Stonestreet I - First Semester Curriculum

For first-time attendees, this curriculum introduces students to the art of screen acting, providing courses in its many genres, from the audition phase to the production phase. In this semester, students adapt and augment their previous acting training for use on the screen.  Work on actors unique qualities, approach and screen storytelling skills as an actors are important components of Stonestreet I along with making strong relationships and bridges into the industry before graduating.

Stonestreet I is offered in Fall, Spring, Summer I, and Summer II for 8 Credit Hours.

Classes Offered During Stonestreet’s First Semester:


Instructors:    Jennifer McCabe, Alana Barrett-Adkins, Angel Desai

This course is designed to give theater-trained actors a chance to experience what they need to do to reach a professional level screen performance. Students learn the peculiarities of screen acting by working on scripts in a single camera setting, alternately in medium two shots and close-ups. While inviting any and all previously learned techniques, this class helps students widen their tools and techniques and think creatively outside of the box when it comes to creating a compelling, believable and moving character on screen. Students work only on material that is unfamiliar to them, strengthening their skills for creating characters and performances that can tell a story, illuminate something hidden, and develop material without a previously drawn road map. Additionally, this course pays particular attention to the director-actor relationship and helps to strengthen skills in communicating on set, building a respectful work ethic, taking direction, and creating a positive working relationship on set.


Instructor:   Ellen Parks, CSA

With video playback being their most valuable tool for self-awareness, analysis and growth, the actors are immersed into the fully self-revealing mode of expression that the camera asks of them. Using assigned material from a wide variety of produced screenplays and teleplays, theater scripts and contemporary poetry, we dig deeply into dramatic structure and the revealing of character that each kind of writing demands. Work with actors is on an inspirational as well as a practical level. With all of their classwork videotaped for analysis and study, we build on each actor’s primary training, to activate a vigorous and juicy creative imagination, make inspired and meaningful choices, utilize a mature, flexible emotional instrument, have the courage to transform and the stamina to meet any director’s needs. The class will inform and prepare actors to successfully navigate the demands, benefits and pitfalls of on-camera work in a professional “real world” context beyond the classroom. We demystify the demands of on-camera interviews and review how they are paired with auditions, so each actor can fully acknowledge their unique strengths and attributes, gaining confidence, comfort and authority on-camera.  


Instructor:    Cormac Bluestone

Students in the class hone their screen acting skills in a process-oriented environment that closely replicates a real-world film set.  Throughout the semester, students prepare and perform multiple scenes from unproduced screen and teleplays, and are asked to develop a critical eye by both evaluating and editing footage.  Focal points include script analysis, preparation of strong storytelling and character choices, on-camera technique, taking direction, and on-set flexibility and focus leading to fresh and organic performances.

The class also prepares the actor for the mufti-faceted world of the screen by offering hands-on experience on set; with instructor guidance, students assume the full complement of production roles, including director, cinematographer, AD, editor, producer, and so on.  Exposure and practice in these various positions aid the actor to feel more confident and relaxed with his or her surroundings on set, ensuring a more natural screen presence, and with a deeper understanding of the full production procedure, actors are empowered to make intelligent, informed decisions both in front of the camera and in their careers.


Instructor: Gabriel Frye-Behar

This class demonstrates how students can use their training as actors to be innovative, original writers as well. The class moves through the different stages of how to develop and craft an idea through a highly collaborative process, teaches techniques that allow the students to push

their characters in bold and interesting directions, and illustrates the uniqueness, and exciting possibilities of telling a story cinematically. Ultimately every student stars in a short scene that they have developed throughout the semester and directs a longer project that they may continue developing in Stonestreet’s Advanced Second Semester Program.


Instructor:   Gil Zabarsky

This class is a practical class to excel at screen auditioning for everything from pilots to episodic shows, sit-coms and dramatic series as well as all genres of film.  Students learn to be self-sufficient auditioners and exactly what is needed to prepare on your own so that every screen audition is unique, spontaneous and guided with strong and interesting choices that with practice and actual auditioning in Stonestreet’s Screen Industry Workshop Class, students gain confidence that they really know what they are doing in the very different arena of film and television.


Instructor:   Donna McKenna

This course is designed to give students a complete overview of how the business of show business functions, to understand how the art and craft of acting compliment the film and television industry.  Each week, we discuss facets of the business as they pertain to film, television, commercials, and industrials. Classes include mock auditions in these areas, including interviews, cold readings, and prepared auditions. Topics covered include: the role and function of the casting director, the manager, and the agent; SAG, AFTRA and EQUITY as they pertain to professional work; the climate of the business in its most employable cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta et al); the headshot’s importance; show business periodicals and websites; alternative sources to seek employment, representation, career management and continued education.

Students will gain a deeper understanding of not only the business of acting, but where they specifically fit into and how they can also help shape the industry.   How to create a website, maximize industry connections and plan for post-graduation. Special guests including producers, managers, agents, SAG reps, coaches and more will be brought in to help students apply what they are learning to audition settings, union policies, selecting material for themselves and see how they resonate within the industry.  By the end of the course students will understand best practices for headshots, resumes, self-tapes, know how to take advantage of classes offered in NYC to improve their craft and meet industry professionals, have a fully published actor/artist website, have at least one fully fleshed out on-brand social media platform and have a full roster of industry professionals with whom they are connected.


Instructor:    David Cady, Lori Hammell

This course offers practical techniques in preparing for commercial auditions, including how to interpret copy, approach non-verbal scenarios, and understand some of what casting directors are looking for as well as where to be original and break with the status quo.  This class is also a warm-up and preparation for the auditions that students will give in front of commercial agents, casting directors, and managers who attend Stonestreet’s industry workshops each week.


Instructors:    Guest Instructors bringing their expertise.

Guests from the industry work with students in a master class situation from Voice-overs to Auditions, Sit-coms to how to maintain a healthy and creative life with guests from our Behind the Scenes at Stonestreet Series such as Susan Sarandon, Kevin Bacon, Edie Falco, James Earl Jones et al.


Instructors:    Guest Talent Agents, Casting Directors, Managers

This class begins week 4 through the semester, once students have had a chance to work on audition material in and outside of their other classes and are then prepared to do any kind of screen audition with confidence. It is an opportunity to showcase their work and talent to visiting agents in a group setting, and then receive industry and Stonestreet faculty feedback. This workshop is highly regarded by the industry because of Stonestreet’s Screen conservatory and program.  the impact it has on the students’ work and auditioning skills, and its use as a casting tool. This class is monitored by David Cady and Gil Zabarsky; connecting what is learned in their respective classes to the real environment of an audition and vice versa.


Students who wish to start creating a reel in the first semester, often do with the original work they create and edit in this class.  It is during the second and third semester that Stonestreet produces, with and for the trained actors, completely professionally lit, original films, pilots, and series right from the beginning of the semester.  Trailers, shorts, features and pilots can be seen on, Stonestreet FB, and in international film festivals from Tribeca to Hoboken, Sedona to Big Apple Film Festivals.  *For the ambitious hard working first semester Stonestreet student, a reel can be made from well chosen unproduced, well prepared, screen work shot in various classes* during and after the first semester.