Graduate Catalog
Policies, Procedures, Academic Programs
Theatre Arts
College of Liberal Arts & Human Sciences
Infirmary; original section, built in 1876, used as home for presidents until converted, along with a 1902 addition, into an infirmary. Named after Dr. William F. Henderson who was the college physician from 1890 to 1935.
195 Alumni Mall, Henderson Hall, Mail Code:0141 Blacksburg VA 24061
Henderson Hall
Degree(s) Offered:
MFA Degree in Theatre Arts
Minimum GPA: 3.0
Offered In:
Email Contact(s):
Web Resource(s):
Phone Number(s):
Application Deadlines:
Fall: Jan 12
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Henderson Hall

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Department Chair : Natasha Staley
Program Director : Jacqueline Bixler
Graduate Program Director : Christopher Russo
Professors: Robert Leonard; Patricia Raun
Associate Professors: John Ambrosone; Amanda Nelson
Assistant Professors: Jane Stein; Tatiana Vintu
Professor of Practice: Christopher Russo
Instructors: Kathryn Murphy

Theatre Arts Introduction

The Theatre and Cinema program, in the School of Performing Arts, is a highly successful and innovative program that is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theatre and was the first program in the state to attain that status. The department offers a Master of Fine Arts degree in Theatre Arts, which is designed to train students for professional employment and leadership in the field, while providing a terminal degree in the profession. Areas of concentration include Theatre Design/Tech (scenographic, lighting, costume, properties, and technical direction), Directing & Public Dialogue, Arts Leadership, and Stage Management.

The M.F.A. program focuses on an individualized plan of study for each student, characterized by one-on-one tutorials or small classes, realized production work, and close mentoring by faculty artists. This is surrounded by a vision of professional training that is most concerned with the formation of an individually specific attitude toward the artistic process, a way of thinking based on the ever-changing realities of today's arts world. It is a vision grounded in collaboration, relevance, and sustainability, favoring knowledge of current affairs and professional practices within an awareness of our sometimes common, sometimes separate, cultural heritages.

Each M.F.A. candidate participates in the mounting of productions in the department, working side by side with faculty and staff. The annual production season generally includes four fully mounted main stage shows, workshop productions, and occasional summer shows. A strong relationship exists with the Moss Arts Center and the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT), where students are provided further experiential opportunities. In addition, students have frequently worked on productions outside the department, both on and off campus, locally and beyond. A professional internship also is required for completion of the degree.

The program remains small by design, accepting only a few students each year, to allow maximum production opportunities for the M.F.A. student. Every student accepted into the program is awarded an assistantship and full tuition waiver. Our graduates have been exceptionally successful in gaining employment upon completion of the degree.

Interested persons are encouraged to visit our web site ( to discover more about us.

Financial Aid

A full assistantship is provided to each student accepted into the program and is renewable each year, dependent on satisfactory progress toward the degree. The assistantship also includes a full tuition scholarship and out-of-state fee waiver. To be eligible for the assistantship and tuition waiver, a student must be enrolled for a minimum of 12 credit hours each semester, three of which may be undergraduate level course work.
Offered In (Blacksburg)

Degree Requirements

Minimum GPA: 3.0
Institution code: 5859
Testing Requirements:
    • Paper
      • 550.0
    • Computer
      • 213.0
    • iBT
      • 80.0
Completion of the MFA degree in Theatre Arts requires:
- A three-year program of study
- A minimum 54 hours graduate credit
- A required professional internship for one semester, usually in the third year, with a successful evaluation
- A Final Project and Report, or sanctioned alternative (including a thesis option)

The core of the curriculum lies in the studio format, one-on-one tutorials and small classes with the student's primary advisor. The educational value of the studio experience is based on regularly planned projects designed as experiential labs. The primary advisor mentors the artistic progress of the student through these projects and guides the development of each student's overarching goals and curricular needs.

Each student participates in a required review with graduate committee members at the end of each semester of enrollment to evaluate work done, assess progress, and plan future projects and experiences. A unique Plan of Study, designed to the needs of each student, is developed to track progress toward the degree.

Facilities Introduction

The mission and vision of the theatre production program is to produce new and contemporary plays and new visions of the classics to discover how our performances may connect and stimulate people in the many communities on and off the Virginia Tech campus. We find balance in the positive value of human connection - the interaction of mind, imagination, and spirit. As such, we believe that theatre is both a community event and a way to build community.

Production and teaching facilities are located on the Blacksburg campus, primarily in Henderson Hall, Theatre 101 - a LEED-certified facility, and the Studio and Haymarket Theatres located in the Squires Student Center. Construction on Theatre 101 and the renovation of Henderson Hall were completed in the fall of 2009.

Classrooms and Labs

The renovated Henderson Hall houses general and dedicated classrooms, faculty offices, and fully equipped specialty labs, including: a CAD computer lab with multiple stations, a lighting design lab, a model-building lab, and an A/V sound and visual media design lab. Graduate student offices also are in this building.

Performance Venues

The Studio Theatre is a 214-seat three quarter thrust/modified proscenium designed by Theatre Arts faculty member Randy Ward. It features outstanding lighting, sound, and video systems, with a trap below and flexible actor access surrounding the stage area. A dismountable second level gallery is a readily available addition to the performance space. Its location directly in front of the Scene Shop makes set construction and loading remarkably convenient.

The Haymarket Theatre in Squires Student Center is a 485-seat George Izenour designed traditional proscenium with continental seating and a 34-foot wide proscenium, lending to more traditional theatre works. It is fully equipped with sound, lighting, and fly systems.

Theatre 101 is a state-of-the art teaching theatre space and classroom facility that opened in Fall 2009. It is a 42 x 42 square foot open space with a lighting grid at 18 feet above stage level. Audience risers and portable seating allow flexible staging configurations; a box office and dressing room add further support. This venue is used primarily for workshop productions directed by students and faculty and for occasional guest productions. The new facility has strong technical capability and a lobby front offering a public face to the campus and the town of Blacksburg.

Moss Arts Center is a brand new multi-faceted facility that incorporates a performance hall, gallery spaces, ICAT labs and performance spaces, classrooms, and offices. The new center brings professional artists and companies from around the globe to the Virginia Tech campus and community.

Production Support Facilities

The department maintains a fully equipped Scene Shop and Costume Shop for the construction of sets and costumes. The Scene Shop is a 3500 square foot space with 20 feet of clear height and an accessible loading dock, located immediately adjacent to The Studio Theatre. The Costume Shop is a 1200 square foot space featuring excellent resources for cutting, patterning, construction and finishing, fittings, and storage necessary for complete design and build of costumes and costume crafts. A Management Office provides support for promotion, publicity, front-of-house, and all management operations.
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