M.F.A. in Design and Technology

The University of Texas Austin is a destination where artists can practice a rigorous and daring exploration of their talents. We are dedicated to adventurous creative thought, critical contemplation, and the crafting of meaning through performance. We promote the belief that the design professional is a generative rather than an interpretive artist. We encourage those students who seek to cross the traditional boundaries of design, performance, and technology and those who have a strong desire to create original performance work. The UT community of professional faculty and staff mentors believe students should hold a deep, complex understanding of performance and their relationship to the world of performance making. Graduate school is the beginning of a lifelong exercise of passionate discourse and inspirational discovery within the art form. At The University of Texas performance is an integral, fundamental cultural essential honoring traditional theatre heritage and embracing alternative contemporary forms of expression. We are educating the next generation of visionary leaders in the arts. What Starts Here Changes the World.

The Experience

  • Rigorous foundational skill and technique development.
  • Innovative realized production experiences.
  • An opportunity for the artist to grow as a unique and adventurous voice.
  • Discovery and study of new and traditional performance technologies.
  • Close and consistent contact with professional mentors, guest artists, and practitioners.
  • Opportunities in Theatre, Dance, Opera, Film, Video, Performance Art, Solo Performance

The People

In addition to the close mentoring relationships that students can expect with members of the design faculty they will have regular access to important guest artists and a world-class faculty in other areas of the department. Furthermore, graduate cohorts in Playwriting, Dance, Acting, Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities and Performance as Public Practice provide a rich community of fellow artists and scholars with which design and technology students can engage. Our students work in state of the art facilities and are supported by a highly trained professional staff. The Design and Technology training at The University of Texas is situated in the Department of Theatre and Dance working in close relationship with the Department of Radio, Television and Film, Burnt Orange Productions (an independent film company), the Butler Opera Center and the Department of Art and Art History.

The Environment

Austin is an alternative choice for a student experience. The city has been recognized as one of the most important centers of creative capital in America. The motto "keep Austin weird" expresses the independent spirit so pervasive in this community. Austin Texas offers a diverse and robust arts scene. Austin boasts over forty working theatre companies, an important indie film industry, world-class museums, research facilities and an extraordinary live music scene. Houston, Dallas and San Antonio are within driving distance and the world seems to eventually find a reason to visit Austin. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the many opportunities that this environment affords.

We strongly encourage students to work beyond the boundaries of Austin during the summer breaks. Students while in the program have interned or worked at the following venues:

    Academy of Film and Television - Los Angeles, CA: internship
    Alley Theatre, Houston, TX - designer, draper, crafts, dyer/painter, wig master
    Arnold Levine, Inc., New York - assistant milliner for Broadway and opera
    Barbara Matera's Costumes, New York - first hand
    Utah Shakespearean Festival - design assistant, draper, first hand, craft artisan
    Guthrie Theatre, Minneapolis - millinery, assistant designer
    Children's Theatre of Minneapolis - crafts artisan
    Old Globe Theatre, San Diego - assistant designer, craft artisan, first hand
    Oregon Shakespeare Festival - design assistant, fabric painting and dyeing
    Metropolitan Opera, New York - shopper, craft artisan
    Santa Fe Opera - apprentice, first hand, craft artisan, design assistant
    Spoletto Festival - assistant to shop manager, crafts artisan
    Williamstown Theatre Festival - assistant designer
    Houston's Theatre Under the Stars - electrician, assistant designer
    Penumbra Theatre, Minneapolis - technical director, electrician
    Houston Grand Opera - resident assistant lighting designer
    Barnum & Bailey Circus Blue Tour - assistant moving light operator
    Cincinnati Opera - resident assistant lighting designer

The Purpose

An education is one of the few possessions that once attained you will always own. It will provide infinite support, a common community, and acknowledged advantage in the profession. We have an active and successful network of alumni. Former students are working as designers, assistant designers, drapers, tailors, crafts artisans, master electricians, technical directors, production managers, entertainment designers, and production designers in all performance genres throughout the world. UT graduates have assisted such prestigious designers as Dona Granata, Ann Hould-Ward, Bob Morgan, Paul Tazwell, Martin Pakledinaz, Constance Hoffman, Jess Goldstein, and Desmond Heeley. New York alumni are free-lance designers as well as being employed at Jim Henson Productions, Parsons-Meares Costume Company, Carelli Costume, Dye Namix, Barbara Matera's and the Actor's Studio. Los Angeles alumni are free-lancing for the film and television industry, working at the Jim Henson Creature Shop and at the Mark Taper Forum. Other alumni across the country are employed at the San Francisco Opera, Washington Opera, Metropolitan Opera, Alabama Shakespeare festival, The Alley Theatre, High End Systems, and Herbalife International. Once you have joined the vast network of working alumni you will benefit from and understand the strength of that community.

THE Preparation

Both the design and technology programs are rigorous and particularly geared toward those students actively pursuing a career in theatre and film. We seek committed, focused students who have a realistic knowledge of the business and are ready to make a serious commitment to their education. Students who have been out of undergraduate school for at least a year are preferred but our entrance requirements are based on demonstrated talent and skill rather than professional experience.

All performance is communication which is the basis for an art form that reaches beyond the elements of the spoken language and letters. In expressing that art the most important tool for the artist is the sketch. For this reason, we search for students with a level of proficiency in drawing and painting, self awareness, and sophistication of thought.

The Department of Theatre and Dance requires a portfolio review and an interview with a member of the faculty for admittance into the Design and Technology programs. We encourage students to visit the Austin campus in order to fully appreciate the benefits of the Austin atmosphere.