M.F.A. in Theatre, Design & Technical Emphasis
Master of Fine Arts candidates in Scenic Design come with a variety of backgrounds and experiences. All candidates are required to interview. Students should be prepared to present a portfolio or provide evidence of experience and aptitude in a related visual area. Deficiencies in undergraduate training may need to be completed before students are fully admitted to the M.F.A. program. Admission to the theatre program is facilitated through the Southern Miss Graduate School.
Students are urged to apply early for work-study or graduate assistantships. Both programs include tuition, out-of-state fees and a living stipend.
Structure of the Program
There are few required courses in the program. Each student plans his or her degree program with the graduate committee and primary advisor. Thus, each student's degree program is "custom made" -- one of the strongest features of our department. In addition, all students enroll in the graduate design studio for four or more semesters of their program. The studio gathers all of the students from the various design disciplines into one interactive learning environment.
A student will be expected to show a high level of skill in the primary area of scenic design or scenic technology and management with an acceptable level of performance in the secondary area. Students choosing to emphasize design will be required to demonstrate a high level of proficiency in rendering and design reasoning. Those choosing scenic technology and management will be expected to demonstrate skills in construction, engineering, and in-shop management.
Each graduate designer is allowed to design at least one show per year, after the first semester of residence (new graduate students may not always design in the first year). Design shots are assigned during the previous semester. Typically, students begin with modest projects and then move to more advanced levels of design. There also may be design opportunities for concerts staged each semester by the dance program. On average, each design student will produce three or four staged designs during their three years at Southern Miss. In addition to scenic design, students are encouraged to seek the available opportunities in lighting and sound design and in technical direction.
The student also will be expected to fill other positions, such as assistant designer, charge artist, or assistant technical director on other productions during each semester. Undergraduates with a concentration in scenic design are regularly assigned to graduate designers as design assistants. As M.F.A. candidates advance in the program, they will be assigned to teach stagecraft laboratory or specific class sessions in stagecraft or design.