Friday, November 24, 2017

Advice for Prospective Graduate Students: UNCG’s 2 year MFA

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is thrilled to unveil the newly redesigned MFA in Theatre for Youth. With the goal of getting graduates back into the field quickly, the program has been condensed from three years to two, maintaining the 60-hour degree structure.  Through an intense, focused curriculum, we maintain our concentration on directing plays for young audiences with a strong foundation in classroom drama.  Coursework includes a series of Directing classes, Drama in Education, Theatre in Education, Theatre Management, Playwriting, Studies in Acting, and Puppetry.  Several new courses emphasize the collaborative process by providing opportunities for students in the MFA in Acting, Directing, Design, and Theatre for Youth to work together in class settings.  New courses being offered include:  The Collaboration Course, Playwriting, and Trends in Theatre for Youth.  Courses that will now serve many of these populations simultaneously include:  Introduction to Graduate Studies, Theory and Criticism, Applied Play Directing, Advanced Play Directing, and Theatre Management.

From your first semester in the program, opportunities to develop your skills in practical ways abound.  As important as coursework is to any academic program, what is learned “in the trenches” is often just as important to a career in the theatre.   The Department of Theatre generously supports graduate students with assistantships, with the goal of providing students a wide range of valuable experiences during their two years: from serving as teaching assistants for undergraduate classes, to learning the ins and outs of the marketing and publicity arm of the theatre.  The Department currently produces a season of eight shows: four in our black box space, Brown Theatre, and four in our large proscenium space, Taylor Theatre.  The North Carolina Theatre for Young People, within the Department, produces one main stage show in the fall and a touring production in the spring.  Faculty directors are always open to working with graduate assistant directors, Theatre for Youth students are expected to be involved in the touring production, and the weekly Workshop series allows students the chance to challenge themselves as they direct or act in a piece of their choosing.  In addition, with the new program structure, candidates accepted into the program will be required to direct every semester during their two-year tenure at UNCG through Graduate Practicums.  The directing experience will culminate in a Master Production during the student’s last semester in the program.  This production will be performed for the general public as well as school groups from the surrounding counties.

Partial scholarships and professional development funds are available to enrolled students, helping them to attend events like the Southeastern Theatre Conference, the Bonderman Symposium, The Kennedy Center’s New Visions/New Voices, AATE, and TYA USA conferences.  The North Carolina Theatre for Young People has a long tradition of hosting visits from some of the foremost playwrights, publishers, and educators in the field of theatre for young audiences including: James Still, Suzan Zeder, Jim Hancock, Michael Keck, Sandy Asher, Moses Goldberg, Orlin Corey, Max Bush, Barry Kornhauser, Pat Forrest, Wesley Middleton, and Rafe Esquith. The Department of Theatre has hosted guest artists such as Romulus Linney, Paula Vogel, Suzan-Lori Parks, Tony Kushner, and Joan Darling.

We have developed a relationship with Triad Stage, a well-regarded regional professional theatre located in downtown Greensboro. Artistic Director Preston Lane serves as a faculty member in the Directing program.  As a graduate student in the Theatre for Youth program, you will be inspired by his passion and vast experience, and you will most certainly enjoy the hysterical stories from his years in the business. Assistant directing opportunities arise during Triad Stage’s season of main stage and cabaret space shows, and we encourage all students to attend their productions throughout the season.  For students interested in original scripts and adaptations, Triad Stage can offer unique opportunities to experience the development process as Preston has a long history of generating new works and adapting the classics.

The city of Greensboro with 260,000 residents is located approximately in the middle of the state, 2 1/2 hours from the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Atlantic coast.  Offering a rich combination of arts and culture while maintaining a very reasonable cost of living, Greensboro is an ideal location close to Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh, Winston-Salem, and Charlotte, NC. Residents are friendly, traffic is not a problem, and the diverse community, which includes four other colleges and universities, affords plenty of enriching activities: a vibrant downtown area (where parking is free on weekends and evenings!), arts festivals and lecture series, outdoor activities and a great system of parks and greenways, museums, farmers markets, and terrific pubs and bars.

We are excited about the changes we have made to the MFA in Theatre for Youth program and we encourage you to learn more about the program and the Department by visiting our website: http://performingarts.uncg.edu/theatre  or calling Rachel Briley, the Artistic Director of the Theatre for Youth program at 336-334-5575  (e mail:  r_briley@uncg.edu).  Our final interview date is scheduled for February 11, 2012.  Please contact Rachel if you are interested in interviewing for the program.

Annika Pfaender Purvis, a graduate of the Theatre for Youth program at UNCG

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