Founded in 2009 by Steppenwolf Co-Artistic Director, Audrey Francis, and Laura Hooper, Black Box Acting began as a boutique studio with just twelve students and two classes that rapidly grew to become one of Chicago’s most sought after training grounds for new and working actors.

The approach was simple: develop a streamlined curriculum based on human behavior and create a home where actors can continually challenge their creative limits. From this fierce commitment to training actors to Work Hard and Be Fearless, The Black Box Method was born. 

This comprehensive and rigorous curriculum, based in Meisner Technique and Viewpoints, trains actors to:

  • Be present and feel alive onstage
  • Own that they are enough
  • Live fully under imaginary circumstances
  • Own text with integrity
  • Follow physical impulses
  • Work from an honest and brave place…consistently

This curriculum is at the core of each of our training programs:

  • The ACADEMY: Five-month intensive conservatory training.
  • The STUDIO: Year-round, part-time acting classes, and professional development workshops.
  • Young Adult: Year-round acting training for ages 10-18.
  • Melanin & Meisner: An introduction to The Black Box Method for artists of color.
  • National Intensives: Bootcamp-style Black Box training in cities across the country.

Audrey and Laura always envisioned Black Box to be by and for the next generation of artistic revolutionaries. In late 2018, as Black Box was about to embark on its second decade, longtime students and teachers, Andrew Cutler, Amanda Fink, and Eric Gerard assumed ownership of the school.

The new leadership team is continuing to offer the intensive, process-based training through The Black Box Method that is the heartbeat of Black Box, with an increased commitment to accessibility, professional development, and immediate applicability.