Jun 20, 2024  
OHIO University Graduate Catalog 2020-21 
OHIO University Graduate Catalog 2020-21 [Archived Catalog]

Directing - MFA

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Master of Fine Arts in Directing

Directing – MF5130

School of Theater
307 Kantner Hall
Ohio University
Athens, Ohio 45701

Delivery Mode: Athens Campus

Term of Entry: Fall

Program Overview

First-year directing classes are designed to help the director understand the logical progression of organic components that make up the directing process. This includes exploring how a play is chosen, including the shaping, cutting and modification of the final acting text; examining how a concept or directing approach is formulated, and where the dangers and pitfalls lie; discussing matters of textual analysis, including classical Aristotelian elements, dramatic structure, and breaking the text down from the actor’s point of view into objectives, actions, subtext, given circumstances and beats; analyzing research techniques and the pre-production period; probing the art of collaboration – with the designers, playwright, actors and stage management team – and how each collaboration is different; investigating the process of working with the design team on everything from the ground plan to the sound design; scrutinizing the casting process, from the writing of breakdowns to running an audition, and what a director needs to look for in the audition room; breaking down the rehearsal process, from first reading through table work, blocking, scene work, and run-throughs, with particular emphasis on working with the actor; and finally, looking at technical rehearsals, including methods of saving time and energy during cue-to-cue, and strategies for accomplishing as much work as you can in as little time as possible. A particular emphasis during the final ten weeks of THAR 5211 is sound design, and how the director interfaces with this vitally important aspect of theatre production.

Second-year training shifts emphasis to the director’s study of theatrical style. The first semester focuses on the Greeks, pre-Shakespearean verse, and other stylized theater modes including melodrama and farce, while the second concentrates on the poetry and plays of William Shakespeare and how, as directors, we adapt our pre-production and rehearsal work to his world. We begin with an in-depth study of the poet’s primary verse mode, iambic pentameter, starting with a thorough examination of his work in the Sonnet form, and how it functions both as poetry and as a method of storytelling. The students do in-depth analysis of several key sonnets, and along the way develop a working knowledge of the various rhetorical devices that Shakespeare used, including alliteration, antithesis, malapropism, simile and metaphor, onomatopoeia, parenthesis, synecdoche, assonance, metonymy, chiasmus, and others. They learn to adapt their existing pre-production skills to the varying challenges of working on the plays of Shakespeare.

The third year of training consists primarily of internship, thesis production, and independent studies. Classes associated with thesis involve weekly mentoring sessions during the pre-production process as well as during the rehearsal period. Every aspect of their directorial collaboration is evaluated, with particular emphasis on the strength, clarity and imagination of their conception of the production. Naturally, this involves regular attendance at design meetings, casting sessions and, once they are in progress, rehearsals.  The directors are also required to submit a professional looking production journal as part of their final grade, and participate in an Oral Defense of their thesis production with a Thesis Committee comprised of the Directing area head, a representative from the performance area faculty, and a third member from outside the performance area.

The goal of the Professional Director Training Program is to prepare students to be professional directors at the very highest level of the American theater. We aim to be among the best director-training programs in the nation – in faculty mentorship, curricular exposure and production opportunities.

Program Learning Outcomes

Successful Theater M.F.A. students at Ohio University will:

  • 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 directing, including pre-production, rehearsals, and technical rehearsals/previews.

Opportunities for Graduates

We continue to explore superior internship opportunities across the United States for students in the MFA directing program. In the past we have placed students in an array of professional theaters, including those in New York (Manhattan Class Company, New Georges, Abingdon Theater, and the Obie-award winning HERE); Chicago (two Tony Award-winning theaters – Victory Gardens Theater and the Goodman); London (Punchdrunk and Royal Opera House); and across the nation (Actors Theater of Louisville, Pangea World Theater, Florida Repertory Theater, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Contemporary American Theater Festival, Shakespeare Dallas, Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theater, Dallas Opera, Cara Mia Theater Company, and many others).  A number of our internships have led to direct employment, either as a director or as a staff member, underlining the professionalism and accomplishment of our graduate students as they bridge to the profession.

Further Information

Link to Program: https://www.ohio.edu/fine-arts/theater/mfa-directing

Admission Requirements

Requirements for the initial interview process would include a cover letter, full directing resume, copies of undergraduate transcripts, a statement of purpose and directing philosophy, plus three letters of recommendation.

International Students

This program permits full-time enrollment in residence at Ohio University, and an I-20 may be issued based on admission to this program.

Graduation Requirements

Complete a minimum of 90 credit hours as follows:

Theater and Performance Studies

Complete a minimum of 9 hours from among the following courses:

Theater History Seminars

Complete at least two theater history seminars totaling a minimum of 6 credit hours. Appropriate seminars will be designated by the program director.

Directing Core

Complete a minimum of 24 hours from the courses listed below.

Directing Foundation Studies

Complete a minimum of 6 hours of directing foundation courses, including the two following:

Directing Topics

Complete a minimum of 6 hours of directing topics courses, including the two following:

Acting Topics

Complete a minimum of 6 hours of acting topics courses, including the two following:

Directing Practicum

Complete a minimum of 6 hours of directing practicum, including at least 3 hours in each of the following:

Intradisciplinary Courses

Complete a minimum of 12 hours in intradisciplinary courses, including at least 3 hours each in playwriting and management, scene design, lighting design, and costume design.

Directing Thesis

Complete a minimum of 9 hours in courses for developing the thesis project. 

Culminating Experience

The capstone requirement is production and successful oral defense of a main stage thesis project (or equivalent), undertaken in the third year of study. MFA candidate directors receive full design support for their thesis production equivalent to that provided to faculty directors.

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