MFA, Theatre Technology



Program Specifics




Financial Aid

Frequently Asked Questions

Paul Brunner Paul Brunner
Head of Theatre Technology
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The MFA in Theatre Technology aims to graduate highly competent technical directors that are equipped for successful careers in the innovative discipline of theatre technology. The program emphasizes key themes to foster success.

  1. Problem-solving and management skills through courses in technical management, structural design and analysis, and construction and production management.
  2. Communication skills through a positive collaborative environment in courses and stage productions, and through technical writing and training in hand & computer aided drafting.
  3. Modern technology and industry trends through courses in electronics and controls for theatre, mechanical scenery, and theatrical and area rigging.

The program presents graduates with a blend of modern skills and design sensibilities that prepare students to be creative collaborators involved in all phases of conceptualization promotion competent aesthetic and technical design in demanding modern stage productions. Additionally, critical thinking, script analysis and theory are underscored in theatre history and criticism courses. The program maintains an eight-production season that provides students with at least three annual production assignments for students in a high-paced but nurturing environment. Strong emphasis is placed on producing high-quality productions that, when combined with coursework, foster new approaches and ideas to scenery technology.

Students also earn a minor in one of the following: Scenic Design, Costume Design, Lighting Design, Sound Design. Students may also elect to create a minor composed of a unique mix of courses organized with their advisor to meet the individual goals of each student. Students graduate well prepared for careers in all areas of live performance that may include professional and educational theatre, theme parks, and corporate/special events, themed restaurants and retail, and product research and development.


Students are admitted into the program after proving competency as shown by their portfolio, statement of goals, and required onsite interview. Judgments of portfolio, writing quality, and professional potential are made by members of the Design and Technology Faculty Committee.


Each year students are invited to continue in the program after the faculty has assessed a student’s academic success, artistic growth and professional development. A 3.2 GPA or higher typically indicates academic success. The studentís faculty advisor provides an interim evaluation at the end of each Fall semester, and at the end of the first and the second year, students are required to present their portfolio with an oral interview to the Design and Technology Faculty Committee. At this time the committee will determine whether a student shall be advanced in the program. Weaknesses in the areas of academic success, artistic growth and professional development will be identified and may result in a probationary semester or dismissal from the program.

Program Specifics

Theatre Technology students are assigned as production Technical Directors on at least five productions during their three-year program of study. Students also receive production experience by being the assistant technical director, master carpenter, properties master, and scenery technologist on stage productions. Numerous opportunities exist to design complex mechanical and automated effects as well as to with the IATSE staff of the IU Auditorium while being exposed to touring productions. Summer production experience is also available at the Brown County Playhouse, our professional summer theatre.

MFA students must successfully complete an MFA Thesis Project that is defined by the student and faculty advisor. Successful thesis topics could include: new applications of materials and technology, creation of unique or specific devices to solve common theatrical challenges, new analysis techniques for theatre scenery construction, investigation into historical scenery methods, analysis of production processes, communication, and/or management, or other topics that clearly show original thought in theatre technology. Production-bases thesis projects are also viable when coupled with stage productions appropriate to each student’s needs and abilities. Thesis projects are individualized and are focused to a student’s interests and passions through comprehensive faculty advising.


The successful student will complete the M.F.A. with a varied portfolio of realized technical direction assignments and projects in technical production. The graduate from Indiana University will be well prepared for a career in the professional or academic environment; having mastered diverse methods of wood and metal scenery construction; technical management; technical research, collaborative and communication skills, and a mature professional process including strong problem solving skills. Methodologies encompass both traditional and contemporary scenic solutions including scenery automation, AutoCAD drafting, and structural and mechanical design for the stage.

Graduates of the Technology M.F.A. program are employed as Technical Directors and carpenters at theatres across the country including Utah Opera, the Smithsonian, Indiana Repertory Theater and in academic settings at Southeast Missouri State University, The Ohio State University, Eastern Connecticut State University, Beloit College, and Milliken University.


T-539  Introduction to Theatrical Drafting
An introduction to drafting, both by hand and AutoCAD, with an emphasis on drafting standards, sheet composition and clear and concise communication.  Lecture and Studio.

T-639 Advanced Theatrical Drafting
Building on the Fundamentals course, this course focuses on individual projects in CAD drafting.  It is geared toward a student’s area of study and relies on a self directed work ethic.  Emphasis is placed on preparing design and technical and design drawings for actual production and scenic studio applications.  Studio.

T-536  Electronics for the Theatre
Fundamentals of electricity and electronics as applied to theatre.  Investigation of current technology for theatrical performance including power distribution, control systems and creative applications for lighting, sound, special effects, and mechanized scenery. 

T-529  Scenery Mechanics
Analysis of mechanical design process for scenery effects using electric motors, pneumatics, hydraulics and traditional methods.  Emphasis on stage wagons, lifts, turntables and winches and common theatrical devices and control methods.

T-540  Structural Design for the Stage
Topics include the analysis of theatre scenery structures through the study forces, stress and strain for beam and column analysis.  Both wood and steel structures are covered.

T-529  Technical Management I & II
Topics include cost and labor estimating, construction management skills, management principals and leaderhip, rigging consulting, with an overall emphasis on creative problem solving skills, planning and estimating, technical research, communication and scenic traditional to modern construction methods. 

T-551 & T-552  Rigging I and II
Courses cover permanent rigging installations (counterweight, pin rail, block and tackle), rigging safety, operation procedures, rigging components, characteristics of rigging materials, and inspection procedures.  Included is an introduction to engineering principles of rigging, entertainment rigging and motorized rigging.  Taught by an ETCP Certified rigger.

T-529  Shop Management & Materials
Study and practice of advanced scene shop operations and skills including welding.  Research and analysis of common and advanced materials and construction resources with emphasis on newly engineered materials and their applications for stage scenery.

T-505  Research and Collaboration for the Theatre
(Team Taught by Design and Technology Faculty)
This studio course builds and strengthen research, collaboration, communication and artistic/presentation skills. Student teams research, investigate, design and present innovative approaches to major projects, devised to challenge their individual and collective growth as collaborative artists and technologists.

Independent Studies/Research Work.
Individualized subjects might include a research paper/portfolio presentation on an historical or contemporary production processes, theatrical methodologies, or pertinent historical or production subject. Could also include advanced study and practice of production drafting, methods, or theory.

Thesis Requirement (3-6 credits)
Each student will complete a thesis project during their third year of study in the program.  Thesis projects can be composed in two different ways as either a Production Thesis, or Research Thesis.  The project is tailored to meet the needs and career goals of each individual student in consultation with the program advisor.

Financial Aid

Graduate students in the Design and Technology M.F.A. programs are typically awarded an assistantship which includes a tuition waiver covering most fees, in addition to a stipend (currently a minimum of $11,000) for working 20 hours a week in their area of expertise. Academic merit fellowships and research/creative activity travel grant opportunities are also available on a competitive basis.

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 24.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many realized, fully-mounted production assignments can I expect in the program?
Students can expect at least 5 main season production assignments in their area of study over the course of their 3-year program.

How many shows do you do each season?
The Department of Theatre & Drama produces 8 fully-mounted stage productions each season in addition to a 4-show summer season, a modern dance concert, a new musical, and special events.

Will I work on the "Main Stage" or on the "student season"
We offer one season that we cosider a main stage, 8-production season, where graduate students serve as the primary designers (lighting, costumes, scenery), technical directors, scenic artists, and properties masters for all shows. See details about the season here.

Is the GRE required for admittance?
No, the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is not required for the M.F.A. program.

How many students are in the program?
We have graduate students in all design & technology areas. There are 5 Scenic Designers, 5 Costume Designers, 4 Lighting Designers, and 4 Theatre Technology (TD) students. When combined with M.F.A. Acting, Directing, and M.A. and Ph.D. graduates, the Department of Theatre and Drama has 55 graduate students and approximately 250 undergraduate majors.

What types of financial aid are available?
Financial aid resources are available from the financial aid office.

Does the program offer assistantships?
Yes, all M.F.A. students accepted into the program are offered graduate assistantships which provide a full tuition waiver, plus a competitive stipend, for each of their three years of study. Some fees cannot be waived.

Are teaching opportunities available?
If teaching coincides with the students professional goals, opportunities exist to gain college-level teaching experience through both laboratory instruction and classroom lectures.

What styles of shows do you do?
The department takes pride in offering a wide range of theatrical genres to students and audiences. Two musicals are produced each season in combination with six plays which are presented in diverse styles.

How do I apply to the program?
You can find admission information here.

What types of job placement services are offered?
Students are mentored into their respective professions by the major professor in their area (Lighting, Costumes, Scenery, or Technical Direction) with the purpose of meeting each individual student’s professional goals.

Where do the faculty instructors work professionally?
All Design and Technology faculty maintain active professional careers. Please see individual faculty profiles for more details.

What jobs do recent graduates have?
Recent graduates of our programs are employed all across the country. Please see specific program web pages for further information.