Master of Fine Arts, Directing for the Theatre


The MFA program takes two years to complete. Courses are given in the autumn and winter sessions. If necessary, students may register for the spring session of their final year of program order to complete their post-production analysis or the directing practicum.

No part-time students will be accepted.

The program is administered by the Director of Graduate Studies, the Department of Theatre and by the Graduate Studies Committee. Students' production-related work and essays are overseen by production supervisors, who will normally change each session.

Diagnostic examination

Before the beginning of the first session, incoming students will take a diagnostic examination consisting of a written test covering the whole range of theatre studies and practice.

Production courses

Each student will be involved in a sequence of four (4) production courses, each centered on a practical exercise, undertaken with the guidance of a production supervisor, who may be a theatre professor or a guest artist. Normally, each student's production supervisor will change from session to session.

THE5901 (3 credits) Production I (Fundamental Elements of Directing)

During the first semester students will work under the supervision of a faculty member on a sequence of directing exercises designed to develop students’ specific analytical and practical abilities. Scenes and exercises will introduce students to the fundamental building blocks of stage direction. One of the goals of THE5901 (3 credits) Production I is to allow students the challenge of directing professional theatre performers from the region for a period of one or two weeks.

THE5902 (3 credits) Production II (One-act play)

During the second session of the program each student will direct a one-act play. This production will serve:

  • to give students the opportunity to employ the practical skills they have acquired in THE5901;
  • to acquaint students with the Department and its production procedures;
  • to help define each student’s the specific directions for their upcoming projects in directing

Post-Production meeting

Following each production by an MFA student, there will be a formal meeting of the Graduate Studies Committee, the student’s supervisor and the MFA candidate. At the end of each discussion of the student’s progress through the program and artistic achievements, clear objectives for subsequent directorial exercises will be articulated.

THE5903 (3 credits) Production III (One-act play)

During the third session of the program each student will present a more complex and ambitious one-act play building on the work done in the first two production courses.

THE5952 (3 credits) Formal pre-production analysis and THE6001 (6 credits) Final production

This project is the culmination of the MFA curriculum. It consists of four (4) elements:

  • Before the end of the second session, each student must submit a brief final production proposal consisting of a list of three full-length plays to the Graduate Studies Committee. The proposal should include a clear rationale for the choice of each play in the context of the practical work that the student has completed so far in the program. The committee will recommend one of these plays as the student's final production project. In consultation with the MFA candidate and the Graduate Studies Committee, the Director of Graduate Studies will appoint a production supervisor.
  • During the third session, the student must register into THE5952 ANALYSE FORMELLE DE LA PRÉ-PRODUCTION / FORMAL PRE-PRODUCTION ANALYSIS (3cr.) and prepare a substantial formal pre-production analysis of the play, which must include a historical and dramatic analysis of the play, a study of the play's place within the author's oeuvre, a production history and a detailed production concept for the play, as well as a critical bibliography of works pertaining to the play and to the production.  The supervisor of Final Production monitors the student’s progress through the course THE5952
  • After his/her successful completion of THE5952, the student must register into THE6001 PRODUCTION FINALE / FINAL PRODUCTION (6cr.). This course consists of a full-length final production, which is presented during the student's fourth session in the program. This production is designed to be a full scale public performance with complete technical and production support.
  • In order to complete THE6001, the student must submit a substantial post-production analysis of his or her recent production. In this report the MFA student reflects on the preparation, rehearsal, performance and reception of the production. After observing the MFA student’s preparation work, reflecting on his/her post-production report, and in consultation with the Graduate Studies Committee, the production’s supervisor assigns the grade to the course THE6001.


All students in the MFA program participate in four (4) directing seminars. Each seminar is designed:

  • to ensure that students have a grasp of the practical foundations, theoretical components, and past and current trends of directorial practice;
  • to allow students to practically explore these ideas in their own studio exercises and MFA productions

Each seminar focuses on specific topics and approaches to directing. It provides a forum for the collaborative discussion of problems and issues encountered by the students in their production work. All graduate seminars are bilingual. Presentations and discussions will take place in both official languages. Following the University of Ottawa regulations, each student has the right to choose the language of their practical and written assignments.

Core Courses

All MFA students are required to take two (2) core courses THE5130/THE5530 Dramaturgy/Dramaturgie and THE5140/THE5540 Theory of Performance / Analyse de la représentation. The MFA students share these courses with the MA students.

THE5130/THE5530 Dramaturgy/Dramaturgie 
[offered every year in alternate languages]  

This course examines the dramatic text as a point of departure for theatrical performance. It defines the art of dramaturgy as the analysis of the poetics of dramatic text as well as the study of its structural specificities and norms.  Students will be required to study major elements of—and theories related to—new play development, both from a historical perspective as well as a conceptual one.

THE5140/THE5540 Theory of Performance/ Analyse de la représentation 
[offered every year in alternate languages] 

This course takes into consideration a range of performance forms that define contemporary practice including performance art, fine art, film, site-specific theatre and cyber-spectacle. It seeks to equip students with the skills necessary for pursuing both practical and academic careers in theatre.  Major elements of performance will be studied, both from historical and conceptual perspectives.


Students observe an established director mount a professional production. At the conclusion of the production, the student will submit a detailed record and analysis of the directorial process in which they have participated. Graded: S/NS. The practicum is co-coordinated and evaluated by the Director of Graduate Studies. The practicum is evaluated based on the student's practicum report (10-15 pages paper) and a follow-up conversation between the Director of Graduate Studies and the theatre director with whom the student worked.

Collaboration with the professional theatre community

The MFA curriculum is structured with the express purpose of facilitating the active participation of working theatre professionals, both the resident artistic directors of the English and French theatres in the region, and the directors, actors and other artists who regularly pass through Ottawa in the course of local theatre seasons. The program has been designed to incorporate meaningful contributions by working professionals in four distinct ways:

  • The modular structure of the directing seminar makes it possible for artists who may be in the region for a limited time to work as teachers for concentrated periods of between two and six weeks.
  • The rotation of graduate production supervisors means that professional artists, in particular local artistic directors, can work closely with students on individual productions over a single session.
  • The practicum assures that directing students will have the chance to observe established directors at work on productions outside the university setting.

Grading system

All courses are graded according to the alpha-numeric scale unless the course description in the graduate calendar explicitly indicates otherwise. The grading scale is as follows: 

A+ 90 - 100 % 10 points Exceptional
A 85 - 90 % 9 points Excellent
A- 80 - 84 % 8 points Excellent
B+ 75 - 79 % 7 points Very good
B 70 - 74 % 6 points Very good
C+ 65 - 69 % 5 points Good

All grades below C+ (65%) are failing grades for graduate students.

C 60 - 64 % 4 points
D+ 55 - 59 % 3 points
D 50 - 54 % 2 points
E 40 - 49 % 1 point
F 0 - 39 % 0 points

The practicum and the comprehensive examination are graded satisfactory (S) or not satisfactory (NS).

Any student who receives two failing grades (equivalent to six credits), or who fails the same course twice, is required to withdraw.

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