In the early 1980s, young actors sufficiently trained in classical theatre techniques were becoming more and more difficult to find.
With a national reputation built primarily on The Old Globe’s Shakespeare productions, Founding Director Craig Noel knew such actors were critical to the theatre's future. Noel decided that if he couldn’t find classically trained actors elsewhere, he would develop a program to train them in San Diego.
In 1987, Noel and University of San Diego Vice-President and Provost Sally Furay, RSCJ, established what is now The Old Globe and University of San Diego Shiley Graduate acting program. The result has been one of the most acclaimed classical training programs in the United States. Currently the program accepts seven students each year from hundreds of applicants. With only a 2% acceptance rate, it has become one of the most competitive graduate acting programs in the country.
The program's graduates have made their mark in the profession. They have performed extensively on and off-Broadway, in regional theatres, feature films and on television. They have also founded successful theatre companies, written award-winning plays and screenplays, and performed throughout Europe and Canada. One notable graduate is Jim Parsons, the Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning star of “The Big Bang Theory.”
Hal Holbrook and Michael Nichols (MFA '93) in KING LEAR, directed by Jack O'Brien. photo: Ken Howard
Jim Parsons (MFA '01), Jonathan McMurtry, Joel Anderson in The Old Globe's production of DA, directed Richard Seer.
photo: Craig Schwartz
Private funding for the program has been contributed through a generous endowment established by
Donald and Darlene Shiley.
Additional support for the program is provided by
The Dorothy Brown Endowment Fund
Louis Yager Cantwell Foundation