Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts
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The Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts is a community college located at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California. This institution in Southern California not only provides professional theatre year round but also trains acting and technical artisans for careers in the theatre. The two-year program is the only one of its kind offered by a community college. Unlike most university programs in partnership with professional companies, PCPA fully integrates its resident artists into the studios, shops, and classrooms providing each student with direct mentorship experiences in their area of specialization. The PCPA student learns from, and most importantly, learns with working professionals.
From onstage to offstage, PCPA’s Conservatory provides specialized training for its students. The two-year vocational certificate program combines lectures, labs and classes with the practical hands-on training which students learn when mounting a fully realized production. Conservatory students are mentored by practicing professionals in the classroom.
For actors, the comprehensive curriculum offers no elective subjects. It is a full-time, six- days-a-week commitment. Classes include Acting, Voice, Movement, Musical Theatre Ensemble, Shakespeare, Theatre History, Stage Combat and more. The technical theatre students examine all aspects of production enabling them to develop as designers, craftspeople and technicians. Their areas of study include Stagecraft, Lighting, Sound, Drawing and Rendering, Costuming and Scene Painting.
PCPA offers internships for aspiring theatre professionals. The Actors Ensemble Interns perform in PCPA’s Education and Outreach Tour acting and conducting workshops for grade levels K-12 in area schools. These performance interns also have the opportunity to appear in Mainstage productions. The Technical Theatre Interns hone their skills in a broad range of areas including Stage Management, Scenic Design, Sound Design, Scenic Artist, Carpentry, Lighting, Properties, Costume Design, Costume Construction and Costuming Crafts.
PCPA presented 137 education and outreach performances to more than 25,000 K-12 students from Ventura to Paso Robles and was honored by the California State Senate and State Assembly for "10 years of dedication to bring the arts to students in the schools."
Over the years, PCPA’s conservatory alumni have gone on to become distinguished theatrical professionals. Among the school’s alumni are a number of household names including Academy Award winners Robin Williams, Mercedes Ruehl, and Kathy Bates, as well as three-time Tony Award-winning stage actor Boyd Gaines. Bates, who was a summer intern in summers of 1968 and 1969, fondly recalled, “We ate, drank and slept theater. It was a way to work in a real Equity (the professional actors’union) Theater and really learn our craft.” Zac Efron, a Disney actor also appeared as a young performer in multiple PCPA productions.
PCPA relies heavily on the generosity of its patrons and donors to continue its over four-decades of artistry. Coordinated by PCPA Foundation, its major campaign of the year "Act Now!" in 2009 raised over $272,000 for student scholarship.