The Philadelphia Theatre Arts Institute

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Lee Edward Colston II, Founder.
Lee Edward Colston II is a prison guard turned actor, playwright, director, acting teacher, and author. After leaving the Dept. of Corrections he trained classically as an actor at with a BFA from the Brind School of Theatre at the University of the Arts and is currently pursuing his MFA in Acting at the world famous conservatory, The Juilliard School as a member of Group 45.


Lee has over 25 productions to his credit including Avenue X (7 Barrymore nominations), Cradle Will Rock (Irene Ryan nomination), Romeo & Juliet, SANKOFA,  Once On This Island, and Katori Hall's Hoodoo Love


Most recently he starred as Harpo in the Broadway National Tour of Alice Walker's classic 'The Color Purple' and as Othello for the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival. 


In 2012, Lee auditioned for and was accepted into some of the top Graduate Acting programs in the world including NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, American Repertory Theater at Harvard University, and the world famous conservatory, The Juilliard School.


As a playwright, his play 'Solitary' was a 2009 winner of the Philadelphia Theatre Workshop PlayShop festival. His newest play 'Roost' won the 2010 Life Media Award for BEST NEW PLAY in the Philadelphia Urban Theatre FestivalIn 2012, Roost was later revived for further development by Ritual Theater Company for a reading starring veteren actor Tony Todd (Candyman, Final Destination, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) and Cheryl Freeman (Disney's Hurcules, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Dead Presidents) at the Ars Nova Theater  &  PS 122 in New York City. 

His book of poetry Phenomenal Brotha: Blood, Sweat, & Ink was released in 2005. 


He is also a second generation Meisner trained actor and is a founding teacher of The Philadelphia Meisner Technique Intensive where he teaches the acting technique. He has taught over 150 actors in the Philly & New York region.

About The Philadelphia Theatre Arts Institute

"My demand of you is for absolute truth no matter what the consequences. You must be fearless." -Ernest Losso, Acting Teacher/Director.


The Philadelphia Theater Arts Institute is a resource for actors, writers, & directors and strives to provide quality and affordable training in the Philadelphia region.

Rooted in the teachings of Sandford Meisner, the Philadelphia Theater Arts Institute brings the quality of New York Style actor training to Philadelphia. It serves as a training ground and a launch pad for both experienced & amateur actors, writers, & directors to hone their respective crafts in a challenging and collaborative environment. 

Whether or not you've been acting for 20 years or have never worked before, this class will challenge you and demand "absolute truth" in your work, "no matter what the consequences" and take the quality of your performance to the next level.



















T E S T I M O N I A L S   F R O M   F O R M E R   S T U D E N T S:



"This is more than an acting class where you brush up on technique and play theater games all day. This is a high octane, high intensity, kick your ass/career into gear ACTOR'S BOOTCAMP." 

 -Keith Aaron Wallace, MFA Actor at University of California, San Diego


"I went into PMTI looking to add to my skills as a director and left with an artistic family-- collaborators that changed me both as a person and an artist. Lee is a tough and generous teacher who is passionate about the work and building artists! Whatever your creative goals are he'll challenge you to not only meet them but exceed them! If you're considering taking this class-- DO IT!"


 -Malika Oyetimein, Director, Philadelphia Premiere of 'Hoodoo Love' by Katori Hall, Member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, MFA Director at The University of Washington


"With Lee’s help, I have taken charge of my life, finding what’s important to me and what really matters, as well as finding my voice!"

Jon Owens, MFA Actor at the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University


"Lee takes the time to cultivate a safe environment that encourages risk taking. It's a class that's full of hard work and Lee does not handle you with kid gloves. If you want to push yourself to the next level then take this class!"

-David Samuel, Allen Lee Hughes Fellow in Artistic Development at Arena Stage, Washington D.C./MFA Actor  at Brown University


"Lee is not the type of coach who will let you "practice."... What you will instead experience is a coach who will immediately recognize key aspects of your inner personhood, and challenge you to grow... ...Lee stares at you... and says: "Do X, right now." Your initial reaction is: "but why?" Then, you do X,  placing trust in uncertainty, and you experience a profound moment of growth as both a person and character. That... is a notch above "practice."

-Justin Walker White, MFA Actor at NYU, New York.


“The Meisner Intensive was an irreplaceable experience for me.” 

–Tiffany Webb, Actress, New York.


"He creates an environment where exploration is safe. There's no fear of making "wrong" choices: there's only working truthfully, learning in the process and discovering what's best for the work. Without Lee's impact on my craft, I don't think I'd be pursuing graduate school training as the next step in my development as an actor, nor would I have branched out to create my own production company. Taking this class is the best decision you will ever make!" 

 -Brennie Tellu, Actress / Producer/ MFA Actor at The Actor's Studio at PACE University.



“The personal and in-class training I received with Lee began me on the path to artistry… If you are ready and willing to devote and push yourself to the next level, I recommend him whole-heartedly.” 

–Gerard Joseph, MFA Actor at The University of California, San Diego.


"PMTI was my "ah-ha!" moment as an actor... ...I don't think I've ever been challenged as an actor before to open my ears, my mind, my body, and my heart as a scene partner in such an honest and truthful way. " 

-Candace Thomas, MFA Actress at the University of South Carolina.


“Taking Lee Colston's Meisner Technique class changed my life! It helped me to approach cold readings with more confidence and now just about every audition I go on I get a call back or I get the part… He is a great teacher and the best thing about him is that he will not give up on you, he will not feed you B.S. and most importantly, he will work you until your best comes out. Thanks Lee! You have done wonders for my career!” 

–Shalonda Johnson, Actress, New York.


“Taking the Meisner intensive class with Lee literally changed my life! Not only as an actor, but in my everyday life. It helped me find myself... I've taken other classes and none could compare to what I've learned working with Lee!” 

-Ty Robinson, Actor, Guest Star on HBO's ‘The Wire'.​



“Participating in Lee Colston's Meisner Intensive was probably one of the best decisions I've made in my life…. Quite honestly, I'm not sure of the pricing now, but whatever the cost I'm sure it’s a bargain for what you'll receive from him & his class is priceless…"


-Lee Makai, Actress/Singer, Philadelphia.



“I have to say that taking Lee’s class was a life-changing experience, literally!!! Not only do I feel stronger and more confident as an actress, but also in my life as a whole.... I’ve learned so much about myself in this class that it wasn’t until afterwards that I felt I could finally make the move to LA I had been putting off for years out of fear of failure or caring about what others would think. It was thanks to the technique. Lee helped me to “get out of my own way”… He genuinely wants each and every one of us to succeed… he wants us all to win and with this class, you’ll get all the tools you need to take that victory lap over and over! Thanks Lee!” 

–Nichelle Patrice, Actress, Los Angeles



"Its bigger than your typical acting class… If you want a normal acting class and not be challenged as an artist to dig deep, you might want to skip this class. But, if you know that a challenge is what your in need of for your career and your artistry, then I strongly suggest you attend and give it everything you got, because Lee does not hold back at all!” 

-Chris Lyle, Actor/Model, New York



“Taking the intensive expanded my knowledge, increased my awareness, and along with learning the Meisner technique, the experience challenged me not only as an actor but as a person. It was an experience of giving and taking and put me in a great position for the next step in my training, career and life. Lee is a very giving teacher that pushes you to the edge…”


–Mle Chester, Actress, New York


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