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Department of Theatre and Dance

  • student acting on stage

MFA in Acting

Good acting springs from strong conviction, which is a confluence of physical engagement, acute thinking, and a penetrating use of language that reflects a refined expression of thought and experience.

Talented, motivated artists have an insatiable curiosity about the invigorating process of acting and a hunger to deepen their understanding and skills of their own craft. The M.F.A. in acting is intensive training that helps satisfy both drives. 

Program Structure

The program approach utilizes experimentation and new work in a company-like environment. With only eight MFA actors on campus at any given moment, you'll experience concentrated interactions with fellow students. The intensive training requires that actors maintain a very professional attitude while existing in a highly interdependent disciplined environment.

By following the structure of a producing company, the program provides the means for deep and innovative inquiry, rapid artistic growth, a high level of productivity, a well-defined personal aesthetic and development of a strong professional work ethic.


The program fosters challenging new performance ideas and production approaches that culminate in public productions ranging from Shakespeare to Shaw, as well as emerging modern playwrights from around the world. Along the way, you can freely experiment without the need to present the work for public consumption on a deadline. Test, develop, edit, re-work or expand your ideas until they're audience ready.

Solo Show

During the second year of the MFA program, students conceptualize and perform a solo show. In the creation of the show, students not only demonstrate a mastery of acting skills, but also show a comprehensive understanding of dramatic action, theatrical viability, structure, use of space and, above all, authenticity of idea. The solo performance also challenges the student actor to find a balance between available resources and the creation of a strong, affective theatrical event. 


Center for Performance Experiment

The Center for Performance Experiment has provided a philosophical, artistic and architectural umbrella for the MFA acting company. The center provides a link between teaching and performance capability.

With a studio large enough to replicate the performance demands of small to mid-sized regional theaters, it is easily modified to teach a variety of performance techniques. The studio is large enough to accommodate bold, expansive, imaginative thinking as students work on individual roles, and intimate enough for the solo performances that make up the core of an MFA thesis.

The center offers a second stage for MFA actors, with space to work on challenging material in addition to their work in the Theatre South Carolina Main Season. In order to expand the scope of actor training, the center stages a wide variety of material. Students have the opportunity to experiment with dramatic material ranging from clown plays to Beckett.


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.