Advanced Theatre Practice, MA/MFA

Duration: MA: 1 year, full-time; MFA: 2 years, full time*. October start. Full-time, on-site attendance between July and October not mandatory, although MA students are required to show work outside Central during this period. (* MFA subject to approval.)

Award: Master of Arts in Advanced Theatre Practice (180 credits); Master of Fine Arts in Advanced Theatre Practice (240 credits).

MA / MFA Advanced Theatre Practice at Central

About the course

As a student on the MA or MFA Advanced Theatre Practice at Central, you can expect to:

  • Engage in a collaborative laboratory for practical experiment
  • Create new work for an extensive range of public encounters
  • Play a leading role in tomorrow’s performance and theatre making worlds.

Benefits of the programme

  • Develop experience from extensive workshops with leading professionals, learning to research and extend your own practice, launch a company, make new work, and, on the MA, finally take this to an audience beyond Central
  • Extend the roles of performer, director, writer, designer, dramaturg, puppeteer, musician, artist, or creative thinker in new and unexpected ways within a supportive atmosphere of discovery and innovation
  • Become involved in web-based technologies and digital media, building on the tradition of theatre making as a communicative medium of exchange, or inspired by the current wave of experimental directors, explore the distinct roles of director or performer working with text in contemporary theatre
  • Have opportunities to take work made on the course to festivals and events outside the School, for example, Camden People’s Theatre, Istropolitana Projekt (Slovakia), Zlomvaz Festival (Prague), Marathon Festival (Jerusalem), Blalystok Festival (Poland), Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and Prague Quadriennale
  • Join a network of distinguished alumni, including winners of Olivier, Total Theatre, Irish Times, Deutsche Bank, Rolex Mentor and Protégée, JMK, Allen Wright, Linbury and Evening Standard Theatre Awards, changing the way we work and think about theatre
  • Have excellent opportunities, if undertaking the MFA, to work for an extended period with a number of distinguished external companies. You will be part of a carefully selected group who wish to pool your resources and imagine the theatre of the future.

Course Detail

In the first year of the MFA, you will join the MA students for Terms One to Three.

The MFA then extends into a second year beginning in October, enabling the development of further projects and professional connections outside the School. Working together during this initial period of creative growth, you will develop experience from the intensive workshop atmosphere of Term One, through learning to research and extending practice in Term Two, to launching a company or the approach to making new work in Term Three.

You will be supported in this process of growth and development, gradually enabling you to become a stronger, more articulate practitioner, better able to work flexibly and constructively with others, extending the boundaries of theatre and how it might be seen.

Term Four of the MA focuses on taking work to an audience of choice beyond Central.

The MFA second year deepens and extends this opportunity for independent professional development beyond Central, while still retaining a degree of contact and guidance from tutors. An MFA top-up year for those with an existing MA in this subject is also available.

Assessment

Practice is evaluated throughout the first three terms through continuous assessment of contribution to the rehearsal/development process, combined with essays reflecting on this work in the broader context of contemporary theatre practice. Peer assessment also forms a part of the evaluation process.

The course prepares you for the Sustained Independent Project. Those undertaking the MA will take a performance work that has been made with colleagues to a documented encounter with a public audience during the summer.

MFA students will choose from a list of possible approaches and means of documenting your work, undertaking a more developed and independent version of the Sustained Independent Project beyond Central during your second year.

Download MA/MFA Advanced Theatre Practice Programme Specification 2017-2018 (990.42 KB)

Entry Requirements and Admissions

You will normally have good knowledge and experience of at least one of theatre-making discipline (i.e. performance, directing, writing, design, dramaturgy, puppetry, music, visual art), together with a strong desire to bring this expertise to an experimental theatre-making environment. Alternatively, you may be an outstanding individual from another discipline, with an evident desire to explore interdisciplinary practice. You should normally have an undergraduate degree in a relevant field, (drama, theatre or performance studies) though applications from students of other disciplines will be considered. Applications for the accreditation of prior experience in lieu of academic qualification will also be considered where appropriate. An offer will normally only be made after interview.

We particularly encourage applications from groups currently under-represented in higher education, such as students with disabilities and members of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups. Find out more information on Central’s commitment to equality and diversity.

English Language Requirements

Applicants for whom English is not their first language are required to prove their English language proficiency by gaining an overall score of 7.0 in an IELTS test, or equivalent. Applicants are advised to gain this certification as early as possible.

Interviews

If you are selected for an interview for a place on the Advanced Theatre Practice MA or MFA, you can expect the following:

Applicants will usually be seen as part of a group. You will remain together for much of the day, and will have a chance to learn more about the course and ask questions. You will find the day quite relaxed, informal, and hopefully enjoyable.

During the morning, you will be asked to participate in a workshop related to Aesop’s Fables – so whatever your background, you will find it helpful to have a good working knowledge of this text. Aesop’s Fables exist in a number of languages and translations, and you may wish to make use of any of these. They can also be found on the internet. As a guide, we refer you to ‘Mercury and the Woodman’, ‘The Wolf and the Lamb’, and ‘The Fox and the Crow’.

You will have an opportunity to make a short presentation to the group, demonstrating your current skills and experience, and suitability for the course. For this part of the interview you should prepare one of the following:

  • a portfolio presentation of about three minutes concentrating mainly on one example of your previous work
  • an original, non-verbal performance of any nature, on any subject, which is a maximum of two minutes in length.

You may also bring with you an edited portfolio of your previous work, for discussion, where you feel this is appropriate.

You should wear (or bring with you) comfortable clothing suitable for active work, and leave the day clear of other commitments.

The interview process will also give you an opportunity to find out more about the course and the School.

International Interviews

Each year Central hosts a number of interviews outside of the UK, with a team of tutors from Central traveling to meet applicants. The international interviews are designed to replicate the London-based interview experience in every aspect (other than a tour of our site). See our Event Finder for listings of upcoming interview locations and dates.

Distance Interviews

Central does allow applicants to undertake a distance interview for this course. If you live abroad and are unable to attend an interview in person you may, at the discretion of the Admissions Tutor, be offered the opportunity of a distance interview. If you are selected for interview in this manner you will be contacted (normally by email) in order to arrange a suitable time for an interview. This will be conducted on Skype, telephone or by ‘live’ email exchange and will normally be based upon material you will have been asked to submit in advance. The interview will be conducted by the Admissions Tutor in liaison with a colleague who will have sight of your submitted materials.

For further information see the Postgraduate Applications section.

International Students

Visit the International Students section to view details of English language requirements for Central's courses.

Graduate Employment & Industry

Graduate employment and career pathways include:

  • Performers
  • Theatre Makers
  • Directors
  • Writers
  • Producers
  • Dramaturgs
  • Lighting Designers
  • Puppeteers
  • Critics
  • Scenographers
  • Sound Designers
  • Casting Directors
  • Outreach Officers
  • Technical Directors
  • Assistant Directors

in companies including: the Royal Court Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Camden People’s Theatre, Theatre503, Hampstead Theatre, English National Opera, High Tide Festival, Complicite, Frantic Assembly, Shakespeare’s Globe, MKA Theatre of New Writing Australia, Melbourne Theatre Company and National Theatres of Finland, Iceland and the UK.

Founder members of companies

  • Analogue
  • New International Encounter
  • 1927
  • Grid Iron
  • Blind Summit
  • Peut-Être
  • Dante or Die
  • Unpacked
  • Shunt.

Artistic Directors

  • Battersea Arts Centre
  • Traverse Theatre
  • Camden People’s Theatre
  • The Actors Centre Touring Company
  • Gate Theatre Dublin
  • Chapter Arts Centre
  • Chuncheon International Mime Festival
  • AsiaNow.

Participation in festivals and exhibitions

Across the UK and mainland Europe, including:

  • the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (more than half of Total Theatre Awards in one year);
  • ASSITEJ World Congress in Copenhagen (ASSITEJ Award for Artistic Excellence),
  • Kontrapunkt Festival, Poland Grand Prix;
  • International Festival of Puppetry Art, Poland Grand Prix;
  • Fira de Titelles de Lleida, Spain (Drac d’Or Julieta Agusti);
  • Salzburg Festival;
  • Theatertreffen;
  • Avignon Festival;
  • Zagreb Theatre Festival
  • Sirenos Festival, Vilnius.

Individual awards

  • Arts Council (for productions partly developed with current students),
  • James Menzies-Kitchin Award (three), The Linbury Prize for Stage Design, Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative,
  • Trinity Guildhall International Playwriting Competition,
  • Best Director and Best Production Irish Times Theatre Awards,
  • Peter Brook Empty Space Awards,
  • Stage Electrics Award for Lighting,
  • New Sensations,
  • Channel 4 and Saatchi Gallery shortlist,
  • Allen Wright Award,
  • Old Vic New Voices Theatre503 Award,
  • Arts Foundation Fellowship,
  • Olivier Award nominations,
  • Evening Standard Theatre Awards longlist,
  • Best Director, Best Designer, Best New Play and Outstanding Newcomer.

Academic posts

  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • The University of Wales
  • Brunel University London.

PhDs

  • Central
  • Oxford University
  • Goldsmiths
  • Queen Mary University of London.

The first two students to receive PhD awards at Central were graduates of this course.

What our students said

Jessica Swale
Jessica Swale graduated from MA Advanced Theatre Practice at Central in 2006

Graduated 2006, playwright, theatre director and screenwriter. Founder member of Red Handed Theatre Company, winning the Peter Brook Empty Space Ensemble Award and an Evening Standard Theatre Award nomination for Best Director. Her first play, Blue Stockings, premiered at Shakespeare’s Globe in 2013. Her recent play Nell Gwynn won the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, transferring from the Globe to London’s West End, starring Gemma Arterton.

The course played a vital role in deepening and expanding my knowledge and experience of actor training. In facilitating a detailed examination of my own practice and equipping me with an understanding of current issues, informing teaching and learning in vocational training and Higher Education, my time at Central played a significant role in opening up opportunities and preparing me for a viable future in the field.

Rob Drummer
Rob Drummer

Graduated 2010, currently Associate Dramaturg at the Bush Theatre, London.

Coming to Central as a Director, the course has equipped me with all of the creative skills that have seen me through these first several years of my career, including how I engage with playwrights at the Bush as Associate Dramaturg. The course, in its collaborative ethos, with real focus on questioning stories and storytelling whilst building contemporary theatre, was a challenge and a foundation for my work.

Staff on the Course

View profiles of the academic staff who teach on this course. Click on each staff member to find out more about them.

Nicholas Wood, BA, PGCert, MA

Senior Lecturer, Course Leader MA/MFA Advanced Theatre Practice

Dr. Lynne Kendrick, BA, MA, PhD, FRSA

Senior Lecturer, New Theatre Practices

Jessica Bowles, BA

Principal Lecturer, Course Leader MA/MFA Creative Producing

Ayşe Tashkiran, BA, PGCert

Senior Lecturer, Co-Course Leader MA/MFA Movement: Directing and Teaching

Notable Graduates

Notable graduates of this course include:

Tim Crouch (1993) Writer, actor, and performance maker.

David Jubb (1998) Artistic Director, Battersea Arts Centre and Chair of the London Theatre Consortium.

David Rosenberg, Hannah Ringham, Lizzie Clachan, Mischa Twitchin, Louise Mari, Serena Bobowski, Gemma Brockis, Andrew Rutland, and Heather Uprichard (1997) The Shunt Collective.

Orla O’Loughlin Artistic Director, Traverse Theatre.

Duncan Macmillan Writer, Melanie Wilson Sound Designer, and Lizzie Clachan Designer - Leading Team with Katie Mitchell - The Forbidden Zone, Salzburg Festival.

Jessica Swale Writer Blue Stockings, Shakespeare’s Globe and also performed at Central.

Recent Visiting Professionals

  • Katie Mitchell OBE (Director)
  • Clare Lizzimore (Director, Young Vic)
  • Joe Hill-Gibbins (Director, National Theatre)
  • Hannah Ringham (Founder Member, Shunt)
  • Duncan Macmillan (Writer, National Theatre)
  • Selina Cartmell (Director, Abbey Theatre)
  • Guy Dartnell (Associate Artist, Improbable)
  • Mark Down (Artistic Director, Blind Summit)
  • Liam Steel (Choreographer, DV8)
  • Steve Kirkham (Choreographer, Frantic Assembly)
  • Tim Crouch (Writer and Performer, Tim Crouch Theatre)
  • Stephen Mottram (Artistic Director, Animata)
  • Julian Maynard Smith (Artistic Director, Station House Opera)
  • Andy Purves (Lighting Designer, Frantic Assembly)
  • Daphna Attias (Artistic Director, Peut-Être Theatre and Dante or Die)
  • Mischa Twitchin (Founder, Shunt Theatre)
  • Douglas O’Connell (New Media Artist, Filter)
  • Kate McGrath (Founder, Fuel)
  • Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones (Founders, Handspring Puppet Company)
  • Sophie De Somere (Designer, Ontroerend Goed, Belgium)
  • Hester Chillingworth (GETINTHEBACKOFTHEVAN)
  • Melanie Wilson (Sound Designer, Schaubühne Theatre, Berlin)
  • Chris Goode (Lead Artist, Chris Goode and Company),
  • David Harradine (Artistic Director, Fevered Sleep)
  • Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Actor, Barbican)
Register for email updates