Theater

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The Department of Theater is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Theatre, 11250 Roger Bacon Drive, Suite 21, Reston, Virginia 20190.

The Department of Theater blends scholarship and practice in an academically based theater experience that provides students with broad based exposure to human experience and a sound foundation in the skills of theater craft. Class work in all areas of theater is complemented by a production program that reinforces both scholarship and practice, creating work that is as imaginative and highly polished as possible. Graduates will be able to apply their knowledge of performance, production, theater history, contemporary practice, literature and theory in a wide variety of theater venues. Graduates will also be able to demonstrate intrapersonal and interpersonal skills in the form of leadership qualities, self-discipline, creative expression, critical thinking, and the ability to work effectively as a part of a collaborative team. The development and guidance of talent and discipline, both characteristic of the artist/scholar, are the goals of the Department of Theater.

The Department of Theater maintains two theaters for public productions: the McLeod Theater, a proscenium stage seating approximately 500, and the Christian H. Moe Laboratory Theater, a flexible stage seating up to 110. The playbill typically encompasses a balance of contemporary, classic, and original works, and offers seven productions including a musical and an opera during the academic year (the latter co-produced with the School of Music). The summer season, McLeod Summer Playhouse, consists of three productions operating as a professional summer stock company, offering stipends and/or graduate credit.

The Department of Theater offers a graduate program of study leading to a Master of Fine Arts degree in theater. An interdisciplinary doctoral study in theater is sponsored by the Department of Communication Studies.

Admissions

To apply, students must fill out the online application for Admission to Graduate Study in Theater (gradschool.siu.edu). Applicants for graduate studies in theater must satisfy the minimum requirements of the Graduate School before being admitted to the department. The application includes a statement of purpose, transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate coursework together with three (3) letters of recommendation from former teachers or supervisors. There is a $65 nonrefundable application fee payable online.

There are additional requirements established by each of the areas of study in the M.F.A. Program. Applicants in the directing area are required to submit materials that are representative of their previous theater work and/or indicate an aptitude for stage direction (including promptbooks, programs, reviews, photos, video tapes or casebooks from previous directing efforts). Prospective directing students are also required to attend an on-campus interview and audition. At this time, each applicant will work with actors on a directing scene to demonstrate their ability to analyze the scene and work with actors. Applicants in the costume, lighting, scene design and technical direction areas are required to submit portfolio samples of their work. Applicants in the playwriting area must submit approximately two to two-an-a-half hours of written material consisting of one full-length play and/or several significant short pieces. These materials should be sent directly to the Director of Graduate Studies at the address below.

Although an undergraduate major in theater is not essential for admission to a graduate degree program in theater, the director of graduate studies may require that certain course deficiencies in undergraduate subject areas be remedied. These requirements are stated in writing on the admissions approval form.

More detailed information about these requirements is obtainable from: Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Theater, Mail Code 6608, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, IL  62901, 618-453-5741.

Financial Assistance

There are several kinds of financial assistance available to graduate students in the Department of Theater. First, there are graduate fellowships awarded on the basis of superior scholarship. Second, special fellowships are offered annually to students who show promise of success in graduate studies although their academic records have been only average due to economic disadvantages. The fellowships have no service requirements. Third, graduate assistantships with competitive stipends are available to students are employed in various academic support positions, such as teaching, research, and production, such as teaching, research, and production. All fellowships and assistantships include a waiver of tuition (both in-state and out-of-state). Applications for financial assistance may be obtained by contacting the director of graduate studies.

The Master of Fine Arts Degree Program

The Master of Fine Arts degree program in theater emphasizes practical expertise in one of the following areas: directing, playwriting, costume design, lighting design, scene design and technical direction. The department encourages interdisciplinary study in related fields including performance studies, dramatic literature, dramaturgy, musical theater and opera. In most instances, a three-year residency is required of all M.F.A students.

By March of their first year of study, each student will undergo a review of his/her progress in the program. The criteria by which each area will make its evaluations are to be found described in detail in the Theater MFA handbook, in the appropriate section dealing with the area's specific requirements. The faculty can elect from the following actions: 1. Suggest areas the student needs to work on before he/she is allowed to proceed to the Qualifier/Thesis project. 2. Move the student along to the Qualifier/Thesis project. 3. Require the student to attend a 2nd Year Review. 4. Dismiss the student from the M.F.A. program.

All M.F.A. students must complete a minimum of 60 semester hours of course work, including the M.F.A. degree core requirements, and witha  minimum of 30 hours at the 500 level:

  • THEA 500   Theater Research Methods, 3 hours
  • THEA 501   Contemporary Developments, 3 hours
  • THEA 599   Thesis, 6 hours

    Total M.F.A. Core: 12 hours

In addition, each area of study has specific area and elective requirements, which are as follows.

Directing

  • M.F.A. core, 12 hours
  • THEA 401A   Stage Management, 2 hours
  • THEA 401B   Stage Management Lab, 1 hour
  • THEA 402     Directing Studio, 3 hours
  • THEA 417     Advanced Acting, 3 hours
  • THEA 502     Advanced Directing Studio, 9 hours
  • THEA 504A   Drama, Theories & Conventions, 3 hours
  • THEA 504B   Drama, Theories & Conventions, 3 hours
  • THEA 511A   Playwriting I, 3 hours
  • THEA 520A   Period Style for Theater I, 3 hours
  • THEA 520B   Period Style for Theater II, 3 hours
  • Design Classes (select 2 of 3), 6 hours
    •     THEA 407     Scene Design
    •     THEA 414     Costume Design
    •     THEA 418     Lighting Design
  •     Electives (by advisement), 9 hours 
     Total: 60 hours

Costume Design

  • M.F.A. core, 12 hours
  • THEA 414    Costume Design, 3 hours
  • Design & Production Classes (select 2 of 3), 6 hours
    • THEA 407    Scene Design
    • THEA 418    Lighting Design
    • THEA 419    Technical Direction
  • THEA 510    Production Design Seminar, 6 hours (to be taken every semester in residence)
  • THEA 516    Advanced Theater Design & Production, 2-8 hours
  • THEA 412    Patterning & Draping for the Theater, 2 hours
  • THEA 413    Drafting for the Theater, 3 hours
  • THEA 415A/THEA 415B   Costume Crafts I & II, 2-4 hours (each section may be taken twice)
  • THEA 512     Advanced Costume Construction, 2-8 hours (may be taken 4 times)
  • THEA 520A   Period Style for Theater I, 3 hours
  • THEA 520B   Period Style for Theater II, 3 hours
  • Electives (by advisement), 8 hours
     Total: 60 hours

Lighting Design

  • M.F.A. core, 12 hours
  • THEA 418   Lighting Design, 3 hours
  • Design & Production Classes (select 2 of 3), 6 hours
    • THEA 407   Scene Design
    • THEA 414   Costume Design
    • THEA 419   Technical Direction
  • THEA 510   Production Design Seminar, 6 hours (to be taken every semester in residence)
  • THEA 516   Advanced Theater Design & Production, 2-8 hours (may be taken 4 semesters)
  • THEA 520A  Period Style for Theater I, 3 hours
  • THEA 520B  Period Style for Theater II, 3 hours
  • Electives (by advisement), 19 hours   
     Total: 60 hours

Scene Design

  • M.F.A. core, 12 hours
  • THEA 418   Lighting Design, 3 hours
  • Design & Production Classes (select 2 of 3), 6 hours
    • THEA 407   Scene Design
    • THEA 414   Costume Design
    • THEA 419   Technical Direction
  • THEA 510   Production Design Seminar, 6 hours (to be taken every semester in residence)
  • THEA 516   Advanced Theater Design & Production, 2-8 hours (may be taken 4 semesters)
  • THEA 520A  Period Style for Theater I, 3 hours
  • THEA 520B  Period Style for Theater II, 3 hours
  • Electives (by advisement), 19 hours
     Total: 60 hours

Technical Direction

  • M.F.A. core, 12 hours
  • THEA 419   Technical Direction, 3 hours
  • Design & Production Classes (select 2 of 3), 6 hours
    • THEA 407   Scene Design
    • THEA 414   Costume Design
    • THEA 418   Lighting Design
  • THEA 510   Production Design Seminar, 6 hours (to be taken every semester in residence)
  • THEA 516   Advanced Theater Design & Production, 2-8 hours (may be taken 4 semesters)
  • THEA 520A  Period Style for Theater I (3 hours)
  • THEA 510B  Period Style for Theater II (3 hours)
  • Electives (by advisement), 19 hours
     Total: 60 hours

Playwriting

  • M.F.A. core, 12 hours
  • 400- or 500-level Theater History courses by advisement, 6 hours
  • THEA 500   Theater Research Methods, 3 hours
  • THEA 501   Contemporary Developments, 3 hours
  • THEA 503   The New Play Workshop, 18 hours
  • THEA 504A  Drama Theories and Conventions, 3 hours
  • THEA 504B  Drama Theories and Conventions, 3 hours
  • THEA 511A  Playwriting I, 3 hours
  • THEA 511B  Playwriting II, 3 hours
  • THEA 599   Thesis, 6 hours
  • Electives (by advisements), 12 hours
     Total: 60 hours

Projects: Collaborative Short Play Evenings/Workshop Production of full length in Festival/Thesis

*Any two of these Theater History courses must be taken in year 1 or 2 by advisement:

  • THEA 450   Topical Seminar
  • THEA 454   American Theater
  • THEA 460   Black Theater
  • THEA 525   Contemporary Experiments in Drama
  • THEA 550   Topical Seminar may apply depending on the topic (may be repeated)

Certain other Theater, English or Communication Studies courses may apply with permission.

**THEA 402 (Directing Studio) must be taken in the first two years unless playwrights already have directing experience.

Suggested Electives:

  • THEA 455   Dramaturgy
  • THEA 502   Advanced Directing Studio
  • ENGL 492A  Creative Writing Fiction
  • ENGL 492B  Creative Writing Poetry
  • ENGL 492C  Creative Writing Literary Non-Fiction
  • ENGL 592   Creative Writing Seminar
  • Dramatic writing not already taken to satisfy requirements (film, TV, performance studies)
  • Theater History courses not already taken to satisfy requirements

Besides the core requirements, the students will propose and successfully complete a project to qualify for further study in their chosen area. This project will include a research component in conjunction with a realized practical project.

Thesis requirements vary for each area of study; however, they include a research component as well as a description and evaluation of the student's creative project. In concert with the student's committee, the candidate may choose to separate the two, submitting an approved research paper during the first academic year and a creative thesis after completion of the M.F.A. final project.

The Department of Theater requires an oral examination, conducted by the student's thesis committee, for each M.F.A. candidate. The examination covers the thesis or dissertation, and may include questions designed to ascertain the student's general competence in theater.

Doctor of Philosophy Degree

The Department of Theater offers a program of study in Theater History and Playwriting under the administration of the Department of Communication Studies leading to a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Communication Studies.

Admission

To apply student must fill out the online application for Admission to Graduate Study in Communication Studies (gradshool.siu.edu). Applicants for graduate studies in theater must satisfy the minimum requirements of the Graduate School before being admitted to the department. The application includes a statement of purpose, transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate coursework together with three (3) letters of recommendation from former teachers or supervisors.

There is a $65 nonrefundable application fee payable on-line or by check made out to SIU.

Additionally, prospective students must submit materials that are representative of their previous theater work and/or indicate an aptitude for work in their chosen field of study. Applicants to Theater History must include several critical research essays. Applicants to the playwriting area must submit approximately two- to two-and-a-half hours of written material consisting of one full-length play and/or several significant short pieces. All prospective students should include a sample of their research writing. Video tapes/DVDs or websites are acceptable digital materials.

More information for prospective and current students is available at the Department of Theater website (theater.siu.edu) and the Department of Communication Studies (communicationstudies.siu.edu).

A student must take 51 semester credit hours of course work beyond the master's degree, 24 hours of which must be in Theater, 18 hours in Communication Studies, and nine hours methodology (tool) courses. In addition 24 semester credit hours of dissertation work are required for the Ph.D. degree. Course work outside the department must be germane to one of the departmental curriculum areas for the purposes of examination and dissertation research. Throughout the program of study, the student must maintain a 3.00 grade point average in all work taken. If the grade point average drops below the minimum, the student is placed on academic warning for the following two semesters. During the last half of the second semester of course work, the student's progress shall be reviewed by the advisory committee to determine continuation, change, or termination of the program. The advisory committee for each student shall be responsible for assembling the necessary information (grades, recommendations, progress in curriculum areas, etc.) for consideration in reaching the above decision.

Advisory Committee

A three (3) person advisory committee shall be established no later than the beginning of the second semester of graduate study to plan the program of study with each student. The chair of the committee shall act as the primary adviser and sign the graduate course request form. This advisory committee is responsible for certifying to the graduate director that the student has met all departmental requirements for admission to candidacy and has passed the Ph.D. preliminary examination.

Students selecting Theater as a curriculum concentration must take the following:

  • Communication Studies Theater Concentration, 18 hours (must include):
    • CMST 501   Introduction to Communication Research, 3 hours
    • CMST 510   Rhetoric Theory Seminar, 3 hours
  • Theater 24 hours (must include):
    • THEA 501   Contemporary Developments, 3 hours
    • THEA 504A  Drama Theories and Conventions, 3 hours
    • THEA 504B  Drama Theories and Conventions, 3 hours
  • Dissertation, 24 hours

Total 75 hours

Preliminary Examination

The student must pass a preliminary examination on his/her program of study. The preparation and administration of the examination are determined by the advisory committee in consultation with the student. The examination is taken at the end of the course work.

Dissertation

Each student must register for at least 24 semester hours of dissertation credit in THEA 600. The dissertation director shall, upon consultation with the student, be responsible for setting up a dissertation committee, supervising the dissertation, and administering the final oral examination. The dissertation committee shall approve the dissertation prospectus and pass upon the completed dissertation and oral examination.

The Graduate School requires students who have not completed their dissertation to enroll in THEA 601 Continuing Enrollment until they complete the dissertation or withdraw from the program. Students who do not register for this class will be charged for all semesters before they may graduate.

Students are required to submit an electronic copy of the dissertation to the Graduate School and one bound copy to the Department of Theater.