Lisa D'AmourPlaywright Lisa D'Amour works with MFA Playwriting students (Spring 2017)
 

Master of Fine Arts in Theatre: Playwriting

Creating Connections

The ultimate artisans of theatre, playwrights remind us where society has been and—more importantly—where it's headed. Our goal at the U of A is to provide M.F.A. playwriting candidates the opportunity to grow and amplify their artistic voice by equipping them with the skills and space to become confident theatrical storytellers and bold dealers in personal truth.


About the Program

M.F.A. playwrights learn by doing, and participate in a series of rigorous writing workshops on a variety of topics designed to expand and challenge their theatrical imaginations while building foundational knowledge in dramatic form and structure.

We aim to give writers equal space to focus on the playwright’s personal process, as they reach toward embracing a fearless form of personal expression—one rooted in deep personal investment while engaging with the larger cultural dialogue their work challenges and confronts. 

PRIORITY DEADLINE FOR ALL APPLICATIONS TO THE PLAYWRITING AREA IS FEBRUARY 1, 2019 

The Department of Theatre seeks one to two M.F.A. Playwrights for admission to our program beginning Fall 2019. Applications will be accepted until the positions are filled, with priority given to students who apply by February 1, 2019.  If you have questions, please contact John Walch, Head of Playwriting area @ jswalch@uark.edu.

The application and admission into the program is a two-part process.

STEP ONE

  • First, all applicants must apply directly to the Department of Theatre through our Graduate Application Portal below.
  • Before applying, please familiarize yourself with the admission requirements. You can see these requirements by clicking the “more” link beside each area on the Application Portal.
  • Please note: there is no application fee for the first step of our application process.
  • The GRE Test is not required for admission to the M.F.A. Program in Theatre.

Click HERE to visit the Department of Theatre Graduate Application Portal.
            

STEP TWO

  • You should not proceed to Step Two or apply for admission to the UA Graduate School until you receive notification from the M.F.A. Theatre program to do so.
  • After departmental review, qualified applicants will be invited to apply to the University of Arkansas Graduate School for formal admission to the University. Please note, the deadline for Step Two will be determined by and communicated to you by the area head after the departmental review.

We offer graduate assistantships*, fellowships, and teaching opportunities.

Our assistantships pay for all tuition and give an $12,200 stipend each academic year. Additional funds are available through our graduate fellowship, which offers an additional $4000 each year to qualified students. There are some other select scholarships for which you might be eligible, as well. Summer assistantships are also sometimes available.

  • All new graduate assistants must have background checks before they can be appointed.  We will be permitted to make offers contingent on a successful background check, but no work can begin until the check is complete. 
  • Playwriting M.F.A. candidates will serve as teaching assistants as part of their assistantship duties. Other duties will be assigned as needed.

We offer a comprehensive three-year degree covering all aspects of dramatic writing—from short- and long-form structures, and special topics in adaptationtelevision/screenwriting, Theatre for Young Audiences, and writing for the solo-performer. Additional courses in dramatic form and structure unlock  strategies other writers have used in creating work, and develop the dramaturgical skills to articulate how a variety of plays function and create theatrical meaning.  The program is intentionally intimate, only two or three playwrights are accepted into the program every other year, allowing for intensive individualized mentorship, as well as the flexibility to let writers shape their course of study to meet their own creative goals and ambitions. 

The theatre faculty shares a philosophy that is deeply collaborative, with cross-disciplinary classes that regularly generate new work – both individual and group-centered. If you pursue an MFA in playwriting at the University of Arkansas, you will join an intimate community of theatre artists who are at once mutually supportive and passionately devoted to craft. Playwrights are also encouraged to take acting, directing and design classes and to diversify their artistic palettes by taking poetry and fiction workshops offered by the U of A's renowned Creative Writing Program, along with a rich array of related courses in the arts.

Students are given multiple opportunities to practice the process of building a new play from conception to completion, working peer-to-peer with fellow collaborators including: directors, actors, and designers.  This process is repeated throughout the writer’s three-year course of study at varying levels, from concert- and staged-readings through to a full production in their thesis year as a part of the ArkType New Works Festival, presented in our newly renovated theatre @ Global Campus.

As a part of their assistantships, playwrights serve as administrators on the Kernodle New Play Award and are given additional opportunities to serve as dramaturges on departmental productions. These experiences develop the playwright’s skill-set in Literary Management and—more critically—provide opportunities for deeper investigation into how other writers create theatrical meaning.

While our core focus is on preparing playwrights for a professional career in the field, opportunities can and have been created for playwriting candidates who express an interest in developing the tools and skills to teach. Because of our small size, we are nimble enough to create TA opportunities, in-classroom opportunities, and full classes for those candidates who want to gain teaching experience.

Writing workshops thrive on the creative tension between rigorous attention to dramatic structure and an equally rigorous focus on each writer's unique voice. Our graduate playwriting faculty includes active playwrights, John Walch and Les Wade, who see to it that student writers get multiple perspectives on their work. Additionally, the department is committed to bringing in guest playwrights to give further perspective. Recent guests have included playwrights Lisa D’Amour, Dael Orlandersmith, Idris Goodwin, Emily Schwend/Theatre for One, and Amy Evans. Our students also take ala carte workshops with TheatreSquared visiting playwrights, who recently have included Stephen Karam, Mona Monsour and Robert Schenkkan.

Our faculty seeks to prepare our students for the unknowns of the professional world, by making them confident in the power of their voice, while being capable to articulate their vision, triage critical feedback, and effectively improvise with collaborators.

As part of their training, playwrights are encouraged to pursue internships with literary departments and/or new play festivals at theatres around the country, including in the Arkansas New Play Festival at TheatreSquared, which the American Theatre Wing recognized as one of the ten most promising emerging theatres in the country. Graduate playwrights also participate in the administration of the newly revamped Kernodle New Play Award.

Nestled in the beautiful foothills of the Ozark Mountains, Fayetteville and its Northwest Arkansas environs are fast becoming a cultural destination. The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, only adds to the area's already rich cultural legacy and has announced plans to open a new space for contemporary performance and art. Dazzling architecture and abundant live music, together with the area's natural beauty and congenial urban environment, make for an atmosphere that is the highly conducive to writing.

Fayetteville is home to an unusually high number of successful poets and fiction writers, many of whom are or have been associated with the University's renowned MFA program in creative writing, one of the oldest in the country. With its many restaurants and cafés and its tradition of live music, Fayetteville is often referred to as Austin's younger cousin.


Sample Plan of Study

Fall Semester

  • Playwriting Workshop: Playwriting
  • Form and Structure: Classic
  • Acting/Directing/Design Elective
  • Dramatic Theory/History
  • Presentation: One-Act or 10 Minute Play


Spring Semester

  • Playwriting Workshop: Adaptation
  • Interdisciplinary Elective
  • Acting/Directing/Design Elective
  • Presentation: Readings of Full-Length Play

Summer

  • Optional: Internship/Independent Study

Fall Semester

  • Playwriting Workshop: Playwriting
  • Form and Structure: Conteporary
  • Presentation: Solo Shows


Spring Semester

  • Playwriting Workshop: Social Justice or TYA
  • Interdisciplinary Elective
  • Acting/Directing/Design Elective
  • Collaboration/Devising
  • Presentation: Workshop Productions of Full-Length Play

 Fall Semester

  • Playwriting Workshop: TV/Film or TYA
  • Interdisciplinary Elective
  • Thesis
  • Presentation: Production of Thesis Play


Spring Semester

  • Playwriting Workshop: Comedy
  • Portfolio Development
  • Thesis
  • Presentation: Production of Thesis Play


Application Portal