Theater - Directing, Playwriting & Production (BFA)

If you're a creative, self-starting collaborator with an interest in theater making and management, the Directing, Playwriting and Production Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program at University of the Arts' Ira Brind School of Theater Arts is the best place for you. We offer one of the only undergraduate programs in the U.S. that combines directing, playwriting, stage management and producing in one major.

Students in UArts’ Brind School can take a deeply interdisciplinary approach by collaborating with other schools within the University. In addition to making full-scale productions, musicals and plays, many students branch out into other areas of the university to strengthen their theater making capabilities. Some make and produce music, some make films, some compose scores, some choreograph, some build sculptures that turn into installations.

“The DPP Program gave me the tools to explore and deepen my interdisciplinary artistic identity.” - Bren Leone BFA ‘22 (Directing, Playwriting & Production)

Students in the Brind School's Directing, Playwriting and Production degree have a profoundly hands-on approach to developing theater-making skills. You will work on at least eight different productions while you are here, whether as stage manager, assistant director, dramaturg, assistant choreographer, etc. You may have your work produced in our new play festival Equinox, an annual new play festival that brings together student producers, playwrights, performers, directors, stage managers and designers for a collaborative production—without the assistance of faculty. You will make a senior project that serves as the capstone to your time here, which could be a production of your new play, your direction of a musical or an investigative project that lays the groundwork for the founding of your new theater company post-graduation. Additionally, our partnership with the Wilma Theater and many other Philadelphia theaters gives students experience with large-scale productions that operate under union rules.

You’ll have a chance to gain international inspiration through our student exchange program. Directing, Playwriting and Production majors get both experience and exposure through the completion of their senior projects, which showcase their works in produced festivals – from UArts productions and audition showcases to small, experimental theater and huge Broadway-style productions.

In 2021, UArts was named one of the top performing arts colleges in the U.S. by the College Gazette.

Ira Brind School of Theater Arts 2022–2023

Check out the Brind School's seasons of theater production.

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Student Spotlight

Students in the Brind School's Directing, Playwriting and Production program act as producers and artistic leaders of Equinox, an annual new play festival that brings together student producers, playwrights, performers, directors, stage managers and designers for a collaborative production—without the assistance of faculty. Our partnership with Philadelphia’s Merriam Theater gives students experience with large-scale productions that operate under union rules.

headshot of Santi Castro. Santi has a curly black-gray hair cropped on the sides and is wearing a sheet top with a black spiked leather vest over it. Santi has many tattoos, including a red robin on the left cheek.
Santi Tonauac Castro

'23

Theater - Directing, Playwriting & Production (BFA)
PMA employee, Hatfield House installation grantee, writer for play shown at the PlayPenn Conference for New Plays.

Experience the passion and creativity of young artists on the threshold of professional success. See this season's lineup of shows.

On Stage

Faculty Spotlight

The talented faculty who will lead your courses are trained professionals in a variety of areas. You'll learn how to use your voice for maximum impact on stage from gifted public speakers. You'll understand the ins and outs of set design from designers of top Philadelphia performances. Meet the faculty in the Directing, Playwriting and Production program. Our faculty includes 60 instructors, the majority of which are current theater professionals. Additionally, alumni regularly return to UArts as educators and hold central positions in Philadelphia’s theater culture, extending your creative community far beyond campus.

Amy Dugas Brown head shot
Amy Dugas Brown

Theater - Directing, Playwriting & Production (BFA)
Program Director; 10 seasons as associate artistic director at the award-winning Arden Theatre Company
David Jacobi head shot
David Jacobi

Theater - Directing, Playwriting & Production (BFA)
Holland New Voices Award, Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences Award, Relentless Award
Justin Jain black and white headshot
Justin Jain

Theater - Acting (BFA)
Founder of Berserker Residents, a groundbreaking theater company
Kyle Metzger with his arms crossed and wearing a blue shirt and leaning against a beige wall with a white curtain
Kyle Metzger

Theater - Musical Theater (BFA)
Director, producer and deviser who directs and devises plays and specializes in very queer, highly theatrical storytelling
A headshot of Savannah Reich against a wood-paneled background
Savannah Reich

Screenwriting (BFA)
A playwright and screenwriter based in Philadelphia

About the Curriculum

The Directing, Playwriting and Production program builds future theater-majors who have rigor, imagination, and a deep and diverse skill set, spanning writing, directing, production and/or theater management.

All students take three core classes that focus on how to lead through collaboration (Theater Collaboration, Director/Design Collaboration, Senior Project II). They all take classes in each core discipline (Directing, Playwriting, Producing, Stage Management), and are required to delve deeper into at least one of those disciplines. Often, students take all four levels of two of the above disciplines, making them rounded theater artists that are ready for a broad range of work after graduation. While you will take the first level of each focus (directing, playwriting, management), you then will focus on at least one of three disciplines. There is an opportunity to deepen in more than one of these areas. You choose, and can change, your focus to explore your interests within theater and hone your expertise. Hands-on experiences are supported through classroom mentorship and complementary coursework.

In addition to rigorous artistic development, they are also all taught financial leadership and management skills. Artistic innovation and entrepreneurship are at the core of this curriculum.

This theater-making curriculum will nurture your individual artistry and voice, help you build a diverse skill set and open your awareness. When you graduate, you will have the ability to walk into any rehearsal room and know how to be useful and excellent!

Sample curriculum

Duration: Four years, full time
Credits: 120
Major requirements: 69 credits
Discipline history: 9 credits
Critical Studies: 33 credits
Free electives: 9 credits

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Studio work

Studio work
Directing (1-4)
Playwriting (1-4)
Stage Management (1 & 2)
Advanced Management
Design Course
Interdisciplinary Art Exploration

Courses in Studio Work will teach you the bedrock skills of theater making, from the critical technical writing and directing skills through to the high-level production and management tactics necessary for success. Studio work courses will cover effectively analyzing scripts and source material, conducting and applying research and making specific choices about world building that serve both the needs of the script and the artist’s imaginative impulse. Completing the Studio Work coursework will develop your craft, technique and professionalism, and will allow you to make work that exhibits imagination and a strong personal point of view.

Collaboration

Collaboration
Theater Collaboration
Director/Design Collaboration
New Play Workshop
Approaches to Acting
Approaches to Movement

The Collaboration coursework will help you develop your voice and your depth and breadth as a theatermaker. You will learn to critically engage with your own work and that of others, to manage time and resources, to read and analyze plays and source material and to innovate and to collaborate and iterate in the service of theater-making under a wide range of conditions. These courses will help you be well-rounded and adaptable in matters of the stage.

Context

Context
Exploration of Style
Dramaturgy
Theater History (1 & 2)
Script Analysis
Survey of Theater

Developing a rich context around the work you will do is crucial to theater making. The Context coursework will help you become aware of how the theater artist serves society and how to best engage in that service. A broader context will allow you to exhibit greater curiosity and empathy, supporting it with a knowledge of the history of both theater art and the humanities. With a grounding in the context of theater making, you will be flexible and fearless in your integration of studio and classroom techniques needed to meet the varying demands of dramatic forms and theatrical styles.

Leadership

Leadership
Theater Company Management
I Am My Own Company
Business of Theater
Contracts & Law
Intro to Practicum
Production Practicum

The Leadership coursework will allow you to demonstrate the ability to lead a collaboration, specifically communicating and effectively realizing their artistic goals and aesthetic. Program graduates with leadership skill display the ability to work deeply and adroitly in at least one of the three component disciplines (directing, playwriting, and/or management) in the service of initiating an artistic project, building it from the ground up and seeing it through to completion. You will demonstrate an understanding of theater producing models, both nonprofit and commercial, as well as theater company structures and organizational functions.

Explore the Full Curriculum

Alumni Spotlight

The Directing, Playwriting and Production program builds future theater-majors who have rigor, imagination, and a deep and diverse skill set, spanning writing, directing, production and/or theater management.

Elana Boulos
Elana Boulos

BFA '09

Theater - Directing, Playwriting & Production (BFA)
Cast member of the renowned Chicago-based Steppenwolf Theatre Company
Elaina DiMonaco head shot
Elaina Di Monaco

BFA '13

Theater - Directing, Playwriting & Production (BFA)
Professional director, Fringe Festival; resident dramaturg, PlayPenn
Jacob Jarrett photo
Jacob Jarrett

BFA '17

Theater - Directing, Playwriting & Production (BFA)
Music-directed ’Noise,’ upcoming new musical ’Wonder Boi’
Monique Chambers Headshot
Monique Chambers

'21

Theater - Directing, Playwriting & Production (BFA)
Theater shot from 'Edison' directed by Joshua Logan Walker at UArts
Joshua Logan Walker

'17

Theater - Directing, Playwriting & Production (BFA)
Dante Green photo
Dante Green

BFA '19

Theater - Directing, Playwriting & Production (BFA)

Careers

The Brind School is dedicated to setting its alumni up for successful careers in the theater industry, both by helping students develop deep expertise in technical skills and theater-making competencies and by connecting them with industry professionals and career development opportunities in theater production.

Graduates with a Directing, Playwriting and Production BFA can find themselves working in a variety of roles. Some career options for those pursuing theater making include:

  • Playwright
  • Dramaturg
  • Artistic Director
  • Stage Manager
  • Casting Professional
  • Director
  • Producer
  • Theater Manager
  • Theater Teacher

Students in the program are required to complete an internship, and many do so at one of the region’s many theatrical companies. Graduates of the Ira Brind School have gone on to complete internships at:

  • The Wilma
  • Arden Theatre Company
  • Quintessence Theatre Group
  • Keystone Sign & Co. Sign Painting
  • Janell Wysock Textiles
  • Philamoca
  • Creative Edge Center for the Arts
  • All Ages Productions
  • Everybody’s Theater Company
  • Klip Collective
  • LeVonne Lindsay Costume Design

Alumni and current students of the Directing Playwriting and Production program have found work at the following theaters and organizations:

  • The Wilma
  • Arden Theater Company
  • Azuka Theater
  • PlayPenn
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Lantern Theater
  • Fulton Theatre
  • 1812 Productions
  • Applied Mechanics
  • Fringe Arts
  • Shakespeare in Clark Park
  • Bearded Ladies
  • SoLow Fest
  • Simpatico Theatre
  • Theater Exile

They also found work and have had a presence at: Walnut Street Theater, InterAct Theatre, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Delaware Shakespeare, Teatro del Sol, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Quintessence Theatre, Pig Iron Theater.

Events

The Ira Brind School of Theater Arts brings together many talents and skills, and offers many lively, engaging opportunities for students, faculty, staff and the public to engage with theater arts and students’ work.

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Fall Senior Project Festival

Fall Senior Project Festival

Caplan Studio Theater
Tech - 10/13-10/20
Performances - 10/21-10/30

In the Green, music, lyrics & book by Grace McLean
Directed by Bryant Gipull Garcia (he/him), DPP ‘23

In The Green tells the story of two women: Jutta von Sponheim & Hildegard of Bingen (Yes, the famous one). Together they spend 30 years locked inside the cell of a monastery in medieval Germany. But this is no ordinary medieval story. Jutta is on a quest to erase her history in order to be set free. Hildegard, a girl in three pieces (HAND, EYE, MOUTH), has been broken by her past experiences and wants to become whole again. In a shared journey of isolation, Hildegard and Jutta embark on a brave journey of facing their truth, reclaiming their voices, celebrating life and death, and embracing who they are, revealing the light that burns bright inside all of us.

In The Green is a new musical by Grace McLean. In The Green earned McLean the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Lead Actress and Richard Rodgers Awards for Musical Theater. Grace McLean is most well-known for premiering the role of Marya Dmitrievna in Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 on Broadway.

 

This Beautiful City, by The Civilians, written by Steve Cosson, music & lyrics by Michael Friedman
directed by Max Segarnick (he/him), DPP ‘23

Conceived by investigative theatre company The Civilians, This Beautiful City is a true documentary musical about a community subjected to intense change. The piece explores the gradual influence of Evangelical mega-churches on the social, political, and spiritual lives of Colorado Springs residents in the early 2000s. Part verbatim theatre, part campfire story, part study in social psychology, the songs and stories of This Beautiful City set out to discover the relationship between community development and extremism, and what it takes to achieve Queer liberation within Christian fundamentalism.

 

Woyzeck, by Georg Büchner
directed by Ryan Cramer (she/her), DPP ‘23

Woyzeck by Georg Büchner is set in the early 19th century in a small German town occupied by the military. Woyzeck, a soldier garrisoned in the town goes through poverty and power struggles with his child and his lover. Woyzeck’s financial struggles lead him to taking odd and terrible jobs from his superior, which further degrades him and pushes him further from the life he believes he deserves. These struggles ultimately lead to his downfall.

This 75-minute reduction of the script will focus on themes of poverty, power, and violence present in the play and in German politics at the time the play was written (approx. 1836, just before the writing of the communist manifesto). This production will use the styles prevalent at the time of its first production in 1913 (realism, naturalism), while also incorporating clowning, aspects of epic theater, and absurdism. Actors in the production will be “garrisoned” in the Caplan Studio Theater, surrounding and immersing the audience in the event. The combination of the story, styles and themes will highlight current day class struggles and lead to an exciting and new production of Woyzeck.

Senior Project Event

Senior Project Event

Caplan Studio Theater
Tech 12/1-12/7
Performances 12/8-12/11

Alchemic Oddities, curated and directed by Robyn Honabach (she/her), DPP ‘23

Alchemic Oddities is a curated drag show centered around the trans experience, blending student written poetry, student written songs, and of course conceptual drag lip syncs. Using the art form and structure of a drag show we will artistically and dramatically showcase our unique individual stories and experiences through awe striking, dramatic, campy, beautiful numbers. An outside professional drag artist from the Philly drag scene will both host the show and help mentor newer drag artists!

This project is not following traditional audition structure. If you are a trans artist interested in performing, or in submitting original work to be performed in the piece, or both, please look for the Canvas posting soon with details.

Brind School Season

Brind School Season

The Brind School presents an annual season of work, which includes projects led by students, faculty and celebrated guest artists from the national and local theater scenes.

Through its dozens of performances each year–including the annual Polyphone Festival of New and Emerging Musicals – the Brind School is both a school and a producing company.

Auditions are open to all Brind School students.

Get tickets for Brind School productions.

About the Brind School

The Ira Brind School of Theater Arts is primed to nourish the individual artistic voice of each student, encouraging the development of advanced skills and an expanded point of view. Graduates of the Brind School can count on their practical experience in a thoroughly equipped and well-connected theater ecosystem to pursue careers in theater as fearless, innovative and adaptable creators. The Brind School imbues students with strong identities as innovators and citizen artists.

The Brind School is tailored for those who want to achieve and excel in performance and stagecraft. The Brind School’s faculty includes 60 instructors, the majority of which are current theater professionals. Alumni regularly return to UArts as educators and hold central positions in Philadelphia’s theater culture, creating a powerful home base for extending students’ creative community far beyond campus.

Learn more about The Brind School of Theater Arts

Venues and Learning and Practice Spaces 

The Brind School is primarily located in the Terra Building at 211 S. Broad St. Spaces include seminar rooms and classrooms, as well as studios for individual voice, speech, dance, movement and acting instruction. 

We also utilize five public performance venues.

  • ArtsBank Theater: 230 seats

  • Laurie Beechman Cabaret Theater: 60 seats

  • Caplan Recital Hall: 200 seats

  • Caplan Studio Theater: 90 seats

  • Levitt Auditorium: 700 seats

A production shop, a costume shop, a design studio, a lighting lab, areas for both property and costume stock, and a fully equipped video editing studio round out the comprehensive theater experience Brind provides.

Collaborative Learning Opportunities

Our Theater Design and Technology and Directing, Playwriting and Production programs also focus on technique supported by extended collaborative learning opportunities in production. Opportunities abound for master classes, guest speakers, internships and apprenticeships with both nationally prominent guest artists and Philadelphia’s many professional companies.

Through its dozens of performances each year–including the annual Polyphone Festival of New and Emerging Musicals–the Brind School is both a school and a producing company. We present an annual season of work which includes projects led by students, faculty and renowned guest artists from the national and local theater scenes. Auditions are open to all Brind School students.

How to Apply

UArts offers recommended priority deadlines; students who apply and submit all required materials by the priority deadline will receive first consideration for scholarship aid from UArts. Applications received after the priority deadline will be reviewed on a rolling, space-available basis. 

International students requiring an F-1 visa for study in the U.S. might be subject to earlier deadlines to provide time for completion of the visa process. Contact Admissions for guidance if you are an international student who wishes to apply after the priority deadline.

Spring 2023 priority deadline: Oct. 15, 2022

Fall 2023 priority deadline: Feb. 15, 2023

We cannot accept spring 2023 applications after Jan. 9, 2023, and cannot accept fall 2023 applications after Aug. 11, 2023.

The following materials are required for your application.

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A completed application for admission

Start or resume your application. 

  • The application includes two required short-answer questions: What excites you about UArts? What inspires you?

A nonrefundable $60 application fee
  • If you qualify for a fee waiver from NACAC, CollegeBoard, UArts or another source, indicate that on your application. If the cost of the application fee is a barrier, contact Admissions to request a fee waiver code.

Official high school transcript
  • Official transcripts must be sent directly from your school by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

  • International transcript requirements 

  • Transfer student transcript requirements

    • High school transcripts may be waived for transfer applicants who have completed a minimum of 24 credits of college-level coursework, including a minimum of 18 academic, non-studio credits.

    • Official college transcript(s)

      • Official transcripts must be sent directly from all the colleges you have attended by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

      • If you’ve attended college outside the U.S., you are required to have an official course-by-course evaluation of your college coursework sent to UArts. Additional guidelines for international transcripts are available

Your audition/interview
International applicants must submit proof of English proficiency.
Optional letters of recommendation
  • Letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors are optional and may be submitted by the recommender via email to undergradcredentials@uarts.edu or by your high school through a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

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