The art of theatre is a deep and far-reaching discipline that provides a humanistic approach to the world and its many cultures. Theatre wrestles, displays, and engages with the most compelling and complex issues of our time to invite new understanding, emotional enrichment, and promotion of the unique social experience of shared live performance. For the artists, it demands curiosity, invention, the courage to take artistic risks, a supportive community in which to grow, as well as practical innovation and the discipline required to succeed in any craft.
Through mastering skills and techniques, and acquaintance with performance traditions and theories, artists and students of the theatre seek inspiration from the vast canon of global performance to develop their own authentic original voices and visions that reflect the complexities, urgencies, gravity, and joy of our world, and that make them more engaged global citizens.
The School of Drama offers the following program of study:
Bachelor of Arts
Suggested First- and Second-Year College Courses: See department admission requirements below.
Department Admission Requirements
DRAMA 201 and DRAMA 251; one of the following: DRAMA 210, DRAMA 211, DRAMA 212, DRAMA 213; one of the following: DRAMA 290, DRAMA 291, DRAMA 292; and a minimum GPA of 2.50 for the four courses.
No audition is required to enter the program.
65-70 credits as follows:
All students must make satisfactory academic progress in the major. Failure to do so results in probation, which can lead to dismissal from the major. For the complete continuation policy, contact the departmental adviser or refer to the department website.
Student Outcomes and Opportunities
Graduate Program Coordinator
The School of Drama offers professional training and scholarly programs leading to the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees. Areas of study for the MFA degree are acting, stage direction, scene design, lighting design, and costume design. Most students should expect to spend three intensive years completing the requirements for the MFA degree.
The PhD program provides students with training for scholarly research in theatre history, dramatic literature, theory, and criticism. It also hosts the UW's Center for Performance Studies and connects students with related classes on campus.
Master of Fine Arts -- Acting
Admission is based on a private fifteen minute audition and interview with the head of the Professional Actor Training Program (PATP).
Applicants should prepare the following:
Students who hold (or will hold by the time they enroll) a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution may apply. Most applicants have undergraduate degrees in theatre, but it is not essential. All applicants must demonstrate outstanding talent to be admitted. The GRE is not required. International applicants must meet the minimum TOEFL and TSE scores and other requirements listed on the Graduate School's website (www.grad.washington.edu/admissions/index.shtml)
Applicants must submit the following to Graduate Programs, School of Drama, University of Washington, Box 353950, Seattle, WA 98195-3950:
The primary focus of PATP training is to provide actors with the practical tools and sensibilities to become outstanding theatre actors comfortable and effective in all media. During the three-year course of study, every student appears in at least seven productions, two self-written solo shows, an in-depth dialect project, and extensive scene and technique classes.
The program is structured to immerse students in the traditional vocabulary and practices set down by Konstantin Stanislavski and informed by the individual professional experiences of the faculty. The program is also designed to increase the actors' expressiveness through "instrument classes" in voice, speech, dialects, coordination (Alexander Technique), Viewpoints, and Suzuki-based movement. During the three years of study, students become well versed in the established canon of western dramatic literature.
Throughout the year PATP students have opportunities to audition for summer theatre festivals from around the region and country. The program also maintains productive relationships with professional theatres in Seattle and the region such as the Seattle Repertory Theatre, Intiman, Empty Space, ACT, Seattle Children's Theatre, The Guthrie Theatre, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
During the third year, classes and projects focus on career and business. At the end of the third year, students prepare a professional showcase for Seattle, Los Angeles, and New York, and each actor in the program leaves with a professional quality audition reel. All PATP students are evaluated by the acting faculty at the end of each quarter. Students are admitted with the expectation that all will graduate, although dismissal is possible given two unsatisfactory critiques.
Required coursework is 90 credits, to include:
Master of Fine Arts -- Directing
The program tends to choose candidates who show evidence of enterprising energy and accomplishment “out in the world,” who may have successfully assisted seasoned directors, and who have at least the beginning of a professional and artistic record. While there is always room for the exceptional applicant, it is extremely difficult to gain admission directly out of a BA program with no other credentials. This program accepts only two MFA candidates.
The directing program at the UW School of Drama is a three-year intensive, conservatory program designed to prepare students for successful entry into the professional theatre. Classes and training include work in a range of types and styles of dramatic work, including realistic, nonrealistic, classical, and contemporary plays. Directing lab, seminar, Suzuki, and Viewpoints are taken every quarter. Acting process work includes Stanislavski, action theory, Shakespeare, Chekhov, and contemporary realism.
Every quarter each student directs in the classroom, studio, or both. Plays are selected in conjunction with the faculty and the length and nature of the project is determined by each student's pedagogical needs at the time. On occasion directing students serve as assistant directors to members of the faculty and/or visiting artists during their time at the School of Drama.
In the second year, each student directs a workshop production of a full-length play in the School's subscription season. In both the first and second year, each director may also direct in the annual short play festival. In the third year, each student directs a fully produced, full-length play as a thesis in either the winter or spring quarter.
90 credits, to include the following:
Additional Coursework: After discussions with each student the faculty may advise additional coursework in such areas as Alexander technique, dialects, lighting design, combat, literature, or history of styles and costume.
All students are evaluated by all contact faculty each quarter.
Internships: One quarter of the program is devoted to a professional internship experience. MFA directors may intern either locally, nationally, or internationally during winter or spring quarter of the third year.
Master of Fine Arts -- Design
Applicants to the design program must submit a portfolio representative of their work and interview with design faculty. They may mail the portfolio to the School of Drama and interview with a faculty member on the phone or via video conferencing. It is always preferable for applicants to bring the portfolio with them and visit Seattle to interview with design faculty and sit in on graduate design classes. Other required application materials and fees are detailed below.
The program generally accepts two students in each area. While there is always room for the exceptional applicant, it is extremely difficult to gain admission directly out of a BA/BFA program with no other credentials.
Interviews: A personal interview is highly recommended, preferably in Seattle. Interviews are held in Seattle from mid-January to the beginning of March, with a limited number scheduled each week. Interviews are held when possible on Thursday afternoons and applicants are invited to visit classes Thursday morning. Applicants fill out the MFA design application form completely and indicate how and when they plan both to submit their portfolio and to interview with faculty. Applications must be received by the school before an interview is scheduled.
Portfolios: Portfolio materials need not be matted nor in a presentation case. The portfolio may include hand drafting, renderings, photographs of realized work or of models, costume sketches, and other graphic work or high-quality photocopies of same, blue lines and/or duplicate slides. Work should be presented in chronological order and should demonstrate strong graphic skills (including accurate rendering of the human figure) and the ability to devise effective design solutions to the problems posed by a script. It is particularly desirable for the portfolio to include examples of drawing or painting not intended as theatre design projects: figure drawing, landscape, architectural sketching or lighting, lighting installations, etc. Again, high quality photocopies are acceptable.
For lighting design applicants, the portfolio should include examples of hand or computer drafting, two or more complete projects including a one-page statement of conceptual approach, hook-up, plot, and cue ideas. It should also include samples of set sketches and life drawing.
Application Procedures: For questions about the application procedure, contact the School of Drama's graduate program assistant at (206)543-0714 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The GRE is not required for any applicant. International applicants must meet minimum TOEFL and TSE scores and other requirements as listed on the Graduate School's website (www.grad.washington.edu/admissions/index.shtml)
90 credits, to include:
The MFA program is three years in length. The first year is devoted primarily to studio course and skill building, while realized production designs become a focus of the second and third years. In the third year, students complete a ten-week professional internship before returning to the School of Drama for two quarters with a final thesis project occurring in either of those quarters. The program of study is intended to give the student the skills needed to work productively in his or her area of interest and to help the student develop his or her own individual artistic vision. The design studio is a core class taken each quarter by directors and design students in all disciplines where students are asked to create designs for works for the stage. Other studio and skills courses develop proficiency. Each course of study also requires students to work in the other design disciplines. In addition, professional designers and/or directors working in Seattle are often invited to attend classes and offer critiques or discuss their work, and students regularly assist faculty on outside projects. The costume shop, scene shop, electrics shop, design studio, and light lab are well equipped and staffed by full-time professional production staff.
Scenic Design: Through a rigorous succession of studio assignments and realized production work, students in scenic design are expected to develop proficiency of expression via drawing and painting, drafting, model building, scene painting, and a working knowledge of scenic and property construction. Production work is emphasized in the second and third years of residency.
Costume Design: Emphasizes the aesthetic as well as intellectual analysis of theatrical or operatic texts and how one turns these impulses into three-dimensional, unified designs. Students have intensive exposure to this process as they are mentored through the production of their designs as well as through classes, which encompass design, construction, graphic skills, and history. Production work in costume design is emphasized in the second and third year of residency.
Lighting Design: The lighting design program focuses on dramaturgical understanding, communication with collaborators, and a rigorous understanding of a lighting design process. The lighting curriculum emphasizes the development of both theoretical/thinking and practical/compositional skills. Production work in lighting may occur in the first year, but is emphasized in the second and third years,, and often includes dance.
Doctor of Philosophy
Preference is given to applicants with MA/MFA degrees and theatre experience but those who hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university are eligible to apply.
International applications must meet minimum TOEFL and TSE scores and other requirements as listed on the Graduate School's website, (www.grad.washington.edu/admissions/index.shtml)
Minimum 110 credits, to include:
Three years of coursework, including a sequence of 16 seminars (eight in history and eight in theory) and annual examinations. These linked courses provide complete preparation in the major issues of historical study and contemporary critical practice. Students also enroll in a minimum of three courses outside the School of Drama and must complete an upper-level reading course in a foreign language. Specific coursework includes DRAMA 571, DRAMA 572, DRAMA 573, DRAMA 575, DRAMA 576, DRAMA 577, DRAMA 581, DRAMA 582, DRAMA 583, DRAMA 585, DRAMA 586, and DRAMA 587, as well as 30 credits of DRAMA 800.
The PhD program hosts the UW's Center for Performance Studies and connects doctoral students with related classes on campus. The sequence of drama seminars reflects the changing needs of students, the developing research of the faculty, and the conditions of contemporary scholarship. Special topics in the history sequence have included Restoration theatre, drama in the Industrial Age, communism and capitalism, and ancient theatre history. Seminars in criticism have included reading, interpretation and performance; mimesis and theatrical representation; the semiotics of theatre; and drama and Marxist theatre theory. Students are encouraged to develop original research in these seminars and to present their work at professional meetings or publish it in academic journals.
The fourth year of the program is devoted to writing a dissertation under the guidance of a faculty adviser. Recent doctoral dissertations have explored semiotics, feminism, American theatre history, contemporary English and German drama, ethnicity, and performance theory.