Links
Academics

Graduate Specializations

 

Directing

The Directing Program provides an ongoing forum for faculty and peer response to production and studio work as well as a focus on directorial tools such as action and storytelling, analysis and conceptualization, organization and preparation, and working with collaborators. In addition to directing one project each semester they are enrolled, students are exposed to an array of experiences that can help them to cultivate the sensibilities, strategies and creative responsiveness necessary for a sustained professional life as a theater practitioner.

Download the benchmarks for the Directing MFA program (PDF).

Download a sample plan of study for the Directing MFA program (PDF).

Email professor Gil McCauley.

Email professor Gina Kaufmann or visit her website.


Dramaturgy

The Dramaturgy Program is rooted in production work and in learning how to work collaboratively as part of a creative team. Dramaturgy students work on at least one production each year, receiving one-on-one faculty mentoring through each of these production assignments. In addition to hands-on production experience, students learn a variety of approaches to their craft in the weekly Dramaturgy Workshop, where other important dramaturgical skills—including translation, adaptation, playwriting, and critical writing—are nurtured. Rigorous academic work, coupled with this intensive dramaturgical training, prepares students for the creative and analytical challenges they will face working as leaders in the professional theater, developing and curating the theater of the future.

The Dramaturgy Program provides flexibility for students to draw upon the larger resources of the Five Colleges to take classes in areas of particular interest and passion. A major component is an original thesis project, undertaken in the student’s third year.

Benchmarks for the Dramaturgy MFA program (PDF) »

Sample plan of study for the Dramaturgy MFA program (PDF) »

Email professor Harley Erdman.

Email professor Chris Baker.

Email professor Megan Lewis.

Email professor Priscilla Page.


Costume Design

The Costume Program provides a rigorous laboratory in which students develop sophisticated skills in research; conceptualization; oral, written and visual communication; design, rendering and drawing; management; and pertinent technical areas. Much of this training is acquired through assignments directly linked to Department of Theater productions. Working on these productions, students not only gain design experience but also receive strong technical grounding in construction and pattern making through work in the costume shop. Practical work is augmented with paper projects to develop a well-rounded, professional portfolio. As students progress through the program, all projects are individually mentored to best enhance the student's training and the development of skills suited for working in the professional theater.

Benchmarks for the Costume MFA program (PDF) »

Email professor Yao Chen.

Email costume shop manager Kristin Jensen.


Lighting Design

The Lighting Program is fueled by passion — passion for the ability of light to transform, and for the potential of the theatrical event. Technical and creative training in class is augmented by yearly production assignments. Designing and assisting on realized productions affords our students the opportunity to articulate their artistic voices and to learn to work effectively as part of a collaborative team. Students are mentored individually to uncover their own voices in a supportive yet challenging environment, both in the classroom and in the theater. This close mentoring relationship is an integral part of our lighting program — each graduate class is kept small to allow for an honest and challenging one-on-one relationship between professor and student. At the same time, the graduate student will have the opportunity to practice teaching both inexperienced and experienced undergraduates, and will be mentored in developing his or her own educational skills as part of the program. These close relationships often lead to further academic and professional opportunities after graduation. When they leave the department, students will enter into a valuable network of UMass graduates in the professional field. Graduating students will be equipped with artistic, technical and professional skills that render them prepared for the rigors of working in the professional theater as well as for teaching.

Benchmarks for the Lighting MFA program [PDF] »

Sample plan of study [PDF] »

Email professor Penny Remsen.

Email department master electrician Michael Dubin.


Scenic Design and Technology

Click to view a photostream of UMass Theater scenic design and technology work.

A well-conceived and executed design rewards the audience and performer with a physical environment which focuses and heightens the experience of the event they are sharing. The design of the space supports and makes manifest a vision which is the synergy of the minds and passions of every member of the creative team. This is why we emphasize a collaborative approach to storytelling in our curriculum. Working on departmental productions and on theoretical class projects builds up mastery of the spatial design and implementation through:

    • Collaborating with a diverse group of theater makers: directors, performers, designers, production staff, audience
    • Exploring successful performance spaces
    • Understanding of genre as a historical entity and as a tool of design
    • Learning to accommodate both audience and performer
    • Exploring dynamic uses of scenic space
    • Honing dramaturgical and visual research skills
    • Learning the history of architecture and decorative arts
    • Creatively applying research to support and amplify the overall vision of the performance/event
    • Exploring the different design needs of theater, opera, dance, television, and film
    • Understanding old rules and choosing whether to apply them or not
    • Honing visual presentation techniques such as storyboarding, model-building, sketching
    • Practicing effective oral presentation
    • Rendering and drafting by hand and CAD/Vectorworks
    • Learning to manage projects in terms of time, resources, and scope
    • Portfolio/website development
    • Building a professional network

This intensive three-year program features individual mentorship by professionals and extensive opportunities for hands-on learning through a variety of projects. Because of the program’s small size, we have the flexibility to meet the individual creative and learning needs of our students. The successful student will develop exceptional skills and a mastery of the creative process necessary to function at a high level in the professional world.

Download the benchmarks for the Scenic Design and Technology program (PDF).

Email Assistant Professor of Scenic Design Anya Klepikov

Email Faculty Technical Director Michael Cottom

Directing

The Directing Program provides an ongoing forum for faculty and peer response to production and studio work as well as a focus on directorial tools such as action and storytelling, analysis and conceptualization, organization and preparation, and working with collaborators. In addition to directing one project each semester they are enrolled, students are exposed to an array of experiences that can help them to cultivate the sensibilities, strategies and creative responsiveness necessary for a sustained professional life as a theater practitioner.

Download the benchmarks for the Directing MFA program (PDF).

Download a sample plan of study for the Directing MFA program (PDF).

Email professor Gil McCauley.

Email professor Gina Kaufmann or visit her website.

Dramaturgy

The Dramaturgy Program is rooted in production work and in learning how to work collaboratively as part of a creative team. Dramaturgy students work on at least one production each year, receiving one-on-one faculty mentoring through each of these production assignments. In addition to hands-on production experience, students learn a variety of approaches to their craft in the weekly Dramaturgy Workshop, where other important dramaturgical skills—including translation, adaptation, playwriting, and critical writing—are nurtured. Rigorous academic work, coupled with this intensive dramaturgical training, prepares students for the creative and analytical challenges they will face working as leaders in the professional theater, developing and curating the theater of the future.

The Dramaturgy Program provides flexibility for students to draw upon the larger resources of the Five Colleges to take classes in areas of particular interest and passion. A major component is an original thesis project, undertaken in the student’s third year.

Benchmarks for the Dramaturgy MFA program (PDF) »

Sample plan of study for the Dramaturgy MFA program (PDF) »

Email professor Harley Erdman.

Email professor Chris Baker.

Email professor Megan Lewis.

Email professor Priscilla Page.

Costume Design

The Costume Program provides a rigorous laboratory in which students develop sophisticated skills in research; conceptualization; oral, written and visual communication; design, rendering and drawing; management; and pertinent technical areas. Much of this training is acquired through assignments directly linked to Department of Theater productions. Working on these productions, students not only gain design experience but also receive strong technical grounding in construction and pattern making through work in the costume shop. Practical work is augmented with paper projects to develop a well-rounded, professional portfolio. As students progress through the program, all projects are individually mentored to best enhance the student's training and the development of skills suited for working in the professional theater.

Benchmarks for the Costume MFA program (PDF) »

Email professor Yao Chen.

Email costume shop manager Kristin Jensen.

Lighting Design

The Lighting Program is fueled by passion — passion for the ability of light to transform, and for the potential of the theatrical event. Technical and creative training in class is augmented by yearly production assignments. Designing and assisting on realized productions affords our students the opportunity to articulate their artistic voices and to learn to work effectively as part of a collaborative team. Students are mentored individually to uncover their own voices in a supportive yet challenging environment, both in the classroom and in the theater. This close mentoring relationship is an integral part of our lighting program — each graduate class is kept small to allow for an honest and challenging one-on-one relationship between professor and student. At the same time, the graduate student will have the opportunity to practice teaching both inexperienced and experienced undergraduates, and will be mentored in developing his or her own educational skills as part of the program. These close relationships often lead to further academic and professional opportunities after graduation. When they leave the department, students will enter into a valuable network of UMass graduates in the professional field. Graduating students will be equipped with artistic, technical and professional skills that render them prepared for the rigors of working in the professional theater as well as for teaching.

Benchmarks for the Lighting MFA program [PDF] »

Sample plan of study [PDF] »

Email professor Penny Remsen.

Email department master electrician Michael Dubin.

Scenic Design and Technology

Click to view a photostream of UMass Theater scenic design and technology work.

A well-conceived and executed design rewards the audience and performer with a physical environment which focuses and heightens the experience of the event they are sharing. The design of the space supports and makes manifest a vision which is the synergy of the minds and passions of every member of the creative team. This is why we emphasize a collaborative approach to storytelling in our curriculum. Working on departmental productions and on theoretical class projects builds up mastery of the spatial design and implementation through:

    • Collaborating with a diverse group of theater makers: directors, performers, designers, production staff, audience
    • Exploring successful performance spaces
    • Understanding of genre as a historical entity and as a tool of design
    • Learning to accommodate both audience and performer
    • Exploring dynamic uses of scenic space
    • Honing dramaturgical and visual research skills
    • Learning the history of architecture and decorative arts
    • Creatively applying research to support and amplify the overall vision of the performance/event
    • Exploring the different design needs of theater, opera, dance, television, and film
    • Understanding old rules and choosing whether to apply them or not
    • Honing visual presentation techniques such as storyboarding, model-building, sketching
    • Practicing effective oral presentation
    • Rendering and drafting by hand and CAD/Vectorworks
    • Learning to manage projects in terms of time, resources, and scope
    • Portfolio/website development
    • Building a professional network

This intensive three-year program features individual mentorship by professionals and extensive opportunities for hands-on learning through a variety of projects. Because of the program’s small size, we have the flexibility to meet the individual creative and learning needs of our students. The successful student will develop exceptional skills and a mastery of the creative process necessary to function at a high level in the professional world.

Download the benchmarks for the Scenic Design and Technology program (PDF).

Email Assistant Professor of Scenic Design Anya Klepikov

Email Faculty Technical Director Michael Cottom