M.F.A. in Directing

The M.F.A. Directing Program at The University of Texas at Austin is a vital, ascendant, highly selective professional training program, targeted to mid-career theatre artists of proven expertise -- and designed to embrace the evolving role of the 21st century director. As a department committed to the comprehensive training of directors and the creation of new works for the stage, we believe directing to be both a collaborative and generative craft - and thus our program welcomes artists from a variety of theatrical disciplines and backgrounds who seek a vigorous interdisciplinary approach to the art of making theatre.

UT is a location of increasing returns: a sharp and compassionate community of artists; a robust and championing faculty; and abundant resources for new playmaking. The program inspires a dynamic tension -- I was anchored in craft alongside being inspired to my rowdiest and most surprising sensibilities as an artist. Bold in its mission and energized in its make-up, I am a ridiculously proud graduate of the Playwriting and Directing Area at UT.

--Courtney Sale, Associate Artistic Director, Indiana Repertory Theater and Co-Founder/Director, The Duplicates  Class of 2012

Our unique M.F.A. in Directing combines a rigorous immersion in the tactical craft of directing with a bold embrace of collaborative theatre models. As part of our focus on new work, M.F.A. directors work closely and regularly with UT's award-winning M.F.A. Playwriting Program, directing/developing aesthetically diverse new work in both classroom, workshop and production settings. In addition to preparing our directors for scripted work (with both established and emerging playwrights) – we also expect them to be conversant and accomplished in a variety of non-traditional approaches to creating new theatre: generative, adaptive, devised and community-based.

I couldn’t have made a better choice than UT-Austin for my grad studies. The three years away from the pressures of ‘regular” life to focus, learn and collaborate with fantastically talented writers, designers and mentors was invaluable. Living in Austin is a gift to the creative spirit. My art is better and my opportunities more expansive because of my time there. Also, I got to swim laps outside.

-- Halena Kays, Artistic Director, The Hypocrites, Chicago Class of 2011

Graduate directors at UT/Austin have nearly limitless opportunities in terms of production and play development resources, including the Cohen New Works Festival, the Mainstage Season, Workshop and Lab Seasons and regular world premiere productions in UTNT (UT New Theatre). Directors have also participated in Austin-based festivals such as Fusebox and the Hyde Park’s Frontera Festival

In addition to working closely with members of Austin's legendary Rude Mechs (the resident theatre company of UT Austin) graduate directors have access to targeted professional residencies around the country and ongoing summer observerships. We have placed students at venues such as Steppenwolf Theatre, Soho Rep, The Orchard Project, O'Neill Theatre Center, PlayPenn (Philadelphia), the Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Southern Rep, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, among others.

I cannot imagine a better graduate playwriting/directing program than UT Austin, and I would encourage any artist that is interested in the best research facilities and the top echelon of professors to apply. The work you put in will be returned tenfold.

-- Luke Leonard, Producing Artistic Director, Monk Parrots, NYC       Class of 2010

Ongoing interactions with visiting Professional Guest Artists provide further opportunities for enrichment and advancement.  Recent guest artists include playwrights Sarah Ruhl, Lisa d'Amour, Mac Wellman, Julie Marie Myatt, Robert Schenkkan, Octavio Solis, Sherry Kramer, Mike Daisy, James Still, Kevin Kling, Alice Tuan, and Jeffrey Hatcher;  directors Anne Kaufman, Jonathon Barry, Ken Russ Schmoll, and Sheila Daniels;  and artistic leaders Sarah Benson (Soho Rep), Molly Smith (Arena Stage), Emily Mann (McCarter Theatre Center), Marc Masterson (South Coast Rep), Maria Goyanes (Public Theatre), Adam Greenfield (Playwrights Horizons), Polly Carl (Center for Theatre Commons), Maria Striar (Clubbed Thumb), Dan Rothenberg (Pig Iron Theatre Company), Victoria Vazquez (Elevator Repair Service), Lue Douthit (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), John Baker (Woolly Mammoth), Aimee Hayes (Southern Rep), Gary Garrison (Dramatists Guild), Chris Coleman (Portland Center Stage), Mead Hunter (New Harmony Project), Seth Rozin (InterAct Theatre), Ed Herendeen (Contemporary American Theatre Festival), Linda Hartzell (Seattle Children's Theatre), Janet Allen (Indiana Rep), David Sarr (Childsplay), and Wendy Goldberg (O'Neill Theater Center).

Beyond their core course of study, the Department of Theatre & Dance offers MFA Directing students innovative curricula in Dramaturgy, Playwrighting, Acting, Design, Media Arts, Performance as Public Practice, Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities, and Dance.  The University of Texas at Austin is one of the largest public universities in the United States.  Recent graduates of the M.F.A. Directing program of our program are leading theatre companies in New York, Boston, Chicago and Austin. 

UT Austin was my first choice for grad school because of their focus on the development and continued life of new work. My M.F.A. has proven not just to be an education in my role as a director and collaborator, but also in a multiplicity of theatre practices and modes of creating work. I've had the opportunity to workshop and create a variety of new pieces with designers and playwrights, as well as embrace the potential for innovation in extant work.

-- Will Davis, current New York Theater Workshop 2050 Fellow   
Class of 2013