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The University of Texas at Austin's Master of Fine Arts in Playwriting is a vital and ascendant program situated in a vibrant and non-traditional theatre city. This acclaimed three-year program combines a rigorous immersion in the tactical craft of playwriting with a bold and aesthetically diverse embrace of collaborative theatre models.
In addition, the university offers the only M.F.A. in Playwriting program in the country to provide specific coursework, professional counseling and practical experience in the teaching of playwriting in both academic and community environments. The program aims to develop each step of the writer's process, from the initial conception of new work, through development and revision, to production and further professional growth.
Targeted courses in entrepreneurship, devised work, collaboration and advanced story-making for the stage provide the cornerstone of a program that seeks to incite and inspire the next generation of American theatre makers.
Drawing on the resources of both the prestigious Michener Center for Writersand the highly-ranked Department of Theatre and Dance, the program is committed to a professionally-mentored creative environment and a highly-engaged pedagogic reach. There are two ways for candidates to apply for admission as a playwright: through the Department of Theatre and Dance or Michener Center for Writers. Both programs share faculty and curriculum. Below is information on the M.F.A. in Playwriting in the Department of Theatre and Dance. Learn more about the Michener Center for Writers.
Graduate playwrights at the university have access to an unparalleled breadth and depth of production and play development resources, including the biennial Cohen New Works Festival; mainstage, workshop and lab seasons; ongoing professional development workshops; and annual premiere productions in UTNT (UT New Theatre). These opportunities are augmented with financial support, marketing assistance and professional mentorship to provide maximum exposure for each student's best work.
Students have access to world-class research centers such as the esteemed Harry Ransom Center Library, which houses the papers of many of the most acclaimed playwrights of the last century: Samuel Beckett, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Lillian Hellman, Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard, David Hare, David Mamet and others.
Recent guests include playwrights Annie Baker, Erik Ehn, Aditi Kapil, Sherry Kramer, Kevin Kling, Sarah Ruhl; directors Risa Brainin, Anne Kaufman, Ken Russ Schmoll, Pirronne Yousefzadeh and artistic leaders Sarah Benson (Soho Rep), Jeremy Cohen (The Playwrights' Center), Lue Douthit (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Maria Goyanes (Public Theater), Adam Greenfield (Playwrights Horizons), Aimee Hayes (Southern Rep), Meredith McDonough (Actors Theater of Louisville), Joy Meads (Center Theatre Group), Tanya Palmer (The Goodman theatre) and Maria Striar (Clubbed Thumb).
Two candidates are admitted each year from an intensely competitive group of applicants.
Courses can be selected from the wide array of topics offered within the Department of Theatre and Dance including directing, dramaturgy, design, critical theory, history, performance ethnography and movement. Electives outside the department, either in conjunction with the Michener Center for Writers, or in areas such as film, television and literature are recommended.
Playwrights will focus on the generation and revision of new work. Numerous opportunities to share this work will be provided in the classroom, in public readings, through dramaturgical experiments in developmental workshops and multidisciplinary collaboration. Courses include Playwriting Workshops, Narrative Strategies: Time and Adaptation, and Devising.
Playwrights continue to generate and revise new work with an additional emphasis placed on professional development. To that end, an intensive workshop is provided for each student featuring an acclaimed guest director, dramaturg or playwright. Recent guests have included Jesse Alick (The Public Theater), Jeremy Cohen (The Playwrights' Center), Adam Greenfield (Playwrights Horizons), Joy Meads (Center Theatre Group) and Tanya Palmer (The Goodman). Courses include New Play Dramaturgy, Entrepreneurship in the Performing Arts, Pedagogy for Writing and Performance, Advanced Collaboration Workshop, among others.
Playwrights will further explore and deepen their work, generally within the context of a production. As it is our program's position that guaranteed "mainstage" productions within an academic setting do not always prepare playwrights for the professional arena, we attempt to fit the scale of the production to the needs of the given script. It is the faculty's express aim to support each playwright in securing the most beneficial production opportunity within the university, or, when appropriate, in the local professional community. As a result, there are more opportunities for the production of student work at The University of Texas than at any other program in the nation. By the third year, students are encouraged to explore electives beyond the core curriculum, which includes coursework in Directing, Screenwriting, Design, Integrated Media, Reading/Performing the Canon, Digital Storytelling and Plays for All.
Throughout the program, students are introduced to the strategies and pedagogy necessary to successfully teach undergraduate and graduate courses in the creation of new work for the stage.
During the summer, the program regularly facilitates our students' participation in professional development opportunities around the country, including, but not limited to, guest residencies at the Clubbed Thumb (New York), Contemporary Theatre Festival (West Virginia), New Harmoney (Indiana), Orchard Project (New York), PlayPenn (Pennsylvania), Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Tofte Lake Center (Minnesota).
The M.F.A. in Playwriting Program in the Department of Theatre and Dance at The University of Texas at Austin recruits two students from an intensely competitive group of applicants. Talent and achievement as a theatre artist as demonstrated in writing samples and professional production experience, recommendations from theatre professionals and a clearly worded statement of purpose are the primary criteria for admission.
Finalists will be selected for an interview. No formal interviews will take place before the selection of finalists.
To apply, go to ApplyTexas.org, create an account and fill out the form. Note: Online requests for recommendations will be activated only after you have completed and paid for your application.
You will be able to choose your Area of Interest on a pull down menu. This will ensure that you are applying to the correct program. For example, “M.F.A. in Playwriting,” “M.F.A. in Lighting Design,” etc.
After completing and paying for your application you will be sent an email (within approximately 48 hours). This email will direct you to a sitewhere you can check your Application Status (using your new EID) and begin to upload your application requirements.
- Official Transcripts: Applicants must submit transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Online instructions for uploading transcripts (PDF format only).
- GRE Score: The GRE is required for admission to the M.F.A. in Playwriting program. The University of Texas at Austin Institution Code is 6882. For more information, please visit www.ets.org
- Three letters of recommendation: These letters should be written by those who can speak most authoritatively about your background, training, professional experience and potential for a career in your chosen area of specialization in theatre. Each reference will receive instructions on how to submit his/her letter online to the Graduate School's secured web site. Only one letter is required from each reference.
- Professional Résumé
- Statement of Purpose: This two-page statement purpose should outline educational and professional goals, philosophy and/or personal theatre aesthetic.
- Two original and complete plays which show the range and depth of your capabilities. No collaborations or adaptations unless your contributions are clearly and specifically demonstrated. One of the works must be a "full length" play, in that it should stand alone as a significant theatre experience. One of your submitted plays may be a short play, but please no ten-minute plays, sketches or revue material. Each play must be substantial and complete work. No incomplete plays will be accepted. Submit scripts in PDF format only. Résumé, statement of purpose, play scripts and other materials should be submitted online at the Document Upload System.