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 apply their ideas through constant collaboration with other artists. 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.
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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 a directing assignment in The Theatre School Studio Series.
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 a fully-executed Second Year Production in the Healy Theatre, our 100-seat flexible stage, and two full-length productions in our Studio Series.
The primary focus of the third year is the thesis project produced on the Fullerton Stage, our 250-seat thrust theatre. Students also begin their transition into the professional theatre community with an internship. Students can enhance their portfolio through elective course work and will direct one more full-length production in The Theatre School Studio Series.
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.