MFA – Design/Technology


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Building on a tradition for thoroughly training designers in professional standards and practices, students from the graduate program in Scenic Design regularly produce award-winning designs. Enrollment is kept intentionally low so that each student has the highly intensive and individualized attention that is the hallmark of the three-year mentorship program. A distinctive feature of the program is that students see their designs realized not only on the VCU mainstage but at other Richmond theatres as well.

The Scene Design MFA integrates extensive theoretical and practical training. Graduate design courses are structured to address the specific needs of developing the individual student’s skills and talents. This professional design training is grounded in traditional academic studies in theatre history, theory and criticism, and literature.

MFA in Theatre/Professional Studio: Scene Design & Costume Design

The MFA in Theatre/Professional Studio integrates extensive training in set and costume design, as well as lighting design, history of interior design or architecture and scene painting. Rendering and portfolio building, as well as computer drafting, with practicums and professional internships at local theatres complete the professional skills program. This professional design training is grounded in traditional academic studies in theatre history, theory and criticism, and literature. Second and third year students are expected to divide their time between the campus and other theatres.

Admission Requirements

In addition to the School of the Arts admission requirements, applicants in Professional Studio: Scene Design and Costume Design must have completed a minimum of 30 semester credits in theatre at the undergraduate level. Professional experience will be considered.

The applicant is required to present a portfolio of work for consideration as part of the admissions process. This portfolio should include representative work from studio studies as well as realized designs for production. Slides and photographs may be used. Examples of work demonstrating rendering techniques as well as scene painting (for scene designers) should be included.

Any questions regarding the portfolio presentation should be addressed to the Director of Graduate Studies/Theatre. In addition to the portfolio presentation, the applicant will arrange a personal interview with a committee of the faculty through the Director of Graduate Studies/Theatre.

Core Requirements

All candidates for the degree in Professional Studio: Scene Design must satisfy the following core requirements:
• Theatre History, Literature & Criticism 12 credits
• Topical Seminars 6 credits

Scene Design: Typical Program Pattern

Semester One

Scene Design, Scene Painting, Costume Design, or Lighting Design
Core Requirements
Practicum: Assignment at VCU or local theatres

Semester Two

Scene Design, Scene Painting, Costume Design, Lighting Design or Computer Drafting
Core Requirements
Practicum: Assignment at VCU or local theatres

Semester Three

Scene Design, Scene Painting, History of Interior Design or Architecture Directing
Core Requirements
Practicum: Can be accomplished at local theatres and may include qualifying project

Semester Four

Scene Design, Scene Painting, History of Interior Design or Architecture Computer Drafting
Core Requirements
Practicum: Can be accomplished at local theatres and may include qualifying project

Semester Five

Professional Internship (which may include thesis/project),
Scene Design
Core Requirements

Semester Six

Professional Internship (which may include thesis/project), Portfolio
Core Requirements
Practicum: Observation/mentoring
(Two 5-week observations of theatre faculty)
Production Assistant (either semester)

Costume Design: Typical Program Pattern

Semester One

Costume Design, Costume History, Technical Skills
Core Requirements
Practicum: Costume Design practicum

Semester Two

Costume Design, Costume History,Technical Skills
Core Requirements
Practicum: Costume Design practicum

Semester Three

Costume Design, Scene Painting, Scene Design
Core Requirements
Practicum: Costume Design practicum/internship
(may be qualifying project)

Semester Three

Costume Design, Scene Painting, Scene Design
Core Requirements
Practicum: Costume Scene Design practicum/internship
(may be qualifying project).

Semester Four

Costume Design, Scene Painting, Scene Design
Core Requirements
Practicum: Costume Scene Design practicum/internship
(may be qualifying project).

Semester Five

Professional Internship (which may include thesis/project)
Costume Design
Core Requirements
Practicum: Costume Design practicum/ internship.

Semester Six

Professional Internship (which may include thesis/project)
Lighting Design
Core Requirements
Practicum: Costume Scene Design practicum/internship