Degree Title: Master of Fine Arts
Program Name and Number: Playwriting - MF5135
Department/Unit: Dance, Film, and Theater
Delivery Mode: Athens Campus
Program Mission: The Ohio University MFA Theater Degrees prepare students to:
- Demonstrate heightened skills in professional presentation, collaboration and communication.
- Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of research practices, dramatic literature, theory and history.
- Apply heightened skills and demonstrate a comprehension of theories and methodologies as they relate to professional practice in specific disciplines.
The goal of the Professional Playwriting Program is to cultivate the individual artistic voice and vision of developing playwrights who, by developing new plays that actively engage in the contemporary social, scientific, political, and aesthetic debates of the nation, will become leaders in American Theatre and active contributors to American culture.
To achieve this, the MFA program in playwriting trains writers in the practices of professional playwriting and script development with a heavy emphasis on writing plays specifically for performance. The foundation of the training begins with earnest and rigorous study of the theories of narrative structure followed by the application of that theory with the goal of developing new plays that effectively synthesize individual artistic voice with individualized narrative structure.
Program Learning Objectives:
- Identification and/or development of an individual and distinct artistic voice and vision.
- Comprehensive knowledge of, and the ability to apply, theories of Narrative Structure.
- The ability to synthesize artistic voice with the theories of Narrative Structure.
- Comprehensive knowledge of, and the ability to apply, theories of theatricality.
- Application of techniques and approaches to critical analysis applicable to narrative structure in developing work.
- The ability to collaborate with interpretive artists such as actors, directors, and designers.
- Working knowledge of the dramatic literary tradition.
Program Overview: The Professional Playwriting Program seeks to train playwrights to become artists who, through a conscious and deliberate application of their craft, contribute to the culture by writing plays designed for production. Our program focuses upon the concentrated study and application of narrative dramatic structure, the study of a diverse dramatic literary tradition, the earnest development of the individual artistic voice, and the synthesis of artistic voice and narrative structure. The M.F.A. is earned through the completion of 90 credit hours of course-work over three years. The third year may include an internship with a professional theater company. Coursework includes Playwrights Seminar, which is the venue for the study of the theories of dramatic narrative structure; Playwrights Workshop, which is the venue for the application of the theories of narrative structure through the development of full-length work; Playwrights Production, which puts our writers in the theater, writing for production on a weekly basis and is the laboratory for structural and theatrical experimentation; Theater History and Criticism, which focuses upon the study of our dramatic literary traditions; and a variety of directed electives designed to enhance areas of research. The goal of the program is to create an environment in which writers can develop unique voices while freely experimenting with different theatrical styles and forms. In this environment, writers in the program will complete a body of work, much of which will have been produced during their course of study. The degree is awarded for significant progress in the development of voice and dramatic writing skills, and the completion of a body of work that is suitable for professional production.
Opportunities for Graduates The Professional Playwriting Program focuses upon the study and application of dramatic narrative structure that is applicable to a number of genres. While many of our graduates are currently working as freelance writers whose work is being produced by theater companies across the country, many of our graduates are also working as writers and editors in print media, and working as writers and producers in network and cable television, and film.
The program also has a flexible internship policy allowing some students to intern during their second or third year. Many of the students who are accepted into the MFA playwriting program have had professional theatre experience before entering into the program. Therefore, decisions on internships are made on a case-by-case basis. Where applicable, internships are typically arranged with a number of regional theatres or national playwright’s service organization that specialize in new play development and/or production. These internships provide contacts for graduating students and allow them to participate in the process of professional script development, production, or literary management with established professionals who maintain ongoing relationships with the playwriting faculty. Internships over the past three years include placements at 13th Street Repertory Company (New York), New Dramatists (New York), id Theatre (New York), The Wilma Theatre (Philadelphia), Victory Gardens Theatre (Chicago), and Chicago Dramatists (Chicago).
Link to Program: http://www.ohio.edu/finearts/theater/academics/graduate-programs/mfa-playwriting.cfm
MFA Playwriting Blog: http://ohioplaywriting.org
- The program requires 90 semester hours of total credit during three years of full time graduate study.
- At least 50% of coursework must be in graduate only classes.
- Sixty credit hours or 67% of the total credit hours are in studio or workshop courses in the major area. These courses include seminars on:
- Theories of narrative structure
- Story development
- Plot development
- Application of narrative theory in the developmental process
- Writing for performance
- First-draft rewriting techniques
- Techniques for rewriting during rehearsals
- Approaches to critical analysis
- Application of critical analysis to the new play process
- Identification and consequently development of artistic voice and vision
- Best business practices in playwriting including models of playwright collaboration with actors, directors, and designers
- Twelve (12) credit hours or 13% of the total credit required is devoted exclusively to studies in Theatre History and Criticism. In addition, approaches to critical analysis and application of critical analysis to the new play process are a part of every course in the major area.
- The remaining 18 hours include the development of a screenplay in the second year, and studies in topics outside of the Division of Theater that will support and continue to develop the individual students’ artistic point of view. These secondary areas of study, identified in each student’s artistic statement during their first year in the program, commonly focus upon areas of contemporary social, medical, political, scientific, cultural or aesthetic significance that will serve as the basis for artistic exploration in the individual plays developed in the program. These courses are interdisciplinary, and are offered by departments typically outside the Theater Division and College of Fine Arts such as the School of Health Sciences, The College of Medicine, the African Studies Department, and the Women’s and Gender Studies Department, and Geological Sciences.
Admission Requirements: Minimum standards for acceptance include a 3.0 g.p.a. for undergraduate work and the submission of two sample manuscripts in dramatic form. Admission is based on evaluation of the applicant’s writing sample, resume, goals statement, and recommendations from references. A visit to the University and an interview are strongly encouraged. The GRE is not required for this program.
Change Policy: Minimum standards for acceptance include a 3.0 g.p.a. for undergraduate work and the submission of two sample manuscripts in dramatic form. Admission is based on evaluation of the applicant’s writing sample, resume, goals statement, and recommendations from references. A visit to the University and an interview are strongly encouraged.
Transfer Policy: Minimum standards for acceptance include a 3.0 g.p.a. for undergraduate work and the submission of two sample manuscripts in dramatic form. Admission is based on evaluation of the applicant’s writing sample, resume, goals statement, and recommendations from references. A visit to the University and an interview are strongly encouraged.