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UA establishes Masters of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts and Generative Dramaturgy

Brett+Gibbs%2C+an+Associate+Professor+in+Theatre%2C+assists+a+theatre+student.
Courtesy Ed Flores
Brett Gibbs, an Associate Professor in Theatre, assists a theatre student.

The UA School of Theatre, Film and Television is now accepting applications for their new Masters of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts and Generative Dramaturgy.

Graduate students in this new program will be given unique opportunities to develop their skills in generative dramaturgy both on and off campus, while working closely with playwrights.

“Most people don’t even know what a dramaturg is,” said Lisa Pierce, director of marketing and development for the School of Theatre, Film and Television.

Pierce said dramaturgs are responsible for much of the historical research that goes into a theatrical production.

She said a dramaturg reviews scripts, costumes and set designs to make sure they’re appropriate for the era the performance is set in.

With theaters and production facilities at their disposal, students in the program will receive a more hands-on approach and an active role in the theater industry, as opposed to traditional classroom knowledge.

“Dramaturgs are very similar to artistic directors on films, they make sure that everything down to the buttons on a jacket are period appropriate,” Pierce said. “A lot of times they’ll create a manual, and give it to the director and cast of a show as a reference guide.”

Theaters around the world hire in-house dramaturgs to make sure their performances are accurate as possible.

“I think a master’s program in dramaturgy is a great addition to the UA,” said Marissa Lovett, a physiology graduate student. “I was part of an A Capella group on campus when I was an undergrad, so I understand the desire to be as accurate or precise as possible during a performance.”

The new master’s program is supported by the School of Theatre, Film and Television’s 40 faculty members and eight administrators, all of which have different experience and technical backgrounds in theater to offer students.

Jessica Maerz, an assistant professor in the UA’s School of Theatre, Film and Television, will be head of the generative dramaturgy program.

President of the Graduate and Professional Student Council, Zachary Brooks said the new program sounds fantastic and that the approval process for new academic programs at UA can usually take between one and two years.

“This has no doubt worked its way through a lot of people to get approved,” Brooks said.

Brooks said that any new academic program at the UA starts as an idea, but needs to gain support from within the school in order to be presented to department heads.

If all goes well, the department heads would then take the idea to the dean who would work on a formal proposal to be presented to the Faculty Senate, he said.

The dean and the department then work on a formal proposal to be presented to the Faculty Senate, after which it goes to the graduate or undergraduate council and back to the Faculty Senate where it is voted on.

Brooks said the final steps are giving the proposal to the Arizona Board of Regents and UA administration for approval.

Admission and retention to the program are based on evaluation of a student’s academic performance, skills, portfolio and talent, according to the program’s website.

The website also states the program requires three academic years to complete, at the end of which students will write a master’s report and complete a significant dramaturgical assignment.


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