Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic WritingLearning Objectives

Upon successful completion of the Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing program, the student shall have gained proficiency in designated learning objectives. The student should gain a level of mastery of the central concepts of dramatic writing, including:

  • Expertise in character development, including desire, the multidimensional elements of character, and the “geography” of mapping character; and the ability to tackle the “unanswerables” – the problems and questions that cannot be merely quantified or completely described or finished – on stage through the actions and consequences of the characters.
  • Expertise in story development including and understanding of progressive action and the nature of conflict.
  • Ability to cultivate a distinctive and authentic voice and vision.
  • Ability to research dimensions of character and story in order to authenticate dramatic representations.
  • Ability to write dramatic dialogue and discern the distinctions between dialogue and conversation including the ability to use all the dimensions of language to enhance the expression of the sensory and emotional life of the play.
  • Ability to comprehend and utilize metaphor and imagery to expand the subtext and the deeper implications of the dramatic work.
  • Awareness of dramatic writing’s capacity for connecting to all disciplines in the investigation of the critical questions of humanity.
  • Ability to understand and utilize stage time as something other than real time, as something to be foreshortened or elongated as well as elevated, depending on event and point of view.
  • Ability to reflect the world through the prism of the play, so that the writing is suitably and deliberately questioning and open-ended, allowing for colloquy between artist and audience that can change and adapt over time.
  • Ability to convey feeling – passion – that goes beyond mere emotion and to employ empathy.
  • Ability to think in terms of total theatre – utilizing music, dance, media, sports, and other elements – to create a world on stage all its own; and own the courage to explore form with intelligence and creativity.
  • Ability to understand the process of presentation and production, and the responsibilities of the writer as a collaborator in that process, including the ability to absorb and apply constructive criticism and revise and refine the work towards greater professional excellence as well as the ability to adapt, learn, initiate, and be proactive creatively and intellectually.

The student also should:

  • Have broad knowledge of the sub-areas – playwriting, screenwriting, television writing – within the area with substantial proficiency in one or two, including important approaches and foundational texts.
  • Be able to think critically about issues challenging society and the global community via critical studies in theatre and to mine these issues for subject of humanistic significance including the ability to articulate the significance of theatre as a “smart power” means for contributing positively to human survival.
  • Be able to operate as a good citizen in the profession and in society, exhibiting integrity, a sense of ethics, and morality.
  • Be able to plan, develop, and complete a professionally promising thesis portfolio comprised of a variety of dramatic writing projects that speak to mastery of craft in dramatic writing.

Culminating Assessments

Evidence Used

  • The evidence used to determine that successful graduates have achieved program objectives include: capstone courses THTR 593ab Master of Fine Arts Project and THTR 575 Creative Production Projects, faculty course evaluations, and the School of Dramatic Arts’s Under Construction Festival.
  • In THTR 593ab, students are presented with a detailed curricular guide (available in hard copy or electronically) that articulates the guidelines for the planning, development, and preparation of their thesis portfolios. At the end of their third and last year in the program when 593a and 593b have been completed, students submit their thesis portfolios for review, a review that determines their achievement of learning objectives and readiness for graduation from the program.
  • In THTR 575, the project that the student, in consultation with faculty, considers to be his or her signature project in his or her thesis portfolio is subjected to deep and broad investigation that allows faculty to observe firsthand the student’s comprehension of learning objectives and ability to apply that learning to his or her work.
  • This project is then presented in the New Works Festival utilizing professional dramatists that includes responders who are producers, artistic directors, literary managers, or dramaturges. Their evaluation of the students’ work provides an external review that augments evidence to determine achievement of learning objectives.
  • In essence, the portfolio contents are determined, developed, and refined in 593a. Midway through the final year, faculty meets with each student to discuss strengths; and weaknesses and continued refinement of the portfolios takes place in 593b. In 575, faculty team-mentor the students in developing the portfolio centerpieces.

Interpretation of Evidence

  • MFADW full-time faculty is responsible for interpreting the evidence.
  • This process is actualized in discussions of student performance curricularly and extracurricularly, which includes discussions with adjunct faculty, but particularly with regard to the meetings conducted with the graduating class in the middle of their final year in the program.
  • Since THTR 575 is a team-taught course that includes full-time MFADW faculty, on going discussions occur to interpret students’ understanding of learning.
  • In addition, the full-time faculty reviews each graduating student’s portfolio by reading, analyzing, and discussing its merits among themselves. If it is determined that learning objectives have been achieved, the portfolio is approved. Taken into consideration in this process is the feedback provided to faculty by the external responders who participate in the New Works Festival.

How Findings Are Used

The findings are used to determine the quality of the student’s mastery of craft and his or her readiness for the profession. In addition, findings are used to improve approaches to teaching and approaches to assessment of learning.

The MFADW was last reviewed as part of UCAR in the spring semester 2009.