Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic WritingLearning Objectives

Upon successful completion of the Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing (MFADW) 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 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.

Secondarily, the student also should:

  • Have knowledge of non-literary writing associated with playwriting (such as corporate writing, screenwriting, and television writing) inspired by nominal curriculum and drawn from self-activated exploration and production.
  • Be able to think critically about issues challenging society and the global community and to mine these issues for subject of humanistic significance, including the ability to articulate the significance of theatre as a potent 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.

Culminating Assessments

Evidence Used

  • The evidence used to determine that successful graduates have achieved program objectives include: capstone courses THTR 596ab, faculty assessments of student work in program courses; faculty assessments of student work in USC New Works Festival: Year One, USC New Works Festival: Year Two, and USC New Works Festival: Year Three (three tiers of public presentation of student work: readings, workshop productions, and concert staged readings); annual reviews conducted at the culminations of the first and second years in the program, and exit interviews.
  • THTR 596a and 596b are student independent study towards refinement of the thesis play for the USC School of Dramatic Arts Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing program with faculty supervision and guidance. Over the course of a student’s three years in the program, the student will select the play to foreground in transition to the profession post-graduation.  The student prepares the thesis play for thesis submission via development that has grown increasingly autonomous over the first two years in the program and that should be reaching near full autonomy in the third year.  The student is expected to utilize the dramaturgy gained over the course of the curriculum to bring the thesis play to a level of mastery.  The course allows the student to devote specific hours to development, nurturing, and maintenance of the thesis play.

Interpretation of Evidence

  • MFADW full-time faculty is responsible for interpreting the evidence under the leadership of the MFADW program director.
  • This process is actualized in discussions of student performance curricularly and extracurricularly, which includes discussions with adjunct faculty, but particularly with regards to discussions in annual reviews and exit interviews.

How Findings Are Used

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

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