The program re-draws the lines of artistic ownership in theatre and overturns the traditional norms and power structures embodied by the current regional theatre model. Instead of working with pre-established texts, the program advocates creativity as dialogue rather than monologue; actors and directors working together in an improvisational framework in order to create characters and plays wholly "owned" by creative ensembles. Instead of building new work around the written word, the program focuses intensively on the body and a physical approach to creating characters and theatrical ideas. Leveraging a variety of disciplines and focusing on Lecoq pedagogy, the curriculum offers several channels of explorations each week structured on the three main arteries of physical theatre: movement, improvisation, and ensemble creation.
Both MFA and Certificate students are in studio class between 4 and 8 hours daily, pursuing courses that are designed to train the total theatre artist. Throughout each of the semesters, students work collaboratively on projects, practicing theatre-making with their peers for faculty evaluation. The second year features several public performances. Both Programs culminate in presentations of original student-created work. MFA students continue for an additional semester to complete courses in teaching and pedagogy, as well as a teaching practicum.
Physical Theater Foundations
Students train their bodies each day through courses on acrobatics/gymnastics, movement analysis, dance and movement improvisation, movement composition, and core training.
Students work on a variety of themes, some lasting a week, some lasting up to a month. The work involves daily improvisation to train the performers to trust the impulses that arrive in the midst of performing. The body and mind collaborate to learn how to be a actor-writer.
Each week students work in collaborative teams to develop original pieces based around specific themes/prompts. This is a chance for the students to answer the artistic and technical questions for themselves, working through the myriad problems the themes present. Students present their completed creations every Friday for faculty feedback and evaluation. Some weekly works are further prepared for public presentation, requiring the pieces to function theatrically from start to finish, and to be of the highest artistic quality.