The Master of Fine Arts in Acting at WVU is an intensive three-year course of study and the School of Theatre & Dance accepts a limited number of students to the program once every three years.
The small class size promotes a high level of individual attention and creates an
intimate and strong ensemble. We are a process-oriented program, providing an environment
conducive to risk-taking and experimentation. The MFA acting students
are the core of the casting pool for five to six main stage productions as well
as up to ten workshop and second stage productions per year. A typical MFA student
will perform in as many as 6-8 main stage and multiple workshop productions in
their three years at WVU.
In addition to meeting the graduate entrance requirements for West Virginia University, all applicants for the Master of Fine Arts in Acting must complete an interview audition. GREs are not required.
First Year – Modern / Realism
The first two years are dedicated to thorough training in the craft and skills of the actor. In the Studio Acting Program students are committed to a five-day a week conservatory style schedule focusing on classes in acting, voice and speech as well as movement. Actor training methodology is eclectic in nature with a primary basis in the Stanislavsky method along with the acting techniques of Sanford Meisner. The first year is grounded in contemporary American Realism and early modern realistic and non-real European drama.
Second Year – Shakespeare/Classical
The second year is dedicated to work in Shakespeare and other period styles including Restoration comedy and Comedy of Manners. Other topics covered in the Studio Acting Program include singing, Suzuki, movement composition, stage combat, audition technique, masks, improvisation, make-up, psychiatry for the actor, dialects, and fencing. Voice work is focused on the Linklater and Fitzmaurice techniques while movement is explored primarily through Anne Bogart’s Viewpoints and Laban’s effort qualities. Through the first two years, additional course work is taken in criticism, research methods, dramatic literature and text analysis.
Third Year – Professional Development
The third year explores acting for film and television, voice-overs, solo performance and musical theatre. The third year requires each student to articulate a professional artistic vision and to participate in creative work advancing that vision. Possibilities may include the creation of original performance works, advanced teaching pedagogy, or advanced explorations in specific performance topics. Course work is also dedicated to real world and professional business skills. The students’ work culminates in the performance, written documentation and oral defense of a thesis project. At the end of the third year graduate students present an acting showcase for agents and casting directors in New York City hosted by the School of Theatre & Dance.
At the center of all training is the belief that an authentic and truthful identification with the wants and needs of the character will lead to compelling communication and dynamic theatre. Through training, the actor’s imagination and creative abilities find freedom and the actor’s technical, physical, and vocal skills develop. Both imagination and technique respond to the demands of style and genre, and flourish in the expression of the play.