MFA in Theatre: Directing
Note: The School of Theatre and Dance will recruit its next class of MFA Directing students for the Fall of 2016.
The Graduate Directing Program at Illinois State University offers three years of intensive study in the artistry and craft of the theatre director. The program features a broad-based curriculum, offers extensive production experience, and affords opportunities for internships with professional companies, including the Illinois Shakespeare Festival.
The Director Training Program at Illinois State University/Illinois Shakespeare Festival accepts a select group of advanced students who have demonstrated the potential to succeed in long-term careers as professional directors. The goal of the program is to help cultivate the next generation of creative leaders in the American Theatre. To that end, the program nurtures the emergence of a unique and personal aesthetic for each director, while at the same time fostering an appreciation for the skills and technique required to achieve sustainable success in the profession. Accepted candidates will demonstrate curiosity about their world and the capacity to lead with empathy.
The Professional Director Training Program Goals:
- Develop an individualized aesthetic that speaks to today's world
- Communicate effectively with performers
- Collaborate openly and creatively with a design team
- Analyze plays from multiple genres
- Embrace poetic language and rhetorical device in classical plays
- Master staging techniques for multiple space configurations
- Work with professional rigor
More detailed information on program requirements and course descriptions can be found in the Graduate Catalog.
Year One: In the first year, students will investigate the rehearsal process and the art of collaborating with actors and designers. As part of this exploration, each director will helm a Full-Length play in the Directing Lab. This production is presented with a minimal budget and encourages creative resourcefulness on the part of the director.
Year Two: The second year will focus on poetic texts and the emerging aesthetic of individual directors. Each student will work with a team of designers on two fully staged productions including a classical play.
Year Three: During the third year, directors will apply the theories and skills learned over the past two years to a fully produced Terminal Project that will be a part of the Mainstage Series in the School of Theatre and Dance. Depending on the play, these will be presented in the Center for the Performing Arts or the Westhoff Theatre. Additionally, students will leave campus for an Internship intended as a transition to the professional world.
M.F.A. students at Illinois State University receive training and gain experience in teaching at the college/university level. Graduate students in Directing are required to engage in supervised instructional experiences, including teaching a beginning undergraduate directing class. M.F.A. Directing students may also teach a variety of other courses and participate in the educational outreach program of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival.
The Graduate Directing Program at Illinois State University accepts two candidates each year who have demonstrated the potential to become professional directors. Successful candidates are passionate about their work, have a deep respect for text and storytelling, and are curious about the world around them.
Preference is given to mature individuals with well-developed personal aesthetics and demonstrated leadership abilities. Candidates who have recently matriculated from an undergraduate program are encouraged to gain additional professional experience before applying.
Application to Illinois State University may be made on-line using the Graduate Admission Application. Also, at the Graduate School web site, you will find information about required transcripts and fees that should accompany your application.
Prospective students must also apply to the School of Theatre and Dance for admission to the M.F.A. Directing Program. This can be done directly or through U/RTA. Candidates are asked to submit a resume, letter of intent, and statement of purpose, addressing why they make theater, professional and artistic goals, and appropriateness of training at this time. These written materials should be submitted, no later than January 1, directly to:
School of Theatre and Dance,
Campus Box 5700,
Normal, IL 61790-5700
Specific questions may be directed to Robert Quinlan, Head of the Directing Program.
Success for M.F.A. Directing Alumni
Graduates from the directing program at Illinois State University work in a wide range of academic and professional positions. M.F.A. directing alumni include:
- Gary Griffin – Associate Artistic Director of the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and director of The Color Purple on Broadway.
- Nancy Robillard – New York and regional theatre director.
- Stephen Alexander – Producing Artistic Director of the Painted Maniac Theatre in Portland, Oregon, and freelance director/composer/lyricist.
- Mace Archer – Chair of the Theatre Department at Randolph College and former Artistic Director of Venture Theatre in Bozeman, Montana.
- Eric Bramlett – Creative Arts Director at Community Christian Church in Naperville, Illinois.
- Steve Young – Assistant Professor at Texas Woman’s University and freelance director/writer/actor.
- Tricia McDermott – Artistic Director of Airmid Theatre Company in New York City.
- Deb Alley – former head of the M.F.A. Directing Program at Illinois State University and former Artistic Director of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival.
- Bill Osetek – Artistic Director at Drury Lane Theatre-Oakbrook in Chicago, Illinois.
- Rachel Chaves – Assistant Professor at Young Harris College and founder of Brasstown Repertory Theatre Company in Hiawassee, Georgia.
- Bill Jenkins – Chair of the Theatre Department at Ball State University and freelance director.
- Peter Sullivan – Artistic Director at Boho Theatre in Chicago, Illinois, and freelance director.
- Rebekah Scallet – Producing Artistic Director at the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre.
For more information about School of Theatre and Dance alumni please visit our Alumni page.