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Program Descriptions
  • Directing MFA
Directing MFA

With an emphasis on the collaborative process, the Directing Program to develops directors with a solid foundation in the components of production and the interpretation of text, learn the specific language of theatre and express their own vision through strong theatricality, clear scenic situations, visual metaphors and innovative concepts. Individuals are encouraged to make challenging choices, to break down barriers, and to create exciting, meaningful theatre.

Financial Support

MFA students are offered a full financial package that covers all university tuition, insurance (health, dental, vision), scholarship grants, and work-study income opportunities. Living expenses and other fees are not typically covered. For a more detailed description of the financial support package for MFA students, download the Financial Package Breakdown.


The core curriculum of the program, Directing Process, offers students opportunities to hone their skills in all three years. In their classes, Directing MFA students will cover the pivotal moments in the History of Performance in terms of significant theatre styles. Directing seminars offer study of the innovative directors of twentieth century and of the contemporary world theatre. Directing curriculum also includes text analysis, dramaturgy and scene work with faculty from design, playwriting and acting. The first year student develops a visual vocabulary through a sequence of design courses that include scenic, costume, lighting and sound, with additional electives in projection design and design history. Other opportunities include practical courses in collaborative theater process that involve other MFA areas including actors, designers, stage managers, playwrights and choreographers.


Directing students continue their focus on collaborative work in directing two to four department-supported and faculty supervised productions, including new play readings and premiere productions in the annual the Wagner New Play Festival. The season also offers opportunities to assist guest and faculty directors. All productions are held in the Mandell Weiss Center for the Performing Arts, a multi-theatre complex, and are supported by the professional staff of La Jolla Playhouse. In addition, independent workshop and cabaret productions of the director’s choosing are strongly encouraged.


In the second year, the Tony award-winning La Jolla Playhouse provides a residency during which student directors typically serve as an Assistant Director with such directors as Robert Falls, Athol Fugard, Michael Greif, Neel Keller, Des McAnuff, Mark Rucker, Robert Woodruff and Tina Landau. Students also have the opportunity to attend the European Theatre Union's Festivals or other important European Festivals (Avignon, Edinburgh, BITEF, Salzburg etc.) as well as the possibility to assist great Directors of the moment in their rehearsal process.

Research and Other Opportunities

Directing faculty may also bring MFA directors with them to work as Assistant Directors. Graduate directors have produced shows in New York City, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.


The permanent directing faculty is diverse in style and international in experience. Faculty professional experience ranges from the classics to premieres of new work in theatre and opera. Their work also includes significant administrative experience as artistic directors in major international and American theatres. Directing faculty is Robert Castro, Judith Dolan, Kim Rubinstein and Gabor Tompa. Guest faculty in recent years has included directors Robert Woodruff, Dominique Serrand, Carl Weber, Yuri Kordonsky, Loretto Greco, Christopher Ashley, Darko Tresjnak, Brian Kulick, Robert O’Hara and Daniel Fish.

Click here to go to the Directing MFA Admissions page >>

If you have questions or would like more information about our Graduate programs, call the Graduate Coordinator at 858-534-1046 or email at meward@ucsd.edu.

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