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Theater Department Admission

An audition is required to be considered for admission into the Theater program at Cornish College of the Arts. The audition gauges your potential for success in the Theater Program.

Please familiarize yourself with the audition requirements listed below, and check our Audition Handbook for more information.

When and Where to Audition

Applicants are strongly encouraged to audition in person. On-campus auditions are hosted beginning in October. Cornish participates in the Unified Theater Auditions/) and conducts auditions at the New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles sites. Cornish also hosts an audition weekend in San Francisco each year.

On Campus Dates 2014 - 2015

  • October 12
  • November 16
  • December 6
  • January 17, 24
  • February 7, 14, 21, 28

Off Campus Dates 2015

  • January 24 & 25, 2015 – New York, New York
  • February 2,3 & 4, 2015 - Chicago, Illinois
  • February 7 & 8, 2015 – Los Angeles, California
  • February 22, 2015 – San Francisco, California

Visit the Unified Theater Audition website for location details.

Audition Requirements

  • Memorize two contrasting monologues. Cornish will provide you with one monologue (see next section); the other monologue is your choice.
  • The monologue you select should be a contemporary piece that is no more than two minutes in running length.
  • Try to choose a monologue in which mood, style and intention offers an interesting contrast to the Cornish selection.
  • It should have a strong objective that allows you to play actions that connect you with another character.
  • Most important, it should be a piece that you enjoy performing.
  • Song Prepare 16 bars of a song (a verse and a chorus) to be sung unaccompanied.
  • Try to choose a song that allows you to play an action and brings your focus out rather than inward.

If you are not used to singing in front of people, don’t worry. We are more concerned about how you deal with the size of emotion required to sing than whether or not you are a “good singer.” Additionally, each audition will include group warm-up and ensemble improvisation work. Each student will have an interview with faculty to discuss your career goals and educational needs. Applicants interested in the Musical Theater concentration should be prepared to discuss their reasons for this choice in their interview

Audition Monologue for Female Applicants

Fool for Love by Sam Shepard MAE:
Okay. Look. I don’t understand what you’ve got in your head anymore. I really don’t. I don’t get it. Now, you desperately need me. Now, you can’t live without me. NOW, you’ll do anything for me. Why should I believe it this time? It was supposed to have been true every time before. Every other time. Now it’s true again. You’ve been jerking me off like this for fifteen years. Fifteen years I’ve been a yo-yo for you. I’ve never been split. I’ve never been two ways about you. I’ve either loved you or not loved you. And now I just plain don’t love you. Understand? Do you understand me? I don’t love you. I don’t need you. I don’t want you. Do you get that? Now if you can still stay then you’re either crazy or pathetic.

Audition Monologue for Male Applicants

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller BIFF:
No! Nobody’s hanging himself, Willy! I ran down eleven flights with a pen in my hand today. And suddenly I stopped, you hear me? And in the middle of that office building, do you hear this? I stopped in the middle of that building and I saw—the sky. I saw the things that I love in this world. The work and the food and time to sit and smoke. And I looked at the pen and said to myself, what the hell am I grabbing this for? Why am I trying to become what I don’t want to be? What am I doing in an office, making a contemptuous, begging fool of myself, when all I want is out there, waiting for me the minute I say I know who I am! Why can’t I say that, Willy?

Audition Online

An in-person audition will give us a chance to actively work with you and better judge your skills, especially improvisational skills, and your ability to work with an ensemble, it is to your advantage to audition in-person at Cornish or for the Cornish representative at the Unified Auditions. If circumstances make an in-person audition difficult, you may submit a DVD. Send your DVD to the Office of Admission, or upload it online at no later than February 1.

Auditioning this way will not allow us to access your improvisation or ensemble skills; therefore we can only admit you on a provisional basis. During the first year we will monitor your progress and development in these areas and make sure you are placed in the appropriate courses and ensembles. Recorded auditions must be accompanied by two letters of recommendation from people familiar with your performance work. They can either be uploaded with the audition, or be sent separately to the Office of Admission. These letters should include a telephone number and email address, if available, for the recommender.


Introduce your audition by stating your name, age and place of residence.  Briefly discuss your goals and experience.  Introduce and then present two contrasting monologues, each no longer than two minutes.  Then sing 16 bars of a song unaccompanied. 

Finally, answer the following questions, in as much depth as you can:

Who is one of your heroes—either in life or in the performing arts—and why?

Imagine that you received a grant to produce a play that you would either commission or write yourself. It could be in the theater of your choice, with the cast of your choice. The only condition is that it has to be about some issue—personal, social, political, environmental—that you care strongly about. What would you want your play to be about and what would you want the audience to take away from the experience of seeing your play?


  • Record your audition in a theater space or rehearsal hall.
  • Make sure that the acoustics are good (with no echo) and that there is sufficient light.
  • No costumes, makeup, or background sound effects should be used.
  • Feature your whole body on the recording though it is permissible to zoom in to a waist-up view once you have begun a monologue.

Please note: We encourage you to watch your audition and do it over if you feel there is some aspect of it that you can improve.