Columbia University’s MFA Theatre Program is collaborative, international, and interdisciplinary. It defines itself by its location in New York City. It thrives on the extensive network of Columbia alumni and faculty who work in prestigious theatres at every level, who direct and perform in award-winning productions, and who engage with our students far beyond the classroom.
The Theatre MFA programs in Acting, Directing, Playwriting, Dramaturgy, Stage Management, and Theatre Management & Producing seek students who have the talent, vision, and commitment to become exceptional artists. At the School of the Arts, students interact with the leading creators, practitioners, producers, and analysts of today’s theatre, acquiring rigorous training rooted deeply in the classics, while exploring new forms and the cutting edge of theatrical art. The best theatre across all times and cultures has not only reflected, but has also shaped its society. At its best, theatre helps point society to its best future. Columbia’s MFA Theatre Program aims to train theatre artists to fulfill that important role in today’s society.
Experiential learning is the methodology around which all our coursework during the first two years is centered. We encourage students to master their concentration deeply and thoroughly. We also support learning through partnership with other concentrations. We offer two Collaboration classes – one in each of the first two years. Here, the focus is on the creation of new work through interdisciplinary teams. Additionally, students have access to a wide range of New York’s most established producers, managers, and publicity agents, often through taking classes in their offices throughout the city. Due to these connections, students and acclaimed professionals are able to build relationships and facilitate the acquisition of sought-after internships and coveted jobs. We also urge students to participate in learning opportunities at Columbia’s other acclaimed graduate schools.
The third and final year is devoted to students synthesizing their learning and crafting their own artistic and professional voice through thesis projects, productions, and internships with professional theatre organizations. In addition, students attend colloquia throughout the year with writers, actors, directors, agents, and producers. Upon successful completion of the program, directors are eligible to join the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) at no cost to them.
Recent guest lecturers at the program include:
Ayad Akhtar, Alec Baldwin, Annie Baker, Stephen Belber, André Bishop, Jason Butler Harner, Michael Cristofer, Mike Daisey, Olympia Dukakis, Oskar Eustis, America Ferrera, Harvey Fierstein, Richard Foreman, Freddie Gershon, Sam Gold, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Nicholas Hytner, Gregory Kandel, Moises Kaufman, Adrienne Kennedy, Lisa Kron, Tony Kushner, Stan Lai, Mark Lamos, Tina Landau, James Lapine, Young Jean Lee, Margo Lion, Hal Luftig, Taylor Mac, Pam MacKinnon, Erika Mallin, Peter Marks, Michael Mayer, Simon McBurney, Kevin McCollum, Joseph Melillo, Bruce Myers, James Nicola, Mike Nichols, Cynthia Nixon, Mandy Patinkin, Lisa Peterson, Michael Riedel, Sarah Ruhl, Tim Sanford, Bartlett Sher, Nicky Silver, Anna Deavere Smith, Stephen Sondheim, Simon Stephens, Ivo van Hove, Les Waters, Jaan Whitehead, and Francesca Zambello.
Acting Thesis Interview: In the Blood
Columbia MFA Acting thesis In the Blood brings conversation around poverty, institutional racism, and motherhood into sharp focus. We sat down with cast member Owala Maima to discuss decompressing when performing heavy material, her aspirations, and the performance.read more
Stars Behind The Stars: Adam Hess '02
Stars Behind The Stars is a bi-weekly series featuring theatre makers behind the scenes. This week we sat down with Theatre Management and Producing alumnus and faculty Adam Hess ’02 and discussed his work as the Executive General Manager at Daryl Roth Theatre.read more
Acting Alumna Kim Katzberg '09 Winner of 2019 New York Innovative Theatre Award
Alumna Kim Katzberg ’09 wins the 2019 New York Innovative Theatre Award in the Outstanding Solo Performance category for her production of Dad in a Box. This is Katzberg’s second award. She previously took home the 2016 award for Outstanding Original Short Script.read more
Alumnus Rory McGregor '17 Presents 'Conway'
Directing Alumnus Rory McGregor '17 writes, directs, and produces Conway which will be presented at TheaterLab. McGregor recently served as the Associate Director for the Broadway production Sea Wall/A Life starring non degree Columbia College alumnus Jake Gyllenhaal ’02 and Tom Sturridge.read more
Recent Acting Alumna Dawn Clements '19 joins 'Pride and Prejudice'
Acting Alumna Dawn Elizabeth Clements ’19 will play Lydia in the Long Wharf Theatre’s upcoming production of Pride and Prejudice. This new adaptation by Kate Hamill is directed by Jess McLeod. Clements most recently starred as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet at the Classical Theatre of Harlem.read more
Playwriting Alumnus Jeffrey James Keyes '10 Wins Two Awards
Alumnus Jeffrey James Keyes ’10 recently won the top prize in Creative Technology at the 2019 NYC Media Lab for his work on Digital Arrest.read more