Demystifying the URTAS

If you’re hoping to be accepted to an MFA in Acting program, you’ll need to mind your U’s and R’s and T’s and A’s. The University Resident Theatre Association (URTAs) holds centralized audition events for graduate theatre programs across the U.S. and Europe to come together and audition numerous applicants all in the same place. While the acronym may be intimidating, the URTAs are designed to make the MFA audition process more affordable and accessible to everyone. Keep reading for the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the URTAs!

Almost every applicant for the MFA in Acting attends the URTAs. Over the years, dozens of schools across the country have made a habit of attending these collective auditions. Last year, around 1,200 MFA-seekers auditioned at the URTAs. Some schools at this point only hold auditions at URTAs. The URTAs has two sections: URTA Member schools and guest schools. By signing up for the URTAs, you are guaranteed to be seen by every member school in a collective audition. Since it has grown in popularity, the URTAs now feature a second day of auditions for guest schools to the URTAs, thus increasing the visibility of auditionees by MFA-granting degree programs. When looking at their directory, you will see URTA schools denoted by “URTAS” and guest schools by “GUESTS” . In addition to schools directly working with the URTA schedule, many non-URTA schools travel to the same cities around the same time in order to offer a chance for interested applicants to audition for their schools more conveniently.

Much like the Unifieds for undergraduate theatre auditions, this event organizes MFA in Acting programs worldwide to come together for students seeking graduate-level theatre education to be able to audition for multiple programs in one place.

Because of their efforts to centralize auditions, many programs attend URTAs every recruiting year and additionally change their audition requirements to match the URTA requirement. This requirement is: two contrasting monologues, one classical and one contemporary, no more than three minutes in total length. Some may ask you to have a 16 bar acapella song on-hand and a few backup monologues in callbacks, so our earlier recommendation on “MFA in Acting Audition Requirements” of having 4 or so monologues on-hand holds true! If you need help with the selection and perfection of your pieces, consult our Helpful Articles, Performing Shakespeare course, or our roster of coaches for more assistance!

For the URTA audition, you will perform your three minute audition once in front of all schools in attendance. From there, you may receive callbacks from specific schools, where they will schedule a time for you to meet one-on-one with interested schools. At these callbacks, you may be asked to perform your material again, take adjustments, show them additional material, or simply interview with the program!

The URTA auditions themselves take place on specific weekends in January and February. Applications are due by early January and open as soon as late summer. Thus, you can be involved with URTAs for almost six months from late summer to mid-winter!

The URTAs, like the Unified auditions, are located in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago in local hotels as well as virtually via Zoom. You can choose whichever option is most accessible to you, though in-person auditions are preferred by most schools.

The URTAs will make your audition travel more affordable and allow you to save travel budgeting for callbacks rather than just initial auditions. The URTAs’ large roster also allows you to audition for schools you didn’t apply for and ones that may not have even been on your radar! You’ll get to talk to faculty in-person and connect with other people in the exact same shoes as you: passionate about theater and hoping someone will take a chance on them. Who knows, you could meet your future cohort colleagues!

The URTA website has all of the information you’ll ever need:
They typically release registration information in late summer, so set your calendars for July and check back then. Registration is open from around that time until early January. You’ll apply on the Acceptd platform, their application platform, and be placed into a Whova group, a conference-planning application centered around chatrooms, with other applicants and industry professionals, where you can chat, ask questions, and even attend workshops.

Theater.Academy’s roster of personalized coaches are ready and able to assist you along the way to your MFA, including an audition at URTAs. Some of them even attended themselves! Check out our coaching services by clicking here, and you’re one step closer to your MFA.

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