Learn Acting 
From World-Class Instructors

Launch your acting career and hone your craft with live classes led by a master instructor, at a fraction of the price.

Lan: English


4 Weeks

Mel Shapiro | Instructor

Build Your Acting Skills

If you’ve ever dreamed of studying drama with a master, our virtual Characterization and Performance class offers the perfect opportunity—no matter where you live or whether you’ve had any formal training. 

This six-week course will teach you the basics of character, monologues and scene work, and you’ll finish with a one-person show or fully developed character as part of your final project.

In Just 6 Weeks, You’ll Learn to:

Listen, adapt and express in a scene


Connect with a scene partner

Analyze a script

Interact with space, sets and props

Convey emotional and spatial relationships

Tell your story

Conceptualize a character’s backstory

Develop a production

Enrollment Options


A Participant is able to work and interact with peers while receiving feedback from the instructor.



An Auditor is able to observe and learn without needing to be active in front of other students.


Course Schedule

Meet Your Instructor

Mel Shapiro, professor emeritus at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television. He was also one of the founding members of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. During his decade-spanning career, Mel has earned a number of awards including a Tony Award and New York Drama Critics Award; served as the head of the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama; taught and directed at the Queensland University of Technology's Theatre School in Brisbane, Australia, and the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney, Australia; and served on the board of the Fund for New American Plays at the Kennedy Center and Theatre of Latin America. He is the author of An Actor Performs.


Master Teacher | Professor Emeritus, UCLA TFT 

A Few Names Mel Has Worked With


Singer, Dancer, Actor, and Comedian.




Actor, Singer, and Style Icon.


What is Emerge

EMERGE is a place where people come to broaden their knowledge and experience. We're committed not only in the classroom but also to building communities around our values of creativity and desire for growth through collaboration.

At EMERGE, we believe that the best learning happens when students and teachers collaborate together. That's why our values of creativity, innovation are at their core: to design content across disciplines so you can build your future!

Our Core Values

EMERGE believes that the core values of Trust, Accessibility, Creativity, and Service are essential to our mission in education, with those principles in mind we have built our courses. We believe students should never be priced out of learning. This is what makes us so committed at EMERGE - giving access to each student to find their highest potential. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Characterization &
Performance Projects

Participants and Auditors will get a first hand look at what it takes to truly Build a Character.



©2022 EMERGE GLOBAL. All Rights Reserved.

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Is the class live? What are livestream classes like?

All of our classes are taught online and include weekly live sessions with instructors and students hosted on the ZOOM platform. The live online experience is similar in many ways to a traditional classroom experience.

Participating students can interact with their instructors, ask questions, and connect with fellow students (all from the comfort of home). Course materials, assignments, and class recordings are all available online.

Who will I be working with?

Your primary instructor for Characterization and Performance is Mel Shapiro, professor emeritus at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television.

How many classes does it take to complete the course?

The Characterization and Performance course spans six weeks.

Can I take more than one course at a time?

Absolutely. We encourage students to take the courses they are the most excited about. Some courses are standalone offerings and some courses are a part of a larger program. This particular course is a standalone offering, but can be combined with others. See the Programs page for more.

How often does the class meet per week?

The Characterization and Performance class will meet once per week with the instructor. The course assignments are self-paced outside of the class session. Each course is two hours in length unless specified otherwise. The date and time for each course are specified on the course page and the confirmation email sent to your inbox.

Am I Required to Attend Live Classes?

Participants in our programs should plan to attend livestream classes. However, if you cannot attend, students should make arrangements with their instructor prior to the start of class.

Many of our courses also allow students to enroll as auditors. Auditors can observe live classes and/or re-watch class recordings. If you cannot make all of the course’s live classes, auditing is a great option.

Week - 1Module 1Improvisation

In this module, you will develop your ability to perform without a script by tuning your capacity to listen and respond and sharpening your imagination. Hone your ability to think on your feet as a performer and learn specific techniques for improvisation for film and video productions.

Week - 2Module 2Monologues

This module explores the art of delivering monologues in character, from modern and classical authors. We will focus on material from pieces that challenge students and push their abilities.

Week - 3Module 3Scenes

During this module, students work with scene partners to explore relationships and emotion and collaborate to develop a scene. Explore relationships, dynamics, conflict, and resolution in both drama and comedy, with a focus on pieces that challenge you.

Week - 4Module 4The Auto-Drama

This module will delve into the art of the auto-drama. Develop a presentation of the high points of your life, through metaphorical expression. We will also delve into direction and insights from the instructor’s book, An Actor Performs.

Week - 5

Module 5The Auto-Drama of the Character

We will take the learnings from the last module and apply it to a character. Develop the auto-drama of the character from your monologue or a scene you are working on.

Week - 6

Module 6One-Person Show/The Activist Project

Learn how to develop a one-person show from your auto-drama. Or create a character, such as an activist or a person who, though ordinary, is doing something extraordinary, in The Activist Project.

This program features six modules, including live classes:


What Our Students Say

  • "His directing and his plays always rested on a distinct underpinning of human behavior."


    Co-Founder of Tisch NYU

  • "Mel is by far the best teacher I've ever had. Here is a master of the craft of Acting and Directing. If you need a challenge, this is the guy for you!"

    Jeremiah O'Brian

    Instructor of Theater Practice, USC

  • "Working one-on-one with Mel is like sitting at a roundtable of experts."

    David Ball

    Author, Backwards and Forwards

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