrote in! Congratulations on getting your BFA in Drama! Welcome to the world of theater!

I think you are wise to get some real-life experience before applying to graduate school. From friends who have gone through the audition process, it seems that MFA acting programs do want to know that you're serious about pursuing this as a profession and not that you are trying to avoid real life by continuing on to grad school directly from undergrad.

In the meantime, get out there and audition. Learn the process; get to know who the casting directors are and for which directors, theater or film companies, project they work for; keep up relationships with industry people you meet along the way. Read plays and screenplays. Read about the field. Stay current so you have a fluency about your art form. Stay vigilant about social, political, economic (and pandemic) effects on the field. And keep up your skill sets and keep practicing what you love about theater!

toast_kun2 karma

What are some things that set auditioners apart, in a good way? And a bad way?

NothingButDramaLLC5 karma

First, I would say the best way applicants can set themselves apart is by being themselves, their true authentic selves. The purpose of the artistic review is for us to get to know them, as artists and people, in the short time we have with them.

That being said, presenting well in demeanor, appearance and behavior works in their favor. A student who doesn't have their monologue memorized or is clearly unprepared for this experience will not look good. We know they're all super nervous and that might result in some poor behavior but preparedness and courtesy go a long way.

duckduckohno2 karma

I originally went to school for theatre. I absolutely loved all aspects of it from being a techie, set design, light design, sound design, to acting. However after my freshman year, it became clear that graduating in 4 years might be a struggle.

Can you elaborate on why academia for the arts would require students to audition for a class? I ended up changing my major to a technology degree because I knew that if I failed to pass an audition for any one of my acting classes, that it would add a year to my studies and therefore a failed audition could cost me ~30k to student loans. My worry is with school's becoming more expensive, tactics like these will push people away from the arts in fear of financial consequences.

NothingButDramaLLC1 karma

Would you mind elaborating a bit?

A theater program at a college or university would be designed to be completed in four years, so I'm unsure why it would be difficult to complete.

And I'm unclear as to your mention of auditioning for a class. At NYU, for example, if there were an upper-level studio that a student auditioned for but was not invited to join, there were always other options within the Drama department to continue their studies.

Thanks for the clarification!

duckduckohno1 karma

University of washington required students in Drama 200+ classes to audition to gain entry into the class. You needed a certain number of credits in these classes to graduate and they were offered only once a year so if you didn't get in, you'd need to take it next year. These classes were often pre-requisites for other advanced classes so if you didn't get in, you'd be delayed.

I was told these classes were highly competitive, and while I was a Grade A student, I couldn't afford the risk. I'm sure the drama dept would have worked with me but I was depending on my advisors to help me out in situations like that.

From your surprise it doesn't seem like this is an issue at your school.

NothingButDramaLLC1 karma

Ah, thanks for the additional info! That makes sense now.

NYU seems to be structured differently than UW was then. I wonder if UW has changed their curriculum!

Pedro_Xyo2 karma

What audition songs/monologues make you roll your eyes when you see/hear them?

NothingButDramaLLC8 karma

This, too, is a toughie. While there are certainly monologues and songs that teachers would love to never hear again, the material is really just a vehicle for assessment. And one of those eye-rollers might actually show an applicant off really well. So, we endure them. :)

Pedro_Xyo2 karma

Fair enough, on the reverse are there any hidden gems you think get overlooked??

NothingButDramaLLC6 karma

I think students would do well to research some very current playwrights to find edgier, less done material.

Or, on the flip side, go back a bit. I often bring my students to writers from a little while ago, like Edward Albee, Christopher Durang, Craig Lucas.

Also, if a student finds monologue books with monologues FROM PLAYS, it might be a more accessible way in to the world of monologues. There are a lot of them out there. Many of these books give advice on choosing, preparing and performing monologues. And if they find a monologue they like, they should read the play it's from.

However, all monologues for college auditions must be from published plays. They should steer clear of monologue books containing monologues that were written expressly for that book because there's no context to help them develop the character and the situation.

billy-werner1 karma

What kind of connections are there? Like would I have a good chance of getting discovered there?

NothingButDramaLLC2 karma

As NYU is in NYC, the industry professionals know the Drama department is graduating 350 new artists every year. They come to see shows, do workshops, teach classes and give talks. There are many opportunities to interact with people in the field, including your faculty members!

IzayaYagami1 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA Mr. Andersson,

are there any books/ videos/ resources one can access from quarantine, that you would recommend to a drama student/ preparing to audition to NYU?

NothingButDramaLLC2 karma

My pleasure! I hope you find it helpful.

Look at Playbill.com, Backstage.com, PerformerStuff.com. Soon (perhaps next year) the Drama Bookshop in New York City will be open again.

Order a monologue book or two so you can read through numerous monologues at once. They must be monologues from PUBLISHED PLAYS. Do not use a book containing monologues written just for that book.

Research many theater programs in the US, UK and Canada to learn more about actor training at university. This will give you perspective on programs and a deeper understanding of what you are about to undertake.

Cjsfedelma1 karma

I work with a non-profit that fosters arts education in difficult places around the world. What advice do you have for students who want to pursue music and theater, but are coming from places with little to no access to teachers or support?

I’ve seen some incredibly talented students that have never had the opportunity for private lessons or even school programs. These kids are passionate, disciplined and often mostly self taught. But we’ve seen those same students not be accepted to programs like NYU.

I understand these decisions are incredibly difficult, I’m just wondering if there is anything we can help them with to increase their chances.

NothingButDramaLLC1 karma

Hi there! I'm so glad you brought this up.

At NYU Tisch Drama, I always said to prospective students and families that we are here to train student artists , so it didn't matter how much or how little experience an applicant had. We would see their level of experience in the artistic review and assess where they were in their own artistic development. One student might be more experienced and come into the audition room with a level comfort and confidence. Another student might come in with little or no experience but with fire and passion and clear raw talent that we would be able to shape and mold and help them become a skilled artist.

I'm sorry to hear some of your more talented students weren't accepted into programs like NYU. Acceptance is based on both the academic application and the artistic review (with weight of each component differing from school to school). So, perhaps, when looking holistically at a student's application, the combined information they receive isn't enough to offer acceptance.

If it's not happening already, working to provide adequate college counseling will support the application side. Deep-dive online research about the different programs will give them more fluency in the world of theater programs and help them understand the rigors and expectations of university-level training. And, especially now, many theater programs/schools/studios that provide conservatory training to youth and teens are navigating the online arena, both in the summer and during the school year. It might be worth reaching out to some of these programs to see how they're providing programming and how they are accommodating international students and also do they have financial aid or scholarships that your students might take advantage of.

And do tell us the name of your non-profit, if you don't mind. It sounds like you do great work!

Thanks for writing in!

BriefExtreme1 karma

Around how much is the acceptance rate for Tisch? How does it compare to other NYU schools such as the CAS or Stern?

NothingButDramaLLC4 karma

I can tell you for Tisch Drama, we had about 3,000 applicants to the department. We would accept between 500-600 of those. This would then boil down to the 400 who chose us and became the incoming class.

Keep in mind that this is a much higher acceptance rate than other BFA theater schools have because Tisch Drama is uniquely large. Many other theater programs are small, accepting as few as 16-20 students into their conservatories.

I can't speak to Tisch in general and I'm not sure how it compares to other schools at NYU.

billy-werner1 karma

Hi, I’m class of 2022, and I really want to be and actor, I’ve been doing high school plays over the years. And I’ve taken a bunch of acting classes in Seattle where I’m from, the problem is that o don’t have very good grades(mostly C’s and B’s) my question was can I still get into the school off of my audition? And also what do you think would be the best path for me to take to get to a professional level of working in film?

NothingButDramaLLC1 karma

The weight of the college application versus the artistic review varies from school to school. But these are colleges and universities so academics do matter. I would suggest having some non-audition schools on your list as well. Most BA programs, for example, don't require an audition. You will declare a theater major usually in sophomore year.

Getting a solid foundation in acting for the stage will serve as a good base from which to learn how to adjust your technique for the camera. It doesn't work the other way around. Many BFA programs offer upper level classes in on-camera acting. If not through a college program, many acting studios offer classes in acting for the camera, too.

scapo96881 karma

Why "former"?

NothingButDramaLLC7 karma

I left to move into my consulting practice full time. I learned a lot and really enjoyed the work I did in my twelve years at NYU. But I had more I wanted to do! I'm really enjoying building Nothing But Drama into a resource for arts kids applying to college!

awkwardoxfordcomma1 karma

How do you best recommend students find and identify monologue best suited for certain auditions?

NothingButDramaLLC1 karma

Read plays. Wonderful to increase knowledge of dramatic literature but time consuming.

Starting with a monologue book or two would allow the student to read through numerous monologues at once. They must be monologues from PUBLISHED PLAYS. Do not use a book containing monologues written just for that book.

Ask their drama teachers and directors and alumni and friends who know them and their acting for suggestions of roles to look at.

AgileSeaworthiness31 karma

Do you think that taking classes in a private studio is as good as taking classes in college ? I’ve seen that almost all the successful actors have had their training in college.

NothingButDramaLLC2 karma

Training is training. It's not necessary to go through an expensive degree program to get professional training. If a student wants to use their undergraduate experience to study theater, then terrific! But there are many well-regarded actor training studios out there, especially in NYC, that will help you on your way to becoming a professional actor.

impengwings1 karma

Do you take students from France ?

NothingButDramaLLC2 karma

NYU has many international students in the department. You wouldn't be alone! And the university has resources for international students and Tisch Student Affairs provides a weekly afternoon get-together for its international students across the various arts departments.

itssarahw0 karma

How many slots are available for prospective students whose parents have not donated a significant amount of money to the real estate hungry NYU?

NothingButDramaLLC3 karma

The department has space for 400 incoming students each year. About 300 of those are placed in acting studios, 64 in the musical theater studio, and approx 15 in directing and 15 in production & design.

There are plenty of spots for non-billionaires. :)

rdgrdmdfld0 karma

Do you tell students about the casting couch?

About the Harvey Weinstein’s and Kevin Spaceys of the filn/theatre world?

NothingButDramaLLC6 karma

Interesting question. As I mostly interacted with students and families on the way in, that never came up. But I wonder if teachers in upper-level classes and workshops, like Preparing for the Profession or Audition Technique, address that concern. It would be wise to make the students aware of predators like that and to empower them to be vigilant, careful and free to report the first sign of shadiness or potential abuse.

Crackoholic-4 karma

So you don't? You're merely entertaining the thought of it being implemented.

Very careful wording.

NothingButDramaLLC3 karma

Yes, I was careful specifically because I was not familiar with the specifics of the curricula of those upper-level electives. I would HOPE they address that issue! I'm just not sure if they do. And given the recent greater awareness of the predatory atmosphere that artists can encounter, I would presume that many schools and programs have included discussions about it in their career preparedness curricula.