BW students Courtney Horne & Maggie Williams in CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF by Tennessee Williams

The state green lights Northeast Ohio's only BFA in acting, which features a fresh approach to classical training and equity performance opportunities.

BW gains approval for new BFA in acting, partners with Great Lakes Theater

July 26, 2016

BW students Courtney Horne & Maggie Williams in CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF by Tennessee WilliamsThe Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) has approved a new BW undergraduate major in acting, which includes a fresh approach to classical actor training, and a distinctive collaboration with the esteemed Great Lakes Theater (GLT) professional acting company.

The program, leading to a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in acting, with an emphasis in classical drama, is the only BFA in acting in Northeast Ohio and only BFA in classical acting in the Midwest.

Prospective BFA majors will begin to enroll, by audition, in fall 2016.  

Personal training, professional opportunities

BW student Austin Gonsor in THE TWO NOBLE KINSMEN by ShakespeareBW’s BFA in acting will build on the University’s recognized strength in theatre arts and include strong collaboration with BW’s nationally acclaimed Conservatory program in music theatre, including cross-program faculty teaching. Much like the music theatre program, BW’s BFA will feature strong professional partnerships and immediate, multiple performance opportunities on stages within and outside BW.

“With a faculty comprised of working professional actors, designers, and directors, our BFA students will benefit from professional experience in and out of the classroom,” said professor Adam Heffernan.

Distinctive alliance with Great Lakes Theater

Great Lakes Theater logo

Under a formal partnership with Great Lakes Theater, BW BFA students will understudy and earn equity points at Cleveland’s classic theater company, as well as audition for productions at GLT’s cross-country strategic alliance theatres, Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival and Idaho Shakespeare Festival. The BW-GLT alliance is one of only a handful of recognized, active partnerships between an equity theatre and an undergraduate program, which are more common at the graduate level.

“We are thrilled to expand our longtime partnership with BW and enthusiastically support the university’s innovative efforts to afford groundbreaking professional development opportunities for its new BFA acting program students,” said Bob Taylor, GLT’s executive director.

Charles Fee, GLT’s producing artistic director, added “We look forward to welcoming BW’s BFA acting students to our artistic family and to working alongside Adam [Heffernan] to provide a truly unique educational experience for our next generation of theatre artists.”

Fresh take on the classics provides in-demand training

Brittany Pirozzoli and Joseph Carmello in Charles Mee’s BIG LOVE  (based on Aeschylus's THE SUPPLIANTS)“BW’s innovative BFA curriculum will provide a fresh take on the classics and a classic approach to new works, training actors who can do sitcoms and Hamlet,” Heffernan added.

Heffernan, who has worked in film, television and theatre across the country, references recent national arts media reports that point to the proliferation of British actors in American film and television as evidence of the need for a foundation in the classics. 

“Casting directors have noticed the gap in classical training in American theatre education,” Heffernan notes. “BW’s program is prepared to fill that gap.”

Details and audition information

Details on BW's new BFA program and information on auditions are available at

About Great Lakes Theater

Great Lakes Theater (GLT), northeast Ohio’s professional classic theater company since 1962, is one of the nation’s preeminent regional theaters and the first resident company of Playhouse Square. GLT features a resident company of artists and brings the world’s greatest plays to life each season in its revolutionary and intimate home at the re-imagined Hanna Theatre. GLT also presents the region’s annual production of A Christmas Carol each year at the Ohio Theatre. On its mainstage and through its extensive educational programming, GLT positively impacts the lives of over 100,000 adults and students each season.