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Indiana University Bloomington
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Master of Fine Arts, Theatre Technology

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.

Admission

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.

Retention

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.

Success

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.

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.