The M.F.A. acting program balances the development of the actor’s unique skills with the acquisition of technique. The program seeks to train actors of integrity, capable of artistic excellence in a variety of venues. The acting studios form the program’s spine. First-year studio focuses on the actor’s self, identifying habitual performance behaviors and reshaping the instrument to respond more organically and efficiently to psychophysical stimuli. Second-year studio emphasizes the development of classical technique through immersion in Shakespeare and other classical authors. The third year addresses the remaining and unique needs of each class and augments students’ skills with classes in professional development. Comprehensive training in movement, voice, speech and textual analysis augments and enriches every term of the studio process.
Third-year students participate in showcase in New York. Additional professional outreach is provided by annual professional auditions, in which casting directors, agents and artistic directors from regional and summer theatres audition students in the graduate program. Internships, both formal and informal, with professional theatres in Dallas provide students with significant opportunities for professional growth.
The M.F.A. stage design program is committed to the philosophy of supporting the development of artists who will passionately embrace the interpretation of words into visual imagery. The program emphasizes the process of artistic collaboration, especially with directors; the pursuit of artistic skills, including drawing, painting and drafting, necessary for communication; the development of critical thought and the ability to articulate ideas; and the acquisition of professional standards that prepare the student for a meaningful and productive life in the theatre.
Training in design is based on a balance of classroom work and fully realized productions. The first year of study includes extensive classroom projects and the development of foundational artistic and collaborative skills, culminating in the design of the playwrights’ New Visions, New Voices festival. All students acquire comprehensive skills in scenery, costume and lighting design. The second year will focus on the student as a theatre designer, drawing upon prestigious programs of excellence in the Meadows School of the Arts and including designing in the Theatre Division season. During the third and master year, the student prepares for the professional world with opportunities to exercise collaborative, artistic and management skills not only in the Theatre Division, but also at professional venues that include, but are not limited to, the Dallas Theater Center and the Shakespeare Festival of Dallas.
The Theatre Division normally expects graduate students to be in residence for six terms during the regular academic year. Since the program of study includes both classroom and production activities, graduate students must obtain permission through the division chair before engaging in any other study, production work or outside employment. The M.F.A. degree requires a minimum of 66 credit hours.
At the end of each term, the faculty of the division evaluates the development of each graduate student. All aspects of the student’s work come under scrutiny. The heads of the respective programs oversee and coordinate the review process, collating faculty evaluations into a review document.
The review process culminates in an assessment of the student’s overall progress toward degree completion. Students who receive unsatisfactory reviews will be placed on probation. Failure to address the concerns raised in the review within the following term will result in the probationary student’s dismissal from the program.
At the end of the first year, a faculty evaluation of the progress and potentiality of each student determines whether that student should continue into the second year.
Conferral of Degree
The faculty reserves the privilege of recommending candidates for the M.F.A. degree only when it has been satisfied that students have demonstrated unquestionable professional competencies in the area of study.