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 Advanced Theatre Practice

These courses are aimed at those wishing to play a leading role in tomorrow’s new performance and theatre-making worlds. Students will collaborate with a group of practising and aspiring theatre practitioners, and engage in a collaborative laboratory for practical experiment to imagine and realise the theatre of the future.

About the course

As an active participant in the MA or MFA Advanced Theatre Practice, you will:

  • Participate in workshops with leading professionals;
  • Learn to research and extend your own practice;
  • Launch a company, make new work, and, on the MA, 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;
  • Build on the tradition of theatre-making as a communicative medium of exchange, i.e. through working with digital media;
  • If an MFA student, have excellent opportunities to work for an extended period with a number of distinguished external companies.

Course Detail

MA and first year MFA students work together for Terms One to Three of this course (starting in October). MFA students then continue into a second year, enabling the development of further projects and professional connections outside the School.

MA and MFA courses

Students 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. They are supported in this process of growth and development, gradually becoming stronger, more articulate theatre practitioners, better able to work flexibly and constructively with others, and extending the boundaries of theatre and how it might be seen.

Term Four of the MA is focused on taking work to an audience beyond Central.

MFA course

The MFA second year deepens and extends this opportunity for independent professional development outside the School while still retaining a degree of contact and guidance from your tutors.


Practice is assessed 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 assessment process.

Both courses will prepare students for the Sustained Independent Project:

  • MA students you will take a performance work 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 their work, undertaking a more developed and independent version of the Sustained Independent Project outside the School during their second year.

Further details about the MFA second year available from the course tutors before or in an admissions interview.

Download MA/MFA Advanced Theatre Practice Course Specification 2016-2017 (849.66 KB)

Professional Focus

Recent Visiting Staff

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).

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.


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.


View profiles of the academic staff who teach on this course. Click on each staff member to see their CV.

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

Beyond Central

Graduate employment and career pathways include:

Performers, Theatre Makers, Directors, Writers, Producers, Dramaturgs, Lighting Designers, Puppeteers, Critics, Scenographers, Sound Designers, Casting Director, Outreach Officers, Technical Directors, and Assistant Directors in companies including the Royal Court Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Camden People’s Theatre, Theatre 503, Hampstead Theatre, English National Opera, High Tide Festival, Complicite, Frantic Assembly, Globe Theatre, MKA Theatre of New Writing Australia, Melbourne Theatre Company and National Theatres of Finland, Iceland and the UK.

Founder members of companies including: Analogue, New International Encounter, 1927, Grid Iron, Blind Summit, Peut-être, Dante or Die, Unpacked and Shunt.

Artistic Directors: Battersea Arts Centre, Traverse Theatre, Camden People’s Theatre, Actors Centre Touring Company, Chapter Arts Centre, Chuncheon International Mime Festival and AsiaNow.

Involvement in festivals and exhibitions: across the UK and mainland Europe,  including - Edinburgh Festival (more than half 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 Teatre de Titelles de Lleida, Spain (Drac d'Or Julieta Agusti);  Salzburg Festival; Theatertreffen;  Avignon Festival;  Zagreb Theatre Festival and Sirenos Festival, Vilnius.

Research Degrees: Graduates have undertaken PhDs at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Oxford University, Goldsmiths University and Queen Mary University of London, for example.

Academic posts: Manchester Metropolitan University, The University of Wales, and Brunel University. The first two students to receive PhD awards at Central were graduates of this course.

Individual awards include: James Menzies-Kitchin Award (3); 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 Theatre 503 Award; Arts Foundation Fellowship; Olivier Award nominations; and Evening Standard Theatre Awards longlist, Best Director, Best Designer, Best New Play and Outstanding Newcomer.


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.

Related Courses


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.

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