General Program Overview
The Master of Fine Arts Program in Design and Technical Production in the School of Theatre, Television, and Film at San Diego State University accepts students who are seriously interested in achieving the artistry and skills necessary to qualify them to be practicing professionals in the fields of Theatre, Television, and/or Film. A balance of theoretical coursework, studio work, and production is achieved through the curriculum and close consultation with faculty advisors. While the learning environment is protective enough to allow you to succeed, direct exposure to the diverse and richly active theatre life of San Diego and its environs is an important element of the program. The MFA provides the essential education, technical training and creative experience necessary for professional careers or college-level teaching. We expect your three years spent here to be among the most rewarding and fulfilling of your life.
The MFA program at San Diego State University is a three-year degree program with emphases in scenery, costume, or lighting design and technology. Under normal circumstances, no more than two students are admitted into each emphasis per year. This allows ample opportunity for design and personal contact with the faculty. Students work with theatre professionals both within and outside the academic environment; as an MFA student, you are allowed to design as much as your individual capabilities permit; you are required to participate in an intensive internship, often working as an assistant to a professional designer or in a television or film studio; and you are expected to develop skill sets which will serve you well into the future.
The faculty and staff of any university is largely responsible for the excellence and uniqueness of its program. This is particularly true of the Design and Technology Faculty of San Diego State University. Our faculty consists of 6 individuals, all of whom have achieved excellence in the areas of academic theatre and professional theatre design. Most continue to design at the regional and national levels.
The MFA program or course of study is composed of a number of core courses which every MFA student must elect, requirements in design and production which generate credit, and electives. The minimum number of units required is 60, but it is not unusual for our MFAs to graduate with 80 or more units after their 3 years. The Design and Technology curriculum is quite different from that of Technical Production. For more information on the Technical Production Curriculum contact Professor Loren Schreiber.
The production program at San Diego State is made up of 6 main season shows each year and a large number and variety of student productions. We offer an MFA in Musical Theatre and produce two musicals each season. The remaining four shows are chosen to provide a well-rounded theatre experience for our students. Often they include a contemporary piece, a Shakespeare or similar production, a show that reflects the diversity of our student body, and perhaps an international script.
Every MFA student designs a minimum of two fully-mounted productions at SDSU. Most designers do many more than that, working on productions within as well as outside the department. San Diego State has strong relationships with a number of local award-winning professional theatre companies including the Old Globe Theatre, Cygnet Theatre, and the La Jolla Playhouse. Each year San Diego Dance Theatre, a local professional dance company, performs in the Don Powell Theatre and is designed by our MFA students. In addition, our partnership with the Department of Music and Dance provides numerous design opportunities in dance and opera.
The Juries are held each year in the Spring. Student production groups are assigned a play, design it on paper, and rehearse a short scene from the play. On the day of presentation, a "jury" consisting of nationally acclaimed designers, directors, and playwrights assembles and reviews and critiques the student's work. Past jurors have included Ming Cho Lee, Edward Albee, Martin Benson, Peter Maradudin and John Iaccovelli to mention a few. The juries are a unique and invaluable learning experience for our design students.
The Design Showcase is held at the end of the school year and allows our students to "showcase" their work for industry professionals. It is a time for our students polish and display their portfolios, often resulting in professional design opportunities. Graduate and advanced undergraduate design and technology students have the chance to demonstrate the artistry and craftsmanship necessary for the success of all productions. Being displayed are various class projects as well as actualized production work from the current theatre season. The work representing the students' design ideas and technical skills include: sketches, models, photos, hand and computer renderings and actual costumes.
Our alumni are working in widely diverse areas of the entertainment industry: film, television, education, themed entertainment, consulting and services, and, of course, theatre. Several have offered to post their website addresses so that you may view their work.