Acting & Theater for Teens

Parent Q&A

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  • Hi, 

    Can someone recommend a teen program for acting? Has anyone's kid done anything with Berkeley Rep or Berkeley playhouse? We'd appreciate hearing both positive and negative experiences. Also he is quite serious about acting, so we'd like to find something that is fairly professional and not too little kid-ish and since he's currently at a high school in Oakland with not much of a drama program (they haven't done a play so far and it's possible that they won't at all this year) and he is quite jazzed to participate production of some sort (play or even some kind of film or anything of the like). Thanks for any suggestions.  

    My daughter is now studying musical theatre in NYC and was involved in a bunch of local theatre stuff. It’s definitely an exciting, arduous journey. Highly recommend ACT Young Conservatory - classes, college audition workshop, the networking, etc. Also Berkeley Rep youth classes and their Teen Council to meet other theatre lovers. There are a couple of local improv programs that my daughter wanted to try but could never fit it in her schedule. If interested in musical theatre, then definitely YMTC and Berkeley Playhouse. For camera work, my daughter did a few gigs mostly as an extra, everything from a music video for a local singer to commercials to Antman — all fun and interesting to see how a production works. She took an on-camera class at Nancy Hayes Casting and that led to a local agent. This didn’t lead to a lot of work but it gave her experience with working with an agent. If son wants to go to college for acting, do a bunch of research way in advance and understand the auditioning process that goes along with the regular college application process. Highly recommend going to one of the Unified so your son can audition for a lot of colleges in one local. My daughter ended up going to both the one in NYC and in Chicago for both call-backs and first auditions. Best of luck to your son (and the parents!)

    My kid did many programs with Berkeley Rep, and had a wonderful time. The teachers were professional theater people. They also had a "teens see plays" rate where teens went to the plays and had a Q & A. This was before COVID, so I'm not sure how much of their program has resumed.

  • My daughter is 15 and has a new interest in 'screen acting' (as apposed to theater apparently)...she is taking a high school acting class now at Berkeley Rep which she really enjoys but wants more. She is a complete beginning without any experience yet.  She's been dying to try the First Take Acting Program in SF, which she found on line.  I'm worried it's a money maker and not legit, has anyone had a teen take classes there?  Apparently this is geared towards film/TV vs. theater.  Or other recommendations for acting classes that are not theater? While the logical path to me is signing up for a high school drama play, I do want to at least educate myself and be supportive since she is really interested.

    Many thanks

    I have no experience with first take but has your daughter looked at FABA ( film acting Bay Area) in emeryville?  My daughter took lessons from brian there ( before the pandemic ) and They may have started again?  They have teen and adult classes and a variety of skill levels. Some of the kids were working professionally.  

    I don't know about First Take but A.C.T. in San Francisco has summer classes for on-camera acting for high school students:…

    My kid, who's also taken classes at Berkeley Rep, will enroll this summer.

  • Mime Camp or Class?

    Dec 11, 2018

    Are there any camps or classes that include pantomime?   Also looking for referrals for physical comedy for pre-teen boy.  


    ACT in SF has a physical comedy class for 6th-8th graders.   It’s close to BART.   

  • Anyone know of opportunities for teens to get involved in set building and theater tech? The only one I can find is Youth Musical Theater Company: Any experience with them or suggestions for other opportunities? My teen is homeschooled so can't get this experience through school. Thanks!

    Berkeley Rep has programs for teens. 

    Have you looked at classes at the local community college? I teach at a college in Livermore and we have certificate in Technical Theatre ( but, I'm sure a community college local to you has classes as well. We regularly have high school aged students taking classes on campus.

    In SF, the Brava Theater on 24th St. has a teen theater tech program called San Francisco Running Crew. The teens even get a stipend.

    Hello, Contra Costa Civic Theatre -- -- is a great community theatre located in South El Cerrito (really not far from Berkeley). They welcome and encourage volunteers in all areas of the theatre. In addition to regular work parties, there are opportunities to work backstage. It is a warm community with a mix of professional, semi-professional, and new-to-theatre folks. I'm sure your responsible teen would be welcomed. Please reach out to Georgina Edwards, Managing Director at georgina [at] or give the theatre a call at 510-524-9012.

    Youth Musical Theater Company (known as YMTC) is great! My son has done the apprentice program a few times and has had a very positive experience. Your teen will get to work in a professional setting yet be supported as student. The shows are wonderful and the amount of talent there is amazing. My son also enjoys the peer group there as do I. They seem to attract great kids. There are applications open now for shows coming up this spring and summer.

  • Hi there,

    My son has developed a very strong interest in acting.  Not so much the musical/singing/dancing part, but if that is all we can find, we will look into that.  He has no prior experience.   I see some old recommendations from 2006-2011, but several of them are no longer in existence.   We are located in Oakland, but willing to go to many bay area locations.


    Oakland Mom

    CCCT (Contra Costa Civic Theatre) in El Cerrito has a great program, including, last time I checked, improv on the weekends, and a summer drama camp. My daughter attended several times and loved it. I think it also helped her get comfortable with public speaking.

    ACT in San Francisco (near BART) and Berkeley Rep in downtown Berkeley both offer acting classes, not just musical theater classes.  I think both are good.  I’ve found that studying acting separately, without the singing and dancing, has helped my daughter in the long run.  A lot of kids only do performance-based musical theater classes and the acting often gets short shrift, because they are racing to pull the songs and choreography together.  Consequently, some of kids don’t learn much about acting, so having done so can be an advantage.   Plus, it’s fun, and there are never enough boys.  

    My daughter has been very pleased with Berkeley Playhouse and with ACT San Francisco's Teen Conservatory. She's experienced good camaraderie and training in both. Both have classes as well as performance opportunities. We like how Berkeley Playhouse double-casts their productions so that more kids get experience with leading roles as well as ensemble work. ACT has a more diverse group of participants, but not by much. ACT also has more intellectually interesting material, if your son is interested in non-musical theater. Both are easy to reach via public transit. I've heard good things about (but don't have first-hand experience with) Youth Musical Theater Company in Berkeley, by Aquatic Park. It is for youth from 7th grade through university who are serious about theater. I recommend your son attend performances produced the various organizations, to give him an idea of the caliber and material of the productions as well as caliber of fellow actors. That's what solidified my daughter's choices. Lastly, Berkeley Rep has youth education programs. My daughter hasn't taken classes there since 1st grade, but the teen options look great for youth in high school. Have fun on this journey!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions & Advice

Drama Opportunities for 15 year old, not musical theater?

Jan 2009

My 15 year old daughter really enjoys acting but isn't really into musical theater. There seem to be plenty of musical theater companies for young people, but I'm having trouble finding a youth drama company or other organization where she could act in a regular theater production. Is anyone aware of a place where someone who loves acting but not singing can perform? Prefer the Oakland/Berkeley area, but SF is OK too. Thanks! Ready to Act

Our daughter had a good experience, from 6th grade to 11th grade, a few years ago, attending after-school acting classes at ACT in San Francisco. Their classes meet in an ACT building less than 2 blocks from the Powell St. BART station. Marty

Cal Shakes has a great year round program and summer classes for youth. My nine year old daughter has taken several classes and this summer she keeps reminding me that she wants to do the five week course. They have great teachers and the kids love it. Stage mom

Both my children (now aged 12 and 17) have had great experiences participating in Young Actors Workshop . It is run by a wonderful drama teacher, Sooz Worthing. It is open to kids in grades 6 through 12. During the school year there are Fall and Spring sessions that meet Monday and Wednesday from 4-7pm and some Saturdays, as well as a 5 week summer session. It's also a warm and supportive social environment. It is located at the Park Day School Community Campus, on Ridgeway near Piedmont Ave. in Oakland. Drama Mama

My name is Jack Baur and I am a new Teen Librarian with the Berkeley Public Library. In about 2 weeks I am going to be starting a Teen PlayReaders program at the library, Tuesday afternoons from 4:00-5:30. The idea behind PlayReaders is to explore theater through - you guessed it! - reading plays, switching off parts frequently and keeping things fast and fun. It should be a great opportunity for your daughter to try out a bunch of different roles and meet local kids who are in the local theater scene and who might know more about what's going on.

PlayReaders will also hopefully perform annual or biannual scene showcases so that teens can show off their acting chops to the broader community. This is more of a long-term goal; I have to get the group running first, but if there is interest from them it's a direction that I would like to head.

The first meeting of PlayReaders *hopefully* will be in the Community Room on the third floor of the Central Library at Shattuck and Kitteridge on February 2nd. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. My e-mail address is jbaur [at], and my office phone number is 510-981-6287.

Jack Baur Teen Services Librarian - South and Claremont Branches Berkeley Public Library

Drama Classes for 13 year old

Jan 2009

My 13 year old daughter has minimal drama experience but is now interested in exploring that venue. My concern is that most drama classes and camps will primarily focus on the ''stars'', and that I'll be paying the same money but my daughter will be relagated to the backround roles with less attention to her development. Does anyone have any ideas for where my daughter might best expand her drama interest? I am willing to travel anywhere in the east bay, but we live in Lamorinda. Thanks!!

It's true that for most programs, a kid often has to start with supporting roles at first, however my son has been doing drama camps and programs during summers and schoolyear for the last 5 years - he's 14 now, and has always had a total blast and learned a lot, sometimes in the chorus or in small roles, sometimes getting bigger ones. And even those in the chorus are usually on stage quite a lot. I HIGHLY recommend both the programs he's been involved in (both in Berkeley: Stage Door - no audition necessary ( and YMTC - by audition ( laurie

Take a look at the Contra Costa Civic Theater (CCCT). It's got a great summer program where the kids do scenes, skits and theater games so there really aren't any so- called ''stars.'' All different levels of talent... it is very well run and my 13 year old daughter loves it. You are probably looking at ''A'' camp because of her age. Anon

Afterschool theater programs for 13-year-old?

September 2006

I'm looking for an afterschool theater program for a 13 year old girl. She had been in ''Kids take the Stage'' in Alameda but it has canceled its fall program. Any other ideas for musical theater opportunities for a 13 year old? Thanks Mary

I just enrolled my son in Lafayette's Town Hall Theatre Encore program, which is for kids 11 to 14 years old. They are doing the Music Man this session. Classes start this week (Sept. 14), so I don't know if you'll get this information in time to sign up. I spoke with people active in drama in the lamorinda/walnut creek area and they spoke highly of the director for this session, Joel Roster. They will probably have a spring program if you can't getin for this session. Here is a link to the theater's education programs: I can't personally recommend this program yet, as my son hasn't started rehearsals. It should be worth checking out, though. I like the idea that it is just for middle- school and freshman kids. anon

My daughter took a Stanislavsky Method Acting class at On Camera Acting. They are great with kids and she couldn't stop talking about how much fun she had. The website is Sarah

I don't know of any regular after-school programs, except through AEF (Alameda Education Foundation). To try out for a show, check out Alameda Children's Musical Theater. My daughter did their summer camp and has been singing and dancing non-stop since then. During the year they have shows in the Fall (currently ''The Truth About Cinderella''), Winter (around January/Feb, I think) and Spring (March-April). In the summer they have a variety of camps. Their website is a little out of date, but you can find their contact info: --another mom of performer

Berkeley Rep. and California Shakespeare Theater both offer after-school youth classes R.K.

Berkeley Rep School of Theatre offers classes for youth, teens, families, and adults! Classes for teens include an Audition Lab, Hip Hop Theatre, Stage Combat: Rapier & Dagger, a Teen Performance Lab of Macbeth, and a Master Acting Intensive specifically for teens.

Kids 'N Dance 'N Theater Arts has musical theater. They have 2 age groups 6-10 and 9-14. They have 3 locations: 3841 Macarthur Blvd. in Oakland 531-4400, 3369 Mt. Diablo Blvd. in Lafayette 925-284-7388, and 24 Orinda Way in Orinda at the Rec Center. They do full performances on stage and provide all of the costumes, props and scenery. They are doing Oklahoma and Beauty and the Beast right now and will start a new session in January. They also offer a Kids on Camera class at the Orinda Rec. Center. Their website is anon

Movie roles for 13-year-old?

Aug 2006

My daughter loves to act and would really like to get any kind of part in a film. I'm willing to support her efforts to find something in the Bay Area, but I really have no idea how to proceed and avoid scams. She found a website called, which lists roles--does anyone know anything about it, or have other tips for my aspiring actress? Any information would be greatly appreciated. Not a stage mom

I know a lot about this as I am a member of SAG. Go to and join. There is a subscription fee but it's worth it. Indie film directors list their casting notices there. The films range from student films to professional productions. The student films are great experience and will help your daughter to build her resume. Your daughter should do well since teens are in high demand! She can also get a talent agent who will send her out for commercial auditions. The casting connection website has info on getting an agent. katherine

To the teen looking for movie roles First thing you you should do is get a work permit from the Deapartment of Labor (DLSE) in Oakland or SF. That way you will be legal to work. You need to get an application and have it signed by the principal of your school. Then you take that down to the labor office, and they will issue a permit. It takes them a few weeks to get it to you. Good luck, jamie

Hi, My daughter is a student of Tami Erin of the On Camera Acting Film & TV Academy. Tami introduced her to the casting director of a film called ''Ed Meets His Maker'' that shot in the Santa Rosa area last April. She landed a small role as did other young actors Ms. Erin coaches. I recommend getting in touch with her organization and they can guide you from there. I know on her website it says she's been a guest expert on KRON 4 and I think Radio Disney about ''acting in films and TV for kkds''. The phone is (800) 496-0125 and web Sarah

May 2006

Beginning acting class for shy 16-year-old

My daughter is looking for a class that will help her to come out of her shell. It could be in the form of acting or poetry (possibly Slam Poetry). Though she is new at this and doesn't want to be the only one who is extremely nervous putting herself out there. anon

My daughter is very shy, but opened up when she started taking part in Kids Take The Stage performances. This summer they are doing an intensive workshop for one month followed by a performance. It's a bit pricey but all the parents who's kids have taken part in previous performances give rave reviews of the teaching. Go to their website for more info.
not a stage mom