New Haven, Conn.—Four months after performing in his first spring musical, Peter Xiao stole the show this summer when he completed an intensive, five-week program at the Yale Conservatory for Actors last week.
A rising senior at Catholic Memorial School, Peter performed alongside aspiring high school, college, and post-graduate actors from across the country on Yale’s New Haven campus—not too shabby for someone who began their acting career in March.
“It was an amazing experience,” said Peter, who resides in Dedham with a host family through the Campus Bridge International program.
“I think the program really improved my communications skills. I think that I speak more fluently and can sound ideas more coherently than ever before.”
Peter, who arrived at CM three years ago from Beijing, China, decided to try acting after enjoying success in a variety of fine arts programs at CM. He had finished in second place at the school’s Public Speaking Contest, earned first place in the School Art Show, and competed on the CM speech and debate team.
So, in the spring of his junior year, he broadened his horizons when he stepped on stage to perform in the CM spring musical Oliver!, his first appearance in any sort of theater production. Despite performing in a supporting role, he credited CM’s theater program for encouraging him to take his talents to the next level and apply to the Yale program.
“I really enjoyed the [theater] environment at CM, so I decided to further my acting skills and saw Yale as the best place to do so,” said Peter, a member of the National Honor Society.
“I heard that Yale had a great graduate school of drama. So, I saw it as a great opportunity to learn more about a form of art that I was so passionate about.”
Located on Yale’s New Haven campus, the conservatory boasts a 1:4 faculty-to-student ratio, offering each student, “the personal attention needed for individualistic artistic growth” according to Yale’s website.
The website says that students complete sections on text analysis, acting technique, voice and speech, games, movement, and scene study, all of which serve as fundamental elements of acting. Throughout the five weeks, students spend 40 hours each week in class and dedicate another 10-15 hours to rehearsals and homework.
Reflecting on the application process, Peter described it as “competitive and rigorous.” According to Yale’s website, each applicant must submit a resume of relevant experience and a letter of recommendation from a theater professional or teacher.
But, thanks to the faculty at CM, Peter received the support needed to see past the competition and submit his application.
“This was a program that I felt really passionate about and it felt great knowing that so many people supported my decision to apply,” said Peter.
“Now, I’m excited to return to CM and apply the skills that I’ve learned to my future acting opportunities.”