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DePaul Makes Top 20 Acting Schools In Hollywood Survey

By Ted Cox | May 31, 2017 4:27pm
 Joe Mantegna starred in a Chicago production of
Joe Mantegna starred in a Chicago production of "Hair" in the '70s, when he was also a student at the Goodman School of Drama, later the Theatre School at DePaul University.
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Twitter/Joe Mantegna

DEPAUL — Act like you've been there before, the saying goes, and so the Theatre School at DePaul University is ho-hum about once again being named among the top academic programs for actors in a survey conducted by an industry bible.

"It's always been there," said Dexter Bullard, head of graduate acting and artistic director of DePaul's Theatre School Showcase, on the program once again being included in The Hollywood Reporter's survey of top schools for actors. "We always end up in the top," Bullard added.

DePaul ranked 18th among the top 25 "best acting schools" where aspiring stars can get a master's degree in fine arts.

The Reporter piece cited "The X-Files" star Gillian Anderson and character actor John C. Reilly as alums. Bullard immediately added Joe Mantegna and Sam Wanamaker from the days when it was known as the Goodman School of Drama, as well as more recent grads such as Monique Coleman of "High School Musical," Joe Keery of "Stranger Things" and Alex Koch of "Under the Dome."

 The Hollywood Reporter cited actress Gillian Anderson as a top DePaul alum.
The Hollywood Reporter cited actress Gillian Anderson as a top DePaul alum.
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Twitter/Gillian Anderson

And while The Reporter limited it to acting MFA programs, Bullard did not, citing playwright and "Moonlight" Oscar-winner Tarell Alvin McCraney as an alumnus.

"It's not just actors and actresses," Bullard said. "We train everybody in theater — lighting designers, directors, technicians, you name it. We have always trained the full spectrum of theater students, not just actors."

The survey marked DePaul down for accepting too many MFA candidates, and for not having a partnership with Actors' Equity, but Bullard could counter with the hands-on experience actors and theater students often gather at DePaul's Cinespace Studios. He also cited Chicago's thriving theater scene, both downtown and in neighborhood companies.

Bullard also pointed out that DePaul's Theatre School is a true conservatory, with a set number of spots. "Everyone has to audition or interview to get in," he added.

According to Bullard, there are about 175 students in the Theatre School, and with faculty and staff that brings the department to about 300 people. It takes in 32 actors a year and about 10 other students "of everything else," he said.

"Our goal is excellence in theater training, and we've borne that out in generations and generations over almost 100 years," Bullard said, since the theater school was created in 1925.