Master of Fine Arts - Theatre
The MFA in design/technology is a professional training program committed to preparing imaginative and inventive artists and technicians for careers in theater and the entertainment industry.
With the goal to develop a resourceful and flexible student with a broad and diverse portfolio, the department requires that each student develop a primary focus in a selected area of design/technology: scenic design, lighting design, costume design, or technical direction. Elective courses, in entertainment engineering, interior design, architecture, film, 3-D imaging and animation, provide the student designer with increased depth, perspective and experience.
The student's formal training and instruction is provided through a mentorship with UNLV's distinguished design/technology faculty and nationally and internationally recognized guest artists. Each student participates in a series of production projects specifically selected to strengthen the imagination and technique of the student, emphasizing skills in drafting, research, history, interpretation, concept development and production collaboration. The program also shares unique connections to the entertainment industry and internship opportunities complement the work done within the department.
For information regarding accreditation at UNLV, please head over to Academic Program Accreditations.
- Communication Techniques — verbal and visual communication techniques that include public speaking, clear written presentation of ideas and concepts, the use of concentration appropriate visual aids.
- Production Skills — appropriate for the desired concentration that may include; audition, staging, rehearsal techniques, learning lines, practicing scenes, performance etiquette, design and construction skills used in the lighting, scenery, and costume production studios, collaboration, and time management.
- Build the experiential portfolio through theoretical classroom study and creation as well as participation in production and performance assignments.
- Professional preparation — self-marketing as is timely and appropriate in their program that may include auditioning, resume construction, portfolio presentation, and networking.
- The ability to study and analyze plays; have an understanding of historic context of dramatic structure, genre, style, and direction through the study of plays and theatre history.
- An understanding of the contextual importance of theatre in the humanities, in the fine arts and part of the human experience.
If there are no Plans of Study listed under this program, they may be listed under one of its sub-plans.
The MFA in Directing is designed to prepare the student, through academic and real world opportunities, to work and compete in the professional arena. The director will be trained to be a leader and shaper who is always the mediator working with the production team as the head of the collaborative process.
The program is crafted to balance the academic and literary with professional internships to help ready the MFA candidate for placement in the working market today. The program is hands-on training in the craft of directing working directly with the MFA programs in performance and playwriting. The student begins with play analysis and dramaturgy and basic elements in the first year; design elements and collaborative process in the second year; and professional preparation and internship in their third year. The student will have a chance to work on a fully realized play each of their three years in the program.
- The ability to direct a theatrical production by working with a team that includes actors, designers, stage manager, and all attendant areas.
- Knowledge of Dramatic Literature
- An understanding of the basic world canon of dramatic literature including emphasis on Shakespeare, Restoration, Eighteenth Century, Modern, and Contemporary plays.
- Directing of Plays/Productions
- Students will be able to direct plays in all theatrical genres. Ability to utilize the basics (staging, blocking, composition, pace, tempo, rehearsal scheduling, working with actors, etc.) in directing.
- Theatre History
- Knowledge of the progression of Theatre from the Greeks to the present.
- Play Structure and Analysis
- Ability to analyze plays. Understanding of various genres. Understanding of major theories and criticism.
- Professional Preparation
- Ability to present themselves as prepared professionals through an understanding of producing, budget planning, union requirements, reality of the workplace, and adjunct areas (media) in which directors might find employment.
- Ability to research specific plays and historical eras. Ability to determine reasons for successes and failures of past productions. A sense of a play’s importance to the era in which it was written and in a contemporary context.
- Acting Methods/Techniques
- Ability to work with actors trained in a variety of acting training methods.
- Visualization and Setting
- Understanding of the effect and contributions visual climate and sound make to a production.
Plans of Study: Part IIN/A
The MFA Performance Program admits a new class of 10 actors every three years. The program is a comprehensive, inter-disciplinary professional actor training program, designed to prepare the actor for a variety of styles and genres of performance work including: contemporary and modern realism, Shakespeare and other classical material, and acting for the camera.
In the first year of the program, students receive foundation training in action, subtext, environment, sense memory, emotional preparation, ensemble building, characterization, language, and script analysis.
Each semester the student trains in a different specialized acting style. Style training classes include Shakespeare, comedy of manners, modern drama, American classics, contemporary realism, and audition technique. Extensive acting for the camera training is offered in the second and third years.
Integrated voice and movement technique, speech for the stage, dance technique, and strength-based movement work are also required in each semester.
MFA Performance Candidates enroll in a 3-credit graduate seminar course in spring semester of the first two years, which explores essential elements of theater literature, history, and criticism in a collaborative setting.
Additionally, actors in the program participate in productions with the Nevada Conservatory Theatre, Las Vegas' premiere regional theater company, working alongside experienced professional actors, directors, designers, and faculty guest artists.
- Advanced Acting Technique
- The MFA performance student will learn Stanislavsky based acting technique. The student will be able to analyze, stage, and perform in scenes selected from the modern American theatre movement of the 20th century.
- Acting Styles
- The MFA performance student will be able to act in, and understand the historical context and relevance of a variety of styles and genres of plays including Shakespeare, Comedy of Manners (Moliere, Restoration Comedy, Wilde, Coward) and Modern Styles (Chekhov, Ibsen, Shaw, Strindberg, etc.), Musical Theatre, and Acting for the Camera.
- Advanced Voice, Movement & Speech Technique
- The MFA performance student will learn and be able to apply advanced technical skills of voice, movement and speech for the stage that will enhance characterization skills necessary for work on a variety styles and genres of plays.
- Musical Theatre Skills
- The MFA performance student will learn singing technique for the musical theatre and dance technique in a variety of disciplines including Ballet, Jazz, Modern, and Ballroom dancing.
- Professional Preparation
- The MFA performance student will learn to audition and market his/her skills at a level appropriate to entering the acting profession.
- Principles of Dramatic Structure and Script Analysis
- The MFA performance student will be able to analyze a script from any period and style and discern its structure, form, and theme.
- Theatre History and Dramatic Literature
- The MFA performance student will be able to draw upon knowledge of theatre history when creating a theatrical performance.
Plans of Study: Part II
Stage Management Track
Stage managers are the master collaborators and communicators. Their real talents lie in nurturing the creative process, coordinating diverse artistic personalities and maintaining positive energy. Organized, responsible, tactful, adaptable, and graceful under pressure, they are the backbone of any production. Stage managers, considered "jacks of all trades," are understanding and sensitive to the processes of their fellow collaborators.
The curriculum in stage management reinforces the importance of a broad base of knowledge by requiring studios in directing, technical direction, scenery, costumes, and/or lighting. Other aspects of management are also covered, including production management, company management, and front-of-house administration.
Emphasis is also placed on management within the larger entertainment industry through a liaison with the UNLV's internationally recognized School of Hotel Administration. Opportunities for stage management exist in all theater venues as well as dance and music.
- Common Principles of Professional Stage Management
- The student will learn common professional practices in preparing a prompt script, preparing standard paperwork and calling a show.
- Directing and Acting
- The student will learn about multiple approaches to directing and how to adapt stage management skills to various approaches. The students will also learn how to interface with actors, supporting their efforts in rehearsal and helping them maintain quality and consistency in performance.
- Stage Technology and Design
- The student's basic knowledge of theatrical design and technology will be expanded so that the student is able to understand and share information with other production participants in their vernacular.
- Theatre Management, Production Management and Collaboration
- The student will learn about front of house operations including structure and chain of command, by-laws, non-profit status, publicity, play selection, house management and company management. The student will come to understand the "big picture", the responsibilities of overall management of a production and the importance of collaboration and communication.
- Union Regulations and Legal Aspects of the Fine Arts
- The student will learn about the unions encountered in professional production. In particular, the student will learn how to interpret and implement the rules of Actors' Equity. The student will also learn about contracts, copyright, royalties and legal and social censorship.
- Aspects of Management Peculiar to Las Vegas Production
- The student will learn about tourism and convention administration as well as backstage operations within a Las Vegas show.