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MFA Program
Theatre

PROGRAM OF STUDY

The Moravian College Master of Arts in Performance Creation degree consists of 60 credit hours over two years—Fall, Spring and Summer—for a year-round academic program.

This program is designed to promote creative self-discovery. Students chart their own path, through the creation of multiple performances--solo, ensemble, site-specific, community-based, international--and chronicle it as they develop their individual artistic voice. This ongoing reflection will lead to artist graduates equipped with the knowledge of their personal creative needs and productivity patterns, along with a developed understanding of how their work fits into the ever-broadening world of Performance Studies.

As an immersive two-year experience imbedded in a professional ensemble theatre, students will learn performance creation skills, devising practices, approaches to solo and ensemble creation as well as site-specific and community-based work, performance theory, and the logistics of an international tour. (Cost of international travel is INCLUDED in tuition.)

In their careers, most artists are challenged to do more than just “create art.” To prepare them for that, the program provides hand-on experience in fundraising, marketing, curriculum development and classroom teaching, and the production side of performance creation.

These various learning opportunities take place in the context of students’ two-year residency with Touchstone Theatre--a 40 year old mission-driven ensemble of practicing artists who know the craft from daily engagement with their own brand of socially engaged performance creation. Interested students will have the option to specialize in community-based work, for which Touchstone Theatre has received international acclaim.

Curriculum

Year One (32 credits)

Year-long learning

PERF 511 Arts in Education: Navigating the Classroom (2 credits)
PERF 581 Internship: The Business and Operations of Nonprofits (3 credits)

1st Fall (9 credits)

PERF 501-502 Topics in Performance Creation Techniques (1/2 credit, repeated 2 times this semester for 1 credit total)
PERF 521 In the Studio: Devising Practices (4 credits)
PERF 531 Research and Theory (3 credits)
PERF 551 Topics in Site-Specific and Community-Based Performance (1 credit)

1st Spring (11 credits)

PERF 501-502 Topics in Performance Creation Techniques (1/2 credit, repeated 2 times this semester for 1 credits total)
PERF 532 Culture and Identity in Performance (3 credits)
PERF 541 Creation 1 (Ensemble) (3 credits)
PERF 542 Creation 2 (Solo) (3 credits)
PERF 551 Topics in Site-Specific and Community-Based Performance (1 credit)

1st Summer (7 credits)

PERF 512 Arts in Education: Summer Intensives (3 credits)
PERF 561 International Festival Experience: In the Audience and on the Stage (3 credits)
PERF 551 Topics in Site-Specific and Community-Based Performance (1 credit)

 

Year Two (28 credits)

Year-long learning

PERF 513 Arts in Education: Classroom Leadership (2 credits)
PERF 582 Internship: Arts Administration (3 credits)

2nd Fall (9 credits)

PERF 501-502 Topics in Performance Creation Techniques (1/2 credit, repeated 2 times this semester for 1 credit total)
PERF 522 In the Studio: Leadership (4 credits)
PERF 543 Creation 3 (Site/Community) (3 credits)
PERF 551 Topics in Site-Specific and Community-Based Performance3 (1 credit)

2nd Spring (8 credits)

PERF 501-502 Topics in Performance Creation Techniques (1/2 credit, repeated 2 times this semester for 1 credits total)
PERF 571 Thesis Project (6 credits)
PERF 551 Topics in Site-Specific and Community-Based Performance (1 credit)

2nd Summer (6 credits)

PERF 572 Thesis (5 credits)
PERF 551 Topics in Site-Specific and Community-Based Performance (1 credit)


Progression Requirements:

  • Successful completion of each semester is required for progression to each new semester.
  • Due to the nature of ensemble-based creation, students should not expect to be able to take a leave of absence and continue from where they stopped. They must progress through all cohort-based activities with a single cohort.

Courses

501-­502. Topics in Performance Creation Techniques (1/2 credit, repeated two times per semester for four semesters, for 4 credits total) Modules are taught by a variety of artists in their area of expertise. Content changes to focus on a different performance creation technique with each iteration. Through the series, students will build an expansive vocabulary of performance creation techniques that can be employed in the studio as a means of generating material and problem solving. Emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of performance creation, this series provides students with a broad swath of conceptual, technical and practical creative methodologies. Although the artists leading the modules, and the techniques explored, will be diverse, each module will include: Analysis of the artists’ work and/or technique in the context of culture and society; Discussion of the work in terms of performance theory; Demonstration of techniques by the guest artists; Synthesis of theory and practice through hands­ on workshop introducing students to the techniques; Demonstration of new techniques by students; Reflection of impact/integration of technique into students’ artistic practice. Fall, Spring.

511. Arts in Education: Navigating the Classroom (2 Credits) This course will introduce students to work in the arts-­in-­education classroom. The initial phase of the course employs a workshop format in which students learn the principles and techniques exemplified in Touchstone Theatre’s award­-winning education programming. Then students move into a fieldwork phase during which they assist lead teaching artists in two real­ world classrooms, as part of Touchstone’s “Young Playwrights Lab” in the Bethlehem Area Public School system. There they will observe and practice the teaching methodologies and classroom control skills demonstrated by lead teachers. Concurrent with their fieldwork placements in the classroom, students will meet to complete post­-session reviews and participate in group seminars to discuss challenges, review pedagogy, and frame the hands ­on work within an academic context including the reading and discussion of texts. Clearances and other documents for fieldwork required. Year long.

512. Arts in Education: Summer Intensives (3 Credits) This course introduces students to the summer camp as an arts in education venue. Working alongside veteran teaching artists, students will conceive of and implement a themed pedagogical approach for two two­-week summer camps. Students will be responsible for developing creative classroom exercises that will lead to a final public showing of what the camp attendees have accomplished over its duration. Prerequisite: PERF 511. Clearances and other documents for fieldwork required. Summer.

513. Arts in Education: Classroom Leadership (2 credits) In this course, second year students take on leadership roles during fieldwork placements in the arts­-in-­education classroom, serving as lead teaching artists for two residencies and as a primary contact with the schools. With Touchstone’s predefined pedagogical system as a base, and with oversight by Touchstone’s Education Director, students will be responsible for the planning and real ­time decisions necessary for the unique needs of each classroom. Concurrent with their fieldwork placements in the classroom, students will meet to complete post­-session reviews and participate in group seminars to discuss challenges, review pedagogy, and frame the hands ­on work within an academic context including the reading and discussion of texts. Prerequisite: PERF 512. Clearances and other documents for fieldwork required. Year long.

521. In the Studio: Devising Practices (4 Credits) The first of two courses exploring devising performance, it combines hands on work on Touchstone’s Christmas City Follies theatrical production with a survey of various practices of devised performance. In the first year, students are introduced to the basics of devising; the immersive experience takes them from beginner through intermediate level where student participate as active collaborators. Fall.

522. In the Studio: Leadership (4 Credits) This is the second of two courses exploring devising performance. Students advance to positions of leadership. The course combines hands­ on work on Touchstone’s Christmas City Follies theatrical production with a survey of various practices of devised performance. Prerequisite: PERF 521. Fall.

531. Research and Theory (3 Credits) In this course, students are introduced to the world of critical theory and academic writing. While the class begins with a broad overview of theory, as the class moves forward we explore how overarching ideas of theory can be understood through the lens of Performance Studies, a field of studies not limited simply to theatre but encompassing a broader interdisciplinary hybridity, and focused on how the performative act is a constant and reflective way to view the world in which we live. Students will examine how their own work fits into this world, through roundtable discussions, presentations and one-­on-­one tutorials. In tandem with this exploration students will be coached on how to synthesize their ideas into a piece of academic writing, with the final challenge of the class being to identify a relevant critical concern to the students’ own practice and to write a 5000 word essay on the topic. Fall.

532. Culture and Identity in Performance (3 Credits) In this course, students will explore the theory of Performance Studies through the lens of culture and identity. Students will discover new ways of viewing their own unique artistry in the global context of artistic voices. Identifying the local within the global, students will also examine issues of culture and identity at home here in Bethlehem, PA. Emerging from this exploration and research, students will propose a (hypothetical) project of relevance to the local community. The course culminates with a 5000­word essay addressing a chosen critical concern. Prerequisite: PERF531. Spring.

541. Creation 1 (Ensemble) (3 Credits) In this course, students will build, hone, and demonstrate their practical ability to work as a collective in the creation of an original devised performance. Students will use the devising process to critically examine the group dynamic and methodologies employed in material generation. Prerequisite: PERF521. Spring.

542. Creation 2 (Solo) (3 Credits) Functioning as a solo artist, each student will hone a practical ability to autonomously see an idea through to fruition, with the result of a solo-­created performance piece. Throughout the creative process, students will critically examine the freedom and constraints of their own artistic voice, unencumbered by the influences of an ensemble, and its position within the field of contemporary performance. Prerequisite: PERF 541. Spring.

543. Creation 3 (Site/Community) (3 Credits) Building on the theory studied in Culture and Identity, and research/story gathering in Topics in Site­-Specific and Community­-based Performance, students will further develop their practical ability to work as a collective in the creation of an original site­-specific and/or community-­based performance. Students will use the creative process to explore cultural awareness and theoretical context, and critically examine the work’s intended/actual cultural impact and potential position within the field of contemporary performance. Prerequisites: PERF 532; PERF 551; PERF 542. Fall.

551. Topics in Site­-Specific and Community­-Based Performance (1 credit, repeated once each semester for six semester, for 6 credits total) Students will complete 60 hours of practicum associated with Touchstone Theatre’s ongoing site­-specific and community-­based work. These large­ scale projects are typically multi­year endeavors that have many phases of work, and there are often multiple projects at varying stages of development at any given time. This gives students the opportunity to be involved in the many phases that occur during their time in the program, from the initial planning stages and gathering of raw materials through interviews and research, to scouting appropriate sites for performance, to the final work of mounting the production. This course provides students experience making such work through its many phases. Accompanying the hands ­on work, in monthly roundtable discussions students and instructors will present to one another and discuss other companies involved in this type of work. Fall, Spring, Summer.

561. International Festival Experience: In the Audience and on the Stage (3 Credits) The course is minded toward students’ encounter with and self contextualization within the international community of performance makers and original theatre artists. The class includes a survey of contemporary international talent represented at the festival. Having developed a solid practice and understanding of their own work, students will be exposed to and learn to engage with artists and intellectuals minded toward performance study from the global community and within Touchstone’s extended network of like minded practitioners. Students will take an original performance production to the international stage, touring their collective devised work from PERF 541 to an international festivals. In doing so, students will learn management of international touring logistics and will strengthen their international network. Summer.

571. Thesis Project (6 Credits) As the artistic capstone to the MFA program, students will develop a polished, fully­ realized production, approximately 45­-75 minutes in length. In this final production-­based project of the MFA program, students will harness the totality of their experience in presenting their original work; a performance of professional­ level work, demonstrating their practical ability and theoretical knowledge in the creation of a refined performance. This is the work of the individual and not the cohort, each student is expected to lead their own project. In tandem with the thesis project students will create a workshop that reflects the process used in development of the work. Upon completion of the project students will be expected to offer an oral defense of their work and give a presentation on how this work will inform their upcoming thesis. Prerequisite: PERF 543. Spring.

572. Thesis (5 Credits) Upon completion of all other course work students engage in the writing of a 10,000 word thesis. Couched in the content and issues explored in PERF 571’s Thesis Project, this final writing serves as the student’s platform to show a Master’s level of engagement of their work, through the synthesis of the theoretical and the practical in to a concise and well researched treatise. To accompany the thesis, each student will identify and articulate a personal artistic statement through the expression of cultural and theoretical positions, aesthetic concerns, and political agendas of their artistic practice. Prerequisite: PERF 571. Summer.

581. Internship: The Business and Operations of Nonprofits (3 Credits) First year students will complete a year­long (140 hours) internship at Touchstone Theatre focusing on daily operations. They will gain an understanding of what it takes to support the program side of a functioning nonprofit organization. Students will be involved in multiple aspects of the company’s day-­to-­day operations. Duties include technical production support, database management, administrative organization, facility management and upkeep, promotional activities, and front of house operations. Concurrent with their internship, students meet together in a seminar format to discuss challenges, and frame the hands ­on work within an academic context including the reading and discussion of texts. Year long.

582. Internship: Arts Administration (3 Credits) As part of the immersive experience, all second­ year students will complete a year­long (140 hours) internship at Touchstone Theatre focusing on Arts Administration. Students will be involved in multiple aspects of the company’s day-­to-­day business operations. Duties include help with marketing and development efforts, database management, administrative organization, and financial operations. Concurrent with their internship, students meet together in a seminar format to discuss challenges, and frame the hands­ on work within an academic context including the reading and discussion of texts. Prerequisite: PERF 581. Year long.