The Dr. Susan S. McKinney Department of Theatre provides students with a diverse, holistic theatre education. Participants partake in a rigorous four-year program that provides opportunities to explore the numerous facets of the medium— resulting in well-rounded graduates that are ready to pursue professional or continuing academic endeavors.

Our unique series of courses allow students to experiment with acting, directing, design, and construction through academic analysis and practical application. With topics ranging from acting and career strategies to theatre history and literary interpretation, students graduate with skills that will enable them to find success in the classroom, audition hall, or boardroom.

A participant in the Arts Achieve Grant, a prestigious four-year study of arts education practice, our department strives to continually improve the experiences that we provide our dedicated student body through innovation, collaboration, and ingenuity--both in the classroom and on the stage.

Department Hightlights

  • In 2014, our Theatre Department represented Dr. Susan S. McKinney SSA in the prestigious TEENS ON BROADWAY showcase at the Circle in the Square Theater on Broadway (50th St. and 8th Ave.) Six performing arts-focused high schools participated in the second year of this event, and our students were able to bond with students from other schools while attending informational panels and working with professional theatre technicians to better hone their skills.

  • Our department regularly partners with the Theatre Department from the High School of Leadership and Public Service to create historically-based immersive theatre projects in and around the Trinity Church Graveyard in lower Manhattan. Our students are able to research, write about, and perform various historical figures each year at the annual Halloween celebration.

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McKinney Theater Department Curriculum

Acting and Directing

Adapted from the Method Acting technique, students perform and stage numerous classroom scene studies focusing on character, objective, and motivated blocking. As participants’ skill sets expand, they extend their realism-based training to classical and stylized productions.


Students read and analyze prominent works of theatrical literature and complete design portfolios including costume, set, lighting and publicity designs each year.

Theatre History and Criticism

By using a“Play-of-the-Day” approach, students study major works of traditional and musical theatre while connecting theatre practice to social and political events in different eras.

Audition requirements:


Sarah Lilly (Theater)


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