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Indiana University Bloomington
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Master of Fine Arts, Directing

We are recruiting directors for the 2016-17 school year.

Dale McFadden Dale McFadden
Head of Acting and Directing Program
Email | 812-855-4080 | Bio »

The goal of the M.F.A. Directing program is to train artists to enter the profession equipped with skills that prepare them to approach the major theatre genres. The faculty believe in an eclectic teaching approach to hone creative and technical skills for the performance and interpretation of realism, non-realism and the classics. We provide training with an emphasis on individual attention to theory, technique, practical experience, and individual growth. Seminars with Guest artists on acting for the camera and professional development are also offered periodically to prepare students for entry into theatre careers.


We maintain a total of three directors in our highly-selective three-year program, accepting one director per year. Applications are generally considered beginning in January, but will be accepted until all openings have been filled. Please e-mail with questions regarding the application process.

Auditions and Interviews

Auditions and interviews for prospective M.F.A. students in the areas of acting and directing are held annually in January-February via the University/Resident Theatre Association (U/RTA) in New York and Chicago. Applicationsfor directing opportunities are generally accepted through December, but those who wish to participate in U/RTA's National Unified Auditions and Interviews (NUA/I) and avoid additional fees should complete the online application by U/RTA's deadline in late October. Please see U/RTA's guidelines for additional details.

Those students not participating in the U/RTA auditions, but wishing to audition for representatives of Indiana University in New York, Chicago, or on the Bloomington campus, should submit a letter requesting an interview/audition at the desired site, along with a resume, headshot, and statement of purpose to:

Graduate Secretary
Indiana University
Department of Theatre and Drama
275 N. Jordan Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405-5551

Inquiries for a non-U/RTA audition or interview should be received NO LATER THAN THREE WEEK BEFORE the requested interview date. It is the prerogative of the department to deny or grant an interview or audition request based on resumes and any other supporting materials. Email with additional questions about application materials or scheduling an appointment.

Specific Requirements

  1. Apply to attend the University Resident Theatre Association's National Unified Auditions and Interviews OR schedule a private audition/interview in New York, Chicago, or on Indiana University's Bloomington campus.
  2. Be prepared to discuss in depth a production concept, the analysis of a script, rehearsal procedures, and potential directorial problems for either The Tempest or King Lear by William Shakespeare AND one of the following contemporary plays: Intimate Appare lby Lynn Notage or Angels in America: Part One by Tony Kushner. (Students interviewing through U/RTA should be prepared to discuss those plays on the U/RTA list only.)
  3. Prepare two 2-minute acting pieces. One should be a selection from a verse drama (preferably Shakespere), and the other should be a contemporary selection. (All potential directing students must prepare an acting audition as described above, unless they are going through the U/RTA interviews)
  4. Provide a photograph and resume that lists your creative work in the theatre and related areas.
  5. Provide copies of reviews, photographs, prompt books, and other materials that demonstrate your technical skill and creative ability in the theatre.
  6. At a second interview, be prepared to discuss in depth a production concept, the analysis of a script, rehearsal procedures, and potential directorial problems for two plays to be designated by the Department of Theatre and Drama.
  7. Additional information about Graduate Admissions Requirements »


Three Performance Projects

  • Year One: A Workshop Production of a Realistic Play with 3 Public Performances
  • Year Two: A Full Production in the Theatrical Season with 8 Performances
  • Year Three: A Full Thesis Production in the Theatrical Season with 8 Performances

Performance Spaces:

All Performance Spaces are in the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center, a theatre, teaching, and office complex.

  • The Acting and Directing Studios – Studio Spaces with adjustable lighting in the Directing Studio
  • The Wells- Metz Theatre – A Flexible Theatre, including a Balcony and Traps, with 236 Seats
  • The Ruth N. Halls Theatre – A Proscenium Theatre with 443 Seats
  • The Studio Theatre – An intimate space with flexible seating, a tension grid, and easy access to all levels


General Requirements

The M.F.A. Program in Directing is a 60-hour course of study (often more hours are taken) over a three year period. Efforts are made to create Internships for Directors, and there are also research and travel funds offered on a competitive basis.

Our faculty are committed to preparing directors through specific classes in technique and process while making a commitment to demanding texts of the classical and contemporary theatre. More than 75% of classes taken are in Directing and other technique and performance courses. Directors are trained to enter the professional theatre with skills to prepare them for work in the major genres of theatre – realism, the classics, and non-realism. An exposure to theoretical and historical knowledge, a development of analytical, interpretive, and directorial skills in the studio, and a practical and mentored experience of the directing process through three creative projects all serve as a foundation for creating learned, skilled, and dynamic directors. Students benefit from the guidance of eleven teacher/artists who are full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty. Directors will interact with most of the performance faculty either in the classroom or on various creative projects. Periodic guest directors are also used to enhance training and to bring current professional perspectives and experiences to our director/students.

Required Coursework

  • A minimum of one semester of Voice and Speech
  • A minimum of one semester of Movement
  • 3 major directing projects in production, the final one being the thesis project.
  • 6 credit hours in the areas of theatre history, dramatic theory, and dramatic literature. 3 credit hours must be in dramatic theory
  • Serve as assistant director to faculty director
  • Serve as stage manager to faculty director
  • Oral examination of the M.F.A. reading list

Recommended Courses

  • T434 Historic Costume for the Stage (3 cr)
  • T505 Design Research & Collaboration
  • T528 Studies in Stage Scenery (History of Decor section) (3 cr)

Program Components and Curricular Structures

Year One

Directors begin with a class emphasizing text analysis and work on a few small directing projects in order to assess the director’s strengths and weaknesses. They also take an Acting class and/or Movement or Voice & Speech so that they can enhance their work as directors and also become part of the community of actors taking classes. Four elective classes total are required in Acting, Movement and Voice & Speech. We also encourage directors to serve as an assistant director for one of our mainstage productions. Taking on this responsibility early in their training helps directors to not only observe how a particular director creates a production but also to assimilate the production culture and creative environment in which he/she will be working. A class on research methods followed by a seminar on teaching completes the Fall Semester. Two Directing classes are taken in the second semester – an introduction to directing contemporary plays of style such as Coward and Wilde and also a class devoted to realism.

The latter class also serves as the first year project for directors: a full length contemporary realistic play with a small cast and simple setting is chosen by the director and approved by the faculty. This play becomes the main work of the class after other work on further assessing and improving the basics of directing such as staging, actor communication, and text analysis leading to articulation of theme, motivating force, and development of design ideas.

Work on the full-length play focuses on the development of a dramatic and theatrical point of view that leads to a specific production. Articulation on the value of the play for artists and audience, text analysis, development of theme; motivating force; specific behavior scene by scene, actor communication, collaboration with designers, when possible, on a simple yet evocative design, and creation of a detailed rehearsal schedule are all goals of the project. The faculty member teaching the class guides the director through the process of page to stage, observes rehearsals, and fosters rehearsal methods suitable to the play. There is a public presentation of three performances and all performance faculty see the production. There is a formal meeting with the director in which feedback and evaluation are provided. A class in History/Theory/Literature and another Acting or Movement or Voice and Speech class is also taken in the Spring.

Also the teaching of basic acting begins in the second semester, and the Director is assigned one class to teach while receiving regular guidance from a faculty member.

Year Two

In the second year of training directors usually serve as an assistant stage manager for one of our major productions. We encourage them to work on a style of play that is not familiar to them and one in which they have an interest, so that in addition to enhancing their appreciation for the role of stage management they also witness a play of particular interest to them being interpreted, rehearsed, and presented in production. Class work in the first semester involves further training in style –either Shakespeare or non-realism, and additional classes, as in the first year, from remaining electives in Acting, Movement, and Voice and Speech. In the second semester another class in History/Theory/Literature is taken in addition to two other classes usually in Acting and/or Movement or Voice & Speech. Encouragement is also given for taking a class in an outside Department such as English, Film Studies, or Telecommunications. They are also encouraged to create an Independent Study related to their thesis production if they are directing in the first semester of their third year.

The second-year creative project is a fully produced play in our theatrical season with eight performances. The M.F.A. director knows what play he/she will be directing early in their second semester of their first year. They are assigned a faculty advisor who meets with the director to help set artistic goals while guiding the director through the process of interpreting the play and articulating a production. The advisor also attends production conferences, advises on casting, attends rehearsals, and in regular meetings offers overall feedback and guidance for growth and accomplishment of goals.

Teaching of basic acting continues in the second year, and the director now teaches two sections of basic acting and/or the second level of acting. Guidance in teaching from a faculty member continues to be a part of the teaching process.

Year Three

In the third year of training the director takes his/her remaining styles class – either Shakespeare or non-realism; thesis hours, if directing their thesis production; or an independent study related to their thesis production–if directing in the second semester. An off-campus assistant directing position at a professional theatre is also usually arranged for the director for which credit is given. In the last semester of training the director takes the last class in History/Theory/Literature; thesis hours, if directing their thesis production; and one or two other elective classes not limited to those in the Department.

The third-year creative project is again a fully produced play, and it is the thesis production for the director. The thesis committee is comprised of three faculty members chosen by the director. Two are from the Acting/Directing faculty, and the third member is from outside the area either from within or outside of the Department. All members should ideally have specific perspectives and complement each other in the work of guiding and advising the director. There should be one main advisor who oversees the entire process.

Teaching continues in the third year, and the director teaches two classes per semester at the introductory and/or secondary level of acting.

Course Descriptions

Required Courses

  • T500 Research Methods and Materials (1.5 cr) Methods and materials of theatre research, principles of scholarly investigation, strategies of production research, criticism, and analysis of the drama in production. Must be taken during the first term of residence.
  • T700 Independent Study (1 cr) Preparation for Teaching.
  • T442 Directing II (3 cr) Emphasis on detailed script analysis.
  • T443 Directing III (3 cr) Directing selected scenes from plays of various periods and styles, with emphasis on overall production concept.
  • T542 Studies in Directing I (3 cr) History and analysis of major theories of directing.
  • T543 Studies in Directing II (1) (3 cr) Detailed method of developing concept for realistic playscripts, standard system of script analysis, research exercises in production history, in historical context, and in pertinent literature, ability to identify and articulate conventions of realistic drama and theatre, ability to identify and articulate individual elements of realistic styles in acting and design, practical exercises to translate actions onto the stage to realize a particular concept and style.
  • T543 Studies in Directing II (2) (3 cr) Detailed method of developing concept for classical playscripts, standard system of script analysis, research exercises in production history, in historical context, and in pertinent literature, ability to identify and articulate conventions of certain classical genres, research exercises in a period's manners, dress, politics, religious belief, music, art, and architecture, ability to identify and articulate elements of "elevated" style.
  • T543 Studies in Directing II (3) (3 cr) Ability to devise systematic approach to analysis of a modern or contemporary play whose form, structure, and conventions are apparently unique, method for developing a clear concept for such a play, practical exercises in creating a specific style in which to realize such a concept.
  • T897 M.F.A. Thesis (cr arr.) maximum of 10 credit hours may be taken.

Optional Courses

(A minimum of 2 courses from the following 6 courses, to be decided in consultation with advisor)

  • T521 Studies in Acting II (1) (3 cr) Theory and practice. Realism.
  • T621 Studies in Acting II (2) (3 cr) Theory and practice. Classic drama.
  • T721 Studies in Acting II (3) (3 cr) Theory and practice. Modern and contemporary non realism.
  • T522 Studies in Acting III (1) (3 cr) Techniques of acting realism, including script analysis, scoring a role, conventions of realistic playscripts, subtext, playing actions, concentration, character studies from life, and improvisation.
  • T622 Studies in Acting III (2) (3 cr) Techniques of acting Shakespeare, including facility with blank verse, scansion, conventions of Shakespearean playscripts, scoring long speeches and soliloquies, breath control.
  • T722 Studies in Acting III (3) (3 cr) Techniques of acting modern and contemporary drama, including analysis of unique playscripts, unfamiliar conventions, new character building techniques new rehearsal techniques, finding character and action in "plotless" playscripts.

Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, official information regarding degree requirements can be found on the University Graduate School web page.

Financial Aid

Graduate students in the M.F.A. directing program are typically awarded an assistantship which includes a tuition waiver covering most fees, in addition to a stipend (as of 2014-2015 a minimum of $15,750) for working 20 hours a week divided between teaching and administrative duties within the department. Academic merit fellowships and research/creative activity travel grant opportunities are also available on a competitive basis.

Academic Appointments

The standard graduate appointment is a 50% Full Time Employment (FTE) position requiring 20 hours of service per week or the teaching of three to four courses per academic year. Stipends for these graduate appointments are paid on a monthly basis and will have all appropriate taxes and deductions withheld.

There are two types of graduate appointments:

Graduate Assistantships
Graduate assistants work in various areas of theatre production (costuming, lights/sound, props, stagecraft), administrative offices (audience development, dramaturgy, house management, production management), or departmental offices (accounts, advising).

Associate Instructorships
Associate instructors teach first year courses in acting, oral interpretation, and theatre appreciation. These appointments are open to M.F.A. students and PhD students who have completed 30 hours of graduate work.


Appointment of associate instructorships and graduate assistantships, as well as the awarding of fellowships, is contingent upon: maintenance of a 3.2 academic average, satisfactory performance of duties of the appointment or fellowship, and enrollment in a specified minimum number of graduate hours.

Persons seeking financial aid through a graduate appointment must submit an application for admission into the University Graduate School (complete with all transcripts, letters of recommendation, and Graduate Record Examination scores). If a student has skills in program areas other than for what he/she is applying, a separate statement outlining those skills should be included.

For some graduate students there is also the possibility of summer employment at the Indiana Festival Theatre, a professional repertory theatre, run by the Department of Theatre and Drama on the IU Bloomington campus.

* Various scholarships, fellowships, and loans may be available through the University Graduate School or the Office of Student Financial Assistance. Inquiries should be sent to: Office of Student Financial Assistance, Indiana University, Franklin Hall 208, Bloomington, Indiana 47405.

Additional Benefits

Student Academic Appointees and Fellowship Recipients are automatically enrolled in the student insurance plan and the cost of the student premium is paid by the university. The plan also includes dental, mental health and prescription drug benefits. Eligible students may also insure their dependents. Eligible dependents are the spouse/same-sex domestic partner (residing with the Insured student) and unmarried children under the age of 26.

Learn more about the Student Academic Appointee Health Insurance Plan

Additional benefits include a "green conscious" campus with free buses, free Adobe and Microsoft products, and a ubiquitous wireless internet

Evaluation and Retention

M.F.A. directors must complete a major creative project in each of the first two years in the program.

The first year project is a workshop production of a realistic play with three public performances, and the director has a faculty advisor. The production is seen by all Acting/Directing faculty, and it is discussed, critiqued, and evaluated in a face to face meeting with the director who receives comment on areas of accomplishment and needed improvement. A non-approval of project work detailing the areas of weakness would result in probation and a possible eventual dismissal from the program.

In the second semester there is an annual evaluation of each director based on artistic progress, academic achievement, and overall compliance with the obligations for being an M.F.A. director. A recommendation is sent to the Graduate Committee as to whether or not the student should be allowed to continue in the program. A non-recommendation detailing the areas of weakness would result in academic probation and a possible eventual dismissal.

The second-year project is a fully produced play in our theatrical season. The director again has a faculty advisor, and the same criteria as those used in the first year project apply here for evaluation and retention.

An end of the year discussion is also held with each director to discuss any questions and/or concerns that the director wants to bring to the attention of the Acting/Directing faculty.

In the third year each M.F.A. director must complete a thesis project which is a fully produced play in our theatrical season. The director has a thesis committee that provides guidance and also serves as the evaluator of the thesis work. In addition, an oral examination with prescribed material, an oral defense of the project, and an appropriate record of the project are required. The permanent record of the thesis project will follow a format prescribed by the Department of Theatre and Drama.

Since projects for directors are not always in the first semester of a director’s course work, it is not possible to always evaluate a director each semester as indicated in NAST Guidelines. But directors are still given two evaluations each year – one for their project work and one for their overall progress in the program – even though such evaluations may both be in the second semester.