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Walden Theatre Conservatory

The world-class Conservatory Program engages young people and our community through extracurricular classes in acting, directing, playwriting, stagecraft, stage combat, dance, movement and voice and with our highly regarded season of plays. Our Shakespeare education program is among the most comprehensive in the nation and culminates each year in the Young American Shakespeare Festival. Conservatory alumni are regularly accepted to and have studied at the country’s finest university theatre training programs. Seven of our graduates have attended The Juilliard School, with others going on to Carnegie Mellon, NYU, Cornish, Minnesota/Guthrie, dePaul, Yale, and a host of other prestigious programs. Former students have had unmatched success professionally in regional theatre, television and motion pictures, both as actors and as production directors & designers. 

Clearly the Walden program is ambitious and sets a high bar for its students. At the same time, they are viewed not just as performers, but as developing human beings as well.
–Theatre Dept. Chair, Cornish College of the Arts.

Look behind the curtain…

Welcome new and prospective students and parents!

You’re invited to look behind the curtain of one of the top theatre training programs in the nation and see firsthand the excellence of our programs for young people ages 5-18 — from novices to pre-professionals. Classes are offered at our main facility on Payne Street and new this year we’re offering classes for ages 6-12 in South Louisville at Americana Community Center. New and prospective families welcome. There’s no obligation to enroll.

CTC on Payne Street

Ages 5-18
Classes begin Sep. 4

Info/Welcome session:
August 29 – 6:00
1123 Payne Street, Louisville

RSVP for Payne Street Session

South Louisville

Ages 6-12
Classes begin Sep. 14

Info/Welcome session:
September 11 – 6:30
4801 Southside Drive, Louisville

RSVP for Americana Session

Enroll Now for Fall 2018 – all locations

Click the button below for info about adult classes (ages 18+)

Adult Classes


Class Levels

IMAGINATION – ages 5-8

Fall 2018 begins September 8-14, choice of two locations: 

Days/Times/locations for Fall 2018:

  • Saturday Mornings at CTC: 9:30 – 11:30am (first day Sep 8)
  • Monday Afternoons at CTC: 4:30-6:30pm (first day Sep 10)
  • Friday Afternoons at Americana Community Center (4801 Southside Dr.): 4:30-6:30pm (first day Sep 14)


PLAY:  Our youngest students ages 5 & 6 will use creative expression and role-play to act out familiar stories together with our skilled Teaching Artists as guides. Using process drama, children learn about acting in a non-competitive and nurturing environment, focusing on the experience of play.

STORYCRAFT:  Students ages 6-8 work with each other and their instructors to conceive and perform an original play. A different theme is chosen each semester – recent themes include Adventure Under the Sea, Things That Go Bump In The Night, and The Enchanted Garden. Students are introduced to character creation, story structure, and playing in front of an audience. They also design and build the set, props, and costumes for a performance that they’ll share with friends and family at the end of the semester. 

IMPROV – ages 9-12

Fall 2018 begins September 8-14, choice of two locations: 


  • Saturday Mornings at CTC: 10:00am – noon (first day Sep 8)
  • Monday Afternoons at CTC: 4:30-6:30pm (first day Sep 10)
  • Friday Afternoons at Americana Community Center (4801 Southside Dr.): 4:30-6:30pm (first day Sep 14)


The actor’s toolkit – voice, body, imagination, courage – is explored through fun games and exercises that strengthen active listening, teamwork, and concentration skills. Students are placed into groups by age & experience with instructors who encourage creative choices, sharing the stage cooperatively with others, and playing outside of comfort zones. An end of semester showcase gives students an opportunity to improvise on stage in front of a live audience.  

STUDIO – ages 10-14

Fall 2018 begins September 5

Days/Times: Wednesdays & Fridays at CTC: 4:30 – 6:30pm (first day Sep 5)


Intermediate students discover 20th century classics and the magic of Shakespeare while studying how to bring a playwright’s words to life. Students learn how to perform scripted material, memorize lines, and work with a director by rehearsing a scene with a partner. Fall semester showcases feature scenes by influential 20th c. playwrights. Spring semester showcases feature a full production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest, or Macbeth. At this level students are eligible to audition for MainStage Conservatory productions.

PLAYMAKING 1 – ages 14-16

Fall 2018 begins September 4

Days/Times: Tuesdays & Thursdays at CTC: 4:00 – 6:00pm (first day Sep 4)


Foundational theatre classes give students an appreciation for all aspects of the art form while preparing them for success at the advanced level and beyond. Audition skills, character creation, improvisation, playwriting & devising, scene study, and stage movement & dance are offered alongside opportunities to perform, write for, and work behind the scenes in our season of plays. Students must take at least one year of classes at this level before being promoted to more specialized, advanced classes. 

APPRENTICE – ages 12-14

Fall 2018 begins September 5

Days/Times: Wednesdays & Fridays at CTC: 4:30 – 6:30pm (first day Sep 5)


The imaginative techniques of America’s greatest acting teachers are studied alongside 10-minute plays from previous Young Playwrights Festivals in the fall. Students tackle multiple roles in an ensemble performance of a popular Shakespearean tragedy (Romeo & Juliet or Hamlet), comedy (Twelfth Night or Much Ado About Nothing), or history (Richard III or Henry V) in the spring. Apprentice students are encouraged to value their contribution to the creative process within a supportive, collaborative environment. Showcases at this level are the last guaranteed performance opportunity within the Conservatory program. 

PLAYWRITING – ages 13-18

***Fall Semester Only*** begins September 10

Days/Times: Mondays at CTC: 4:30 – 6:30

Cost:$350* a-la-carte (or free to join for students already enrolled)

Specialized classes in script development invite an uncensored creative outlet for the hopes, fears, and dreams of young writers. Offered for students interested in submitting plays for the annual Young Playwrights Festival. 

PLAYMAKING 2 – ages 15-18

Fall 2018 begins September 4

Days/Times: Tuesdays & Thursdays at CTC: 4:00 – 6:00pm


Students with a love of creating plays sharpen their storytelling skills through advanced classes in improvisation, physical theatre, playwriting & devising, special projects, and scene study, where students can choose to work on their directing or acting skills. This class is perfect for students who want to do more than just act – future directors, writers, and theatre mavericks cultivate skills that foster their creative spirits. 

PERFORMANCE 1 & 2 – ages 15-18

Fall 2018 begins September 4

Days/Times: Tuesdays & Thursdays at CTC: 4:00 – 6:00pm


Advanced students engage in rigorous training to further develop their stage presence. Rotations in voice, movement, improvisation, and singing for the actor compliment scene study classes that survey a variety of theatrical styles. Performance Class students are the primary casting pool for Conservatory productions. Seniors in good standing who attend Master Skills are invited on our annual Chicago trip to audition for colleges. 

MASTER SKILLS – ages 17-18

Fall 2018 begins 

Days/Times: Saturdays at CTC: 10:00 – noon

Cost: (available to seniors in good standing at no additional fee)

Juniors & Seniors from advanced classes who are preparing for post-secondary auditions become familiar with college level theatre programs across the U.S. and prepare a professional audition package that best represents their talents. 

*Payment plans are available. See the third page of the enrollment form for details.

Financial Aid

Each semester, Commonwealth Theatre Center awards thousands of dollars in need-based tuition assistance. Financial Aid forms (click to request) are due approximately three weeks prior to the beginning of each semester. The scholarship committee, composed of board members and staff, reviews requests and makes awards. All financial information remains strictly confidential, and is not shared with parties other than the evaluation committee and recipient. Because of the high demand for assistance, more partial scholarships than full scholarships are awarded.

Benefits of Participation

The Conservatory challenges and inspires young people to be their most creative selves. Instructors and directors instill in students a love of literature, writing, and theater in a challenging, yet nurturing environment where students learn life skills and make lasting friendships – while learning to act. The skills developed in the Conservatory are ones that are necessary for every child to possess: listening, memorization, physical awareness, focus and concentration, cooperation, communicating verbally and physically and storytelling. Numerous studies have shown that participation in the arts…

  • Improves academic performance and test scores
  • Improves reading and math skills and the capacity for creative thinking
  • Improves attitudes and skills that promote the learning process
  • Builds social bonds, improves self-image, self-regulation and tolerance


Handbook – Fall 2018

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