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In the Chair Podcast: The NYU Tisch Experience (Primary Training)

Welcome back to In the Chair!

This week on In the Chair, Will and Samantha are joined by NYU Tisch at Strasberg second year students, Alyssa Virji and Dillon Odle. NYU Tisch and The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute have been partnered for over 40 years – allowing students to earn their BFA in Drama and take academic courses from New York University, while receiving their actor training from LSTFI. Just a year into their studies, today’s guests tell all about the ups and downs of their NYU experience. This two-part series gives a behind-the-scenes look at one of the nation’s top drama programs. Tune in on all your favorite podcast platforms:

The NYU Tisch Application Process

“I was going on College Confidential forums and seeing as much as I could find out about the auditions. It was this super elusive, mysterious thing.”

Dillon Odle

Being one of the top – not to mention largest – drama programs in the nation, NYU has garnered quite the reputation. According to Dillon and Alyssa, the audition is far less intimidating than they anticipated. Dillon explains that other schools were intimidating and “had this sense of ‘You’re really lucky to be auditioning for us right now’. At NYU, he had the opposite experience, finding the audition proctors to promote a friendly and non-competitive environment – despite the selective nature of the program. “There are several people from my audition that I remember and am friends with now here,” Dylan says.

NYU takes great measures to make the application process as smooth and welcoming as possible. International students are permitted to audition via Skype or in alternate locations – like Alyssa, who auditioned in London. Administrators are readily available to help you with any issues you may encounter – like Dillon, who called the Dean of Admissions to reopen his application after he had denied his acceptance months before. On the auditions in particular, Alyssa and Sam both remark on the effort NYU puts into connecting with its potential students. Alyssa remembers, “They said ‘You’re only going to be in for 15 minutes,’ but I talked to my auditioner for over an hour.” She remembers her proctor to this day and often thinks, “Thank you for changing my life.”

Starting out at Strasberg

Ours hosts and guests agree – like any new journey, the training at LSTFI comes with a learning curve.

“The first two weeks will be weird. Everyone lies that they feel something in sensory. Everyone’s like, ‘I felt so at one with my morning beverage.’ Don’t worry if you don’t. It took me 3-4 weeks and no one tells you that. So just get through the first three weeks, and then it’s amazing.”

Alyssa Virji

For those unfamiliar with The Method, Will poses the question: What exactly is sensory?

“Sensory is sense memory. You recall past experiences, objects, people that you have come in contact with throughout your lifetime and you use the actual five senses to re-experience it. It’s not about imagining something that didn’t happen, it’s about using your real life experiences and the tangible sensations that come along with it – whether it’s sight, sound, touch, smell, taste – to recreate it. There’s truth in touching something and seeing something, instead of just seeing it through your mind’s eye. It’s a very different thing to say ‘I’m thinking about something,’ but how does the grain of the wood of the coffee table in my childhood home feel? That’s a very different thing, and when you learn to start re-experiencing instead of just thinking about something and personalizing something, I think your work becomes a lot deeper.”

Will Brockman

The training that actors receive at LSTFI requires a level of vulnerability and willingness to dive deep into Lee’s work. Luckily, students at both NYU and The Institute are surrounded by a support system of peers and teachers. Arming students with this support and the foundations of Lee Strasberg’s Method Acting, LSTFI seeks to provide students with actor training found nowhere else in the world.


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