Is SUNY Purchase still a strong BFA Acting

Trying to shrink a college list that is way too long. As a training ground for young actors I’ve always loved SUNY Purchase for a number of reasons. I am wondering though if anyone has an opinion on how strong their BFA program is currently. Their wonderful notable alumni like Parker Posey, Stanly Tucci, Edie Falco etc really harken from a decade ago (or more). I know it is still good and that they’ve added a BA but I’m looking for reasons to make our daunting list smaller. Would the program still be considered very strong for young actors and do their graduates work? Thanks in advance for any opinions on this!

Have you looked at the list from a cost standpoint? That might be a way to shorten the list.

I mean if you get the same degree, but one school costs much more. And actors don’t always earn a lot.

You might be able to run net price calculators on college websites, to get estimates on costs.

Purchase has a huge number of very successful grads who were born in the 50s, 60s and 70s. They are familiar names because they’ve had a chance to build their careers but it’s true, (and yes, the three you mentioned graduated far more than a decade ago!) they are now in their 40s, 50s, and 60s so relying on those stats isn’t relevant to today. Your best bet is to ask the people at Purchase where their more recent grads are working. Most schools will happily provide you with this type of information.

I agree with @alwaysamom. My D is a sophomore in the BFA Acting program at SUNY. The training is outstanding and, according to my D, the school reports many working graduates (beyond those featured on the website). Perhaps not on Broadway but working. Students do work with industry professionals throughout their four years and the program showcases in NY, LA and Chicago to maximize exposure.

2010 graduates founded Strangemen & Co. - they put up “The Woodsman” to great acclaim. I also came across this article when my D was searching:

Unlike musical theatre where it seems peak years are the first 10 or so out of college, the actors in straight plays tend to be older so perhaps the more recent grads are building the foundations for their careers.

It’s all about the training, and Purchase is in the top tier of BFA actor training.

There were quite a few Purchase alumni on and Off-Broadway this season! The program is still strong–it is very, very traditional in the “true conservatory” approach. If you want you can message me and I’d be happy to talk to you about specifics about step program!

No. The second year acting teacher is horrible.
One instructor is no longer capable of teaching students what he knows. Instead, he creates an environment plastered with trepidation, suppression, and his elated egomania - putting his ego to battle with with the student’s egos (which in any serious way - do not exist). He is somewhat perverted and all the way manipulative. There are not only a few, but hundreds of dedicated acting teachers in New York that are willing and able to teach Strasberg’s methods to artistic, eager young students (I’m being taught Strasberg by one right now and the work is SO ALIVE and liberating), and they should allow these wonderful theatre educators in! He is a cruel, strange man who uses his classroom time to purposefully repeat his WAY too personal encounters, his ego feeding off young student’s open-eyed interest, and for years and years on end, has sent students into a downward spiral, making them battle their sense of self, question their desired dreams, and left them in emotional loops. After hearing one too many horror stories as a result of his teachings (artists starting antidepressants, artists saying they’re not talented and don’t want to act any longer, artists saying he touched them, artists saying they had reoccurring nightmares of him, artists saying they are afraid to act in front of him, and the famous “He is ruining my life”), I think it’s time Purchase put deep care and deep thought into who is teaching, not just what is being taught

This was posted elsewhere on this forum. As this poster has never posted on this board, I would take everything said with a great amount of skepticism. I have seen posts like this about different people (teachers/directors) and it usually is an issue with the poster and not the person being posted about. Slander is serious, and unless there is corroboration from others to back up claims, I would not be inclined to take a random posters word.

@stagedoormama, I agree with you about being cautious about the motives behind and attack that is someone’s very first post. However, it got me thinking about Purchase, which hasn’t really been on our radar. I know all lists are flawed, but I started scouting around various “best bfa acting” types - and the most recent one where I saw Purchase was a Hollywood Reporter one that came out in 2012. Have they been having issues lately?

They’ve always had a reputation for being good but tough on students. So does Julliard. My S decided not to apply because of things he’d heard (in the vein of what the poster said), but there is no question that Suny Purchase turns out very well trained, successful actors.

When considering programs from an acting perspective, the director of our regional professional theatre with whom my daughter worked over the years gave her some perspective when she was considering her options. He pointed out that some programs are in essence designed to break a person down in order to somewhat remove their shell and personality traits that might interfere with complete transformation into a character. It is a process that by its very nature leaves one vulnerable and while it turns out some fantastic actors, it is definitely not for everyone and can be tough and even harmful for some. Almost like acting boot camp in a way. There are many other approaches as well that turn out equally good actors, because what is important is that the training resonates with the student so they can grow. That’s why it is so very important for a: the student and parent helping in this process to really know their tolerance and emotional stamina when it comes to different approaches and b: understand the program’s philosophy regarding actor training by researching their curriculum, methods, and instructors in advance. Self-awareness is a really big part of this process and that can be hard for a 17 - 18 year old to grasp, because they might not really understand what they need from a training program - is it tough, intense, experimental, nurturing, etc. Again, it all comes down to fit.

Hi. Please ignore this post. This was an old entry, not entirely written by me, that was just posted and I’m having a lot trouble understanding why it was posted so long after. Over a year ago this was written, I have been trying to delete the post but it won’t allow me. I am working with the CC admin to delete. Purchase is a good program but I am not equip to comment on it either way. This is not entirely true information and was not written by me. Dismiss information in comment, although it seems difficult to, working on removing it now. I don’t know why this has been posted, and the account name is false. Confusion being investigated.

True and insightful. Great comment @sopranomtmom.

Purchase is a tough environment and definitely not for everyone. They turn out great actors, but it’s often a difficult journey to get there. I’d be happy to answer any specific questions about the program.

Hi there I’d love for you to elaborate on the “difficult journey” to get there. My son is applying to this school as a host of others but I want to make sure it’s a fit for him. I for the life of me do not understand why he chooses east coast when Chicago has amazing theater and performing art schools. I’m still trying to convince him. One of his theater teachers suggested suny as he’s a graduate but he’s also a teacher and my son really wants to perform.

Purchase’s philosophy is “tough love” and "brutal honesty.’’ Students are evaluated four times a year and the expectations are very, very high. The intention is to "deconstruct to reconstruct.’’ All the hours/workload are pretty extreme. You need very thick skin to thrive at Purchase. It’s intense. But the training is amazing.

That reputation was part of what took Purchase off my D’s list - the head of her PA HS pushed her hard to apply. I have no problem with tough love - but the whole “we break you before we build you” (which was something we heard at an info session from a faculty member, along with a joke about how many of their students end up needing mental health support) was a turn off. It may produce great things, but didn’t seem like a very warm place to learn

SUNY Purchase is tough because it’s a top program; and it’s a top program because it’s tough. My experience with Purchase is through my daughter who just graduated in May 2017 from their BFA Design/Tech program (concentration in lighting design), and is now successfully working in her chosen career in NYC. So my knowledge of the BFA Acting program is through her and the numerous shows I’ve seen at the school over the years. Here are a couple thoughts:

For a top law school, you go to Yale or Stanford. For a top medical school, you go to Harvard or Johns Hopkins. For a top engineering school, you go to MIT. The same applies for the very, very competitive world of performing arts – luck and “being discovered” rarely happen and those who want to have a successful career in theatre need solid skills, training, experience, credentials, and connections. That’s what performing arts students get from SUNY Purchase.

Students who need a warm and fuzzy nurturing environment probably are not ready to push themselves in a rigorous training program like Purchase; but frankly, may have to ask themselves if they can really succeed as a working actor, where you need a tough hide to persevere through audition after audition and yet still may not be cast. Once out of high school, you are no longer the kid who usually gets the lead because you’re decent onstage and only three other people auditioned for the part. With a BFA or BA in theatre, trying to get roles in NYC, LA, Chicago, etc., you’ll find yourself up against thousands of others with the same training and chasing the same dream. The few conservatory of theatre programs in the nation, like SUNY Purchase, are intentionally rigorous and designed to help the students who make it through the program to achieve professional success. A quote from this article (from a previous poster) sums it up best: “the intense training at Purchase resembles what graduates will face in the professional world. The goal is to ensure the student will be able to adapt to any project, any workload, and any director.”

As others have commented, it is absolutely a great program with a high rate of graduates working in their chosen profession. The quality of the student performances I’ve seen over several years, particularly in the BFA program, were top-notch and of a such a professional caliber that you’d forget these were students still learning their craft. As for cost, my daughter was an out-of-state student and the cost was still very reasonable compared to many other schools (such as Rutgers, etc.). When coupled with it being a top program, it was well worth the investment. Yes, her program was rigorous, but she absolutely loved the place. And the professional connections the students make with each other, with faculty and alum, are invaluable.

Bottom line, if your son or daughter wants to be an actor, if that’s been their dream for years and they’re absolutely sure that’s what they want to do, they should seriously consider Purchase. It’s not just a college theatre program; it’s a Conservatory of Theatre preparing them for a career in the professional theatre world.

Thank you so much @ad_astrava. Congratulations to your daughter. This is what I needed to hear. My daughter wants this intensity and always has. She fell in love with Purchase. Tough odds to get a spot but she’ll give it her heart and what will be will be. I so appreciate your response.

Have to respectfully disagree with the above poster…if what he/she says is true then Playbill would only be filled with students who have graduated from Purchase and that is clearly not the case. Look at any Broadway show cast listing and it will show a HUGE variety of schooling backgrounds of the performers. Many from “warm and fuzzy” environments as well as “tougher” settings. Some kids thrive in a “tougher” setting while others prefer a softer, calmer environment. Both can be quite successful depending on their style of learning. Toughness does not create greatness, but doing the work needed as an actor is what makes the difference. And that is found within not from the institution.