Letter from Program Head

Welcome to our site, and thanks for your interest in our program. It is said that graduate study in any field should offer students a bridge to their intended profession. The Professional Actor Training Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has offered such a bridge to its students for forty years, and remains one of the most select and respected actor training programs in the country.  This year The Hollywood Reporter has ranked the PATP as one of the 10 best MFA acting training programs in the country (11th in US/UK/Australia), and Backstage has ranked the PATP as one of the 25 best programs in the US/UK.

We offer our students a rigorous conservatory training program in small classes led by master teachers in excellent facilities, complemented by the opportunity for practical professional training as core members of PlayMakers Repertory Company, the professional LORT theatre associated with the Department of Dramatic Art at UNC Chapel Hill.  Each graduating MFA student is, upon arrival, a full member of the PlayMakers’ acting company, leaves the Program with membership in Actors Equity Association, and is seen by agents and casting professionals in a respected showcase presentation in New York.

At PlayMakers, Vivienne Benesch serves as Producing Artistic Director of PlayMakers Repertory Company (hear from Vivienne on the Letter from the Producing Artistic Director page.) Vivienne follows Joseph Haj, who from 2006 to 2015 was PlayMakers’ Producing Artistic Director and is now Artistic Director of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.  While we miss Joe (who is himself a graduate of the Professional Actor Training Program at UNC), his accession to the leadership of the Guthrie increases the reach of our program and enhances yet further the Program’s national reputation.  Further, Joe’s move to the Guthrie is a testament to the quality of the work produced at PlayMakers and the work of the actors in the Professional Actor Training Program.  With Vivienne, an Obie-Award-winning actor who for ten years served as Artistic Director of the Chautauqua Theater Company and Conservatory, and who has regularly directed and taught at Juilliard and NYU Tisch in addition to maintaining a thriving professional directing career, we welcome a leader and colleague of extraordinary reach, accomplishment, and potential.

A sample of PATP actors’ roles on the PlayMakers mainstage in recent seasons includes Miranda, Ferdinand, and Ariel in The Tempest; Olivia, Orsino, and Viola in Twelfth Night; Demetrius, Lysander, Helena and Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Issac in Disgraced; Lady Percy in Henry IV; Rosalind, Orlando, and Touchstone in As You Like It; Nick and Honey in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; Ken in Red; Cliff in Cabaret; Cinderella in Into the Woods, Ruth in A Raisin in the Sun; and Jim, Betsy, Karl, and Albert in Clybourne Park, among many others. Recent guest directors at PlayMakers include Tyne Rafaeli, Desdemona ChiangDominique SerrandWendy C. GoldbergMike DonahueMichael MichettiSeret ScottDavis McCallumLiesl TommyBrendon FoxLisa Rothe, and Libby Appel.

Classes in the program are no less rigorous and are the foundation of the training. In addition to regular classes with our superb resident faculty, the Professional Actor Training Program invites leading artistic and industry professionals to join us for projects, workshops, and master classes. Recent projects and guest professionals have included:

The Program’s stature in the field is marked by the success we have had in placing our actors at the Chautauqua Theater Company Conservatory and the Guthrie Experience for Actors in Training, two of the country’s most influential summer programs for early-career professionals.

Our next auditions will be in January and February of 2019 in New York, Chicago, or Chapel Hill. See the “Apply” page on this site for information on applications and auditions.

Ray Dooley
Head, Professional Actor Training Program

PS: My goal is to keep this site as current and comprehensive as possible.  If you have specific further questions about the Program, please contact me at rdooley@email.unc.edu.



Department of Dramatic Art
CB #3230
Center for Dramatic Art
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3230

(919) 962-1132