MFA Directing

Postgraduate, Full-time

Directing MFA



Our two-year MFA gives you the opportunity to launch your career as a director with a full run in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Overview

This course has been launched to extend a great opportunity for trainee directors.

Working in the heart of the festival city, there will be time to work with actors on all years of the BA Acting & English and the BA Acting for Stage & Screen courses.

You'll be working on contemporary and classic texts and alongside trainee playwrights to create new work. 

You'll have dedicated industry-recognised mentors providing support throughout your training time and you’ll be studying in one of the most culturally-vibrant cities in the world.

The two-year duration gives you time to truly develop skills and creativity, and also allows you to network and build relationships with actors and writers who can make an impact on your career after you graduate.
Students on stage chatting as they work on Shakespeare

Mode of Study:

Full-time

Duration:

2 years

Start date:

Sep

Course details

We believe that there is no standard approach to the training of theatre directors.  The art is a combination of visual, textual, and communicative acuity and every director is unique.  For that reason the course is designed to be individually responsive to each student’s interests and experience.  Most modules are heavily mentor-based, which means that you always have advice, expertise, and guidance on hand as you explore your artistic potential.

The courses are taught by a team of industry professionals: Mark Thomson (Directing) has worked with most of the great names in British theatre and served as Artistic Director of Edinburgh's prestigious Lyceum Theatre for 13 years. 

May Sumbwanyambe is an award-winning playwright currently working with the National Theatre of Scotland, the Traverse, and the BBC, to name just a few.

Modules:
  • Dramatic Story and Structure 
  • Script Analysis 
  • Design and Metaphor
  • Applied Directing 
  • Professional Preparation
  • Festival Production
  • calendar How you’ll be taught The course is structured over 5 trimesters and, along with many opportunities to direct various projects and to assistant direct public shows, you’ll learn by a variety of teaching methods including lectures, tutorials and independent study.
  • note and pen Assessments The majority of your assessments are based on a variety of practical performances and are the culmination of workshops and focused rehearsals, supported by tutorials.

Modules

Modules that you will study* as part of this course

Applied Directing 1 ( CLP11124 )

Each student will have 5 hours per term of individual tutorial time, and 30 group hours of master classes in staging and composition, working with actors, production management, and other allied areas involved in practical production.
You will serve as Assistant Director for a significant scene, under the direction of a staff tutor. Additionally, you will also work with the Postgraduate playwrights to mount directed readings at the end of the trimester and you will also direct one piece of your own choice.
You will maintain a ‘blog’/online discussion through Moodle of your experience throughout the term.

Further information

Applied Directing 2 ( CLP11126 )

You will have 25 hours of individual tutorial time, which you may elect to use either as face-to-face tutorial or as supervision in a working context. The trimester will begin with your choice of either a mini-placement or a case-study (which you will arrange in agreement with your supervisor). The placement/case study can be with any theatre or Theatre Company and should allow you the opportunity to observe. You will write either a placement report or the case study. The module will culminate in a preview public showing of your work, which is suitable for a run at Edinburgh Festival Fringe. In the final part of the trimester, you will write a brief analytical and reflective piece on your practical experience of the preview production, outlining your own and others’ critical response to the preview and your plans for adjusting/amending things in preparation for a public festival run. In addition, your essay will set out a series of goals in preparation for taking the show to the festival and beyond.

Further information

Design and Metaphor ( CLP11128 )

Starting with a brief history of theatre design, this module will then move into more practical studies. A series of small ‘etudes’ will allow you to employ visual and aural elements to express creative interpretations of brief scenes, and will gradually increase in both length and complexity of challenge. You will research, resource and select presentation ideas in seminar and then, as a group, respond to the ideas through a series of creative ‘interventions’. The final assessment will encompass work with Acting students to convey specific design/sound ideas in relation to a given scene presentation. This assessment will be accompanied by a 1000-word illustrated essay that will analyse the design concepts in terms of ‘scalability’ (both in terms of space and resources).

Further information

Dramatic Story and Structure ( CLP11129 )

Beginning with an intensive week of instruction (20 hours), you will focus on developing a critical understanding of the elements of dramatic story-telling (character, dialogue, plot, visuals, theme, etc.), language and tropes and on the varieties of dramatic structure – from simple chronological narrative to more sophisticated techniques of time-manipulation and exploitation of suspense. You will face a set of project-based challenges in order to consolidate your learning. You will have regular tutorials throughout the trimester to monitor progress and discuss ideas, and each project will have observation/mentoring time as agreed (6 hours) through weekly tutorials and rehearsals. Each of these project-based challenges will be set with increasing time requirements. Examples might include:

A two-minute opening ‘montage’ with minimal dialogue, adapted from a painting, sculpture or piece of music.
A three-minute scene adapted from a poem or short story.
A three to four-minute minute scene adapted from a current event news story
A final project scene adaptation from any source.

Projects will be produced in collaboration with directors and playwrights, Napier graduate actors, and with students on the Acting & English and the Acting for Stage & Screen courses.
During your ‘mini-placement’ you will be expected to work with and support a full scale in house production for the Acting programmes at Edinburgh Napier as a production assistant. You will have opportunity to observe how texts are realised by experienced directors, while learning some of the practicalities of realizing a stage production.

The module culminates in a workshop presentation, where directors and playwrights will be teamed with actors to create a piece of original drama adapted from an extant source. You will accompany this final project with an analytical essay (1000 words).

Further information

Festival Production Directing ( CLP11135 )

This module focuses on launching your professional career, along with creating and potentially presenting work at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Working from your reflective analysis of the preview production, you will be given the opportunity to go on to present your work publicly at the Fringe Festival, and you will be working to bridge your experience as a training director into the world of professional work. Meeting with mentors in the early stages, you will outline a development plan and rehearsal schedule, which will include workshop/rehearsal times as well as production/tech schedules. Also included in these early plans will be a detailed marketing/media campaign. Mentors will work specifically with you for a set number of hours, but there will also be staff mentors assigned to the acting students, which will further ensure support and help throughout the critical rehearsal period. In addition to the festival production, all directors will submit a 2-part thesis (approx. 7,000 words), which combines critical reflection on the Festival experience and on the artistic presentation of the play, along with a professional portfolio and career/business plan.

Further information

Festival Workshop ( CLP11130 )

For Directors, this module will begin with a chosen scene presentation. The scene is expected to stretch your imagination particularly in terms of style and you will be choosing the scene with the approval of your supervisor. Throughout the module there will be series of intensive classes which will focus on the development of new material. These classes will involve strategies for enhancing creativity, effective group communication, setting the stage for innovative work, sympathetic listening and responding, and enhancing group problem-solving abilities. Along with these classes, directors and writers will have scheduled rehearsal times with actors, and will be focused on honing short sample scripts (10-15 mins each) and performance for Edinburgh Festival ‘backer’s auditions’ at the end of trimester. You will have 5 hours of individual mentoring time. Additionally, you will present a written paper on the proposed future of the scenes shown at the auditions – for the directors, this will take the form of directorial concepts (with design and production ideas) and for the playwrights this will take the form of treatments outlining each play proposal presented.

Further information

Professional Practice ( CLP11131 )

You will attend a series of classes, many delivered by visiting professionals, introducing necessary business and self-management skills. You will prepare a thoroughly researched case study of the career path of either a director, playwright or theatre company. You will have ‘mock-interview’ sessions in which you will present work, pitch ideas, present portfolios, and business plans and get immediate feedback from industry professionals. You will also be expected to produce a professional opportunities analysis, for which you will research and identify opportunities for your work once you have completed the course. These may include placements, resident writer/director schemes, funding opportunities, writing competitions, etc.
Areas covered will include:
-- Business planning
-- Production and small company finance
-- Effective marketing, including online presence, social media, etc.
-- Setting up and running a small theatre company
-- Self-promotion and networking
-- Mock interviews
-- Establishing Professional Networks
-- How to research and write a case study

Further information

Script Analysis ( CLP11132 )

Working in a small tutorial group, you will be focusing on a number of plays, ranging from Greek drama to the present day. Along with conducting appropriate contextual research, you will be carrying out a literary analysis of form, style, structure, language and thematic ideas. Each play will be examined in terms of the very specific challenges it poses in practical production. There will be two projects to complete – one purely analytical in terms of the relationships between language, character and narrative; and one (theoretically) practical in which a number of challenges are identified, along with a series of proposed practical solutions in production. Your presentation and resultant peer exchange will form a significant part of the learning and early in the term a calendar of presentation dates will be agreed.

Further information

* These are indicative only and reflect the course structure in the current academic year. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

Disclaimer

Study modules mentioned above are indicative only. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

Placement and study abroad opportunities are subject to UK and Scottish Government health and travel advice.

Full information is available in our disclaimer.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

The entry requirement for this course is a Bachelor (Honours) Degree at 2:2 or above, with a background in Drama or Humanities.

We may also consider lesser qualifications if you have sufficient professional work experience within the industry.


English Language requirements 

If your first language isn't English, you'll normally need to undertake an approved English language test.  The English Language requirements for this programme are IELTS (Academic) with 7.0 with no individual component score less than 6.5.  For guidance on the acceptability of other English Language tests please contact pgadmissions@napier.ac.uk

This may not apply if you have completed all your school qualifications in English, or your undergraduate degree was taught and examined in English (within two years of starting your postgraduate course). Check our country pages to find out if this applies to you.

International students

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
Entry requirements by country

Please note that international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:
  • BN Nursing/MSc Nursing (Pre-registration) (Adult, Mental Health, Child, Learning Disabilities)
  • BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery

Admissions policies

We’re committed to admitting students who have the potential to succeed and benefit from our programmes of study. 

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures, and how we use the information you provide us in your application to inform the decisions we make.

Undergraduate admissions policies
Postgraduate admissions policies

Fees & funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you will depend on a number of factors including your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. We also have a number of bursaries and scholarships available to our students.



Careers

While we can’t predict the future, we can be certain that an ever-expanding range of entertainment platforms will require an ever-expanding range of content.

We believe that directors trained in the core skills of good story-telling, inspiring great performance, working effectively and creatively in a collaborative environment, preparing and adhering to schedules and budgets, and understanding a variety of marketing possibilities will be able to adapt their work to a variety of platforms. 

This course aims to train such graduates, who can see unlimited potential and a variety of opportunities for themselves in the entertainment industry.

Black and white image of Students on the MFA Directors course working on a sound system for the Shakespeare production