The Theatre School’s Master of Fine Art (MFA) degree in directing is a three-year program that allows directors to develop and explore their artistic vision and then apply their ideas through constant collaboration with other artists – actors, designers, dramaturgs. Coursework is focused on preparation – research, theory and analysis – as well as practical application through scene study, workshops, and quarterly full-length directing assignments.
Students learn from a distinguished faculty of working professionals who possess a wide variety of backgrounds and expertise and who work with some of the most prolific and exciting theatre companies in Chicago.
Equally important to the training students receive in the classroom is the opportunity they have to synthesize that learning in the production process. Directing students complete one directing assistantship and direct a short play production in their first year, then direct up to five full-length productions in the second and third years of the program. Directors also complete a professional internship in the final year, chosen in collaboration with the directing faculty.
The focus of the first year is preparation and research. Directing students complete coursework in play analysis, dramatic theory, historical perspective and organizing ideas in order to collaborate with designers and actors. They then move to transform analysis into action with staging and scene study. Students also take a progression of improvisational acting and scene study in order to become familiar with the acting approach and vocabulary of The Theatre School. Production work will include one assistant directing assignment with a faculty or guest artist in our public production season and the MFA Directing Short Play production.
The second year is a laboratory approach to the rehearsal and collaboration process. We create a dialogue between the nuts-and-bolts of craft and out-of-the-box theatrical imagination. Students also engage in a collaborative investigation of the production process with design and technical students. They continue to learn the actor’s process, moving into Shakespeare and heightened text. Production work will include directing three full-length productions in our Studio Series.
The primary focus of the third year is the thesis project produced in our New Directors Series. Students also begin the transition into the professional theatre community with an internship. Students can enhance their portfolios through elective course work and will direct one more full-length production in the Studio Series.
New Directors Series
The New Directors Series is a full-scale production in the third year of the directing program and is a partial fulfillment of the directing thesis requirement. The Theatre School invites members of the Chicago theatre community to attend the New Directors Series as a way to showcase the work of the graduating directing students.
Continuation in the Directing Program from year to year is by invitation of the directing faculty. In addition to meeting the academic standards of the curriculum, professional potential, progress in the program, discipline, and collaboration are the criteria utilized in making decisions about advancement into subsequent years. In the first year, the quality of the spring quarter MFA Directing Short Play assignment is added to the criteria of the evaluation.
Three Year Curriculum
How To Apply