Theater: M.F.A Course Offerings

Boston Conservatory at Berklee offers a two-year M.F.A. in musical theater. The courses outlined below are offered for students enrolled in these programs.

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Academic Courses

T-LT 5901 Introduction to Graduate Studies Graduate Theater Colloquium
2 hours weekly; 2 credits
This course explores pedagogical approaches to teaching performing arts at the college level, as well as insights into best practices of entrepreneurialism in the business of professional theater.
 
T-LT 5801 Musical Theater Dance History Seminar
3 credits
The course will take students through a broad survey of choreographers and choreographic influences over the course of the history of American musical theater. It is designed as a follow-up to the two-semester musical-theater history sequence in the first year of the MFA program, providing students with the opportunity to explore in greater detail the lives and works of key figures (Agnes de Mille, Jerome Robbins, Michael Bennett, Bob Fosse, etc.) as well as expose students to additional choreographers that the musical-theater history course doesn’t cover, or only briefly addresses (Gower Champion, Michael Kidd, Jack Cole, George Balanchine, Tommy Tune, etc.). The course will also bring students up-to-date with respect to important choreographers who are currently working (Susan Stroman, Kathleen Marshall, Rob Ashford, etc.) as well as important influences from the larger dance world (Katherine Dunham, Twyla Tharp, Bill T. Jones, etc.). Students will also continue to work on their persuasive-writing and pedagogic skills.
Prerequisite: T-LT 5901
 
T-LT 5301 History of Musical Theater 1

2 hours weekly; 2 credits
The first semester of this two-semester sequence provides students with a thorough introduction to the history of American musical theater, with occasional focus on musical theater outside the United States.  The emphasis will be on the broad themes that have influenced the genre, rather than on the rote memorization of facts. Students will begin with a solid foundation in historically significant works and their creators, then gradually progress toward modern-day shows, with an eye toward how those shows reflect the trends and themes set forth by the works of the past. In the process, students will work on their ability to write persuasively. They will also take part in or attend a staged reading of a historically significant show, with the goal of gaining and in-depth understanding of the show, its creators, and the historical genre that the show represents.

T-LT 5302 History of Musical Theater 2
2 hours weekly; 2 credits
The second semester of this two-semester sequence will cover similar chronological territory to that of the first semester, concentrating on building on that historical foundation, and filling in the significant genres that arose concurrently with the works discussed in the first semester. We will travel back earlier in history to discuss the precursors to American musical theater. We will also focus more specifically on the evolution of more sophisticated show forms, including the satirical musical show, from its early days of spoof and parody to the more refined forms of social commentary of the mid-20th century. In the process, students will continue to work on their ability to write persuasively. They will also take part in or attend another staged reading of a historically significant show.
Prerequisite: T-LT 5301
 
T-LT 6901 Cultural History and the Theater
2 hours weekly; 2 credits
An exploration of cultural history and the art of theater. This course focuses on an examination of the interface, importance, and influence of the theater in (primarily) Anglo-American society from the fin de siècle period to the coming of age of America, roughly 1880–1930. The approach embraces cultural and intellectual history and is multidisciplinary, taking as a premise the importance of ideas, broadly defined, which led to the growth and diversification of theatrical arts as a dynamic part of world culture.
Prerequisite: T-LT 5901

Acting

T-ST 5101 Acting 1
3 hours weekly; 3 credits
T-ST 5102 Acting 2
3 hours weekly; 3 credits
This sequence helps students free and expand their individual instrument and remove tension and inhibition in order to become flexible, creative, and expressive actors. Students are given a way of working with the fundamentals of acting, including concentration, pursuing an objective with both physical and psychological actions, and discovering the truth using both improvised and scripted scenes. Includes class time specifically devoted to voice and speech.

T-ST 5103 Acting 3
3 hours weekly; 3 credits
Students in this course study the mental and emotional connection to movement in acting. Visualization and movement improvisation are used to expand understanding and control of the emotional/physical connection. Students are also asked to develop conscious control of the mind/body connection, particularly studying the concepts of Viewpoints. Exercises focus on rhythm, tension, and body language.
 
T-ST 5104 Acting 4  
3 hours weekly; 3 credits
 
T-ST 6101 Acting 5                                                  
3 hours weekly; 3 credits

T-ST 6102 Acting 6
3 hours weekly; 3 credits
Techniques for scene rehearsal emphasizing more sophisticated principles of acting including concentration, finding objectives, playing actions, personalization, and characterization. Includes class time specifically devoted to voice and speech.

Musical Theater

T-EN 5301 Musical Theater Styles & Analysis 1
5 hours weekly; 3 credits
T-EN 5302 Musical Theater Styles & Analysis 2
5 hours weekly; 3 credits
This course combines components of musical theater and script and score analysis. The musical theater portion focuses on the preparation of the singer-actor as interpreter of song using a variety of popular American and musical theater vocal styles. Students develop a flexible, expressive vocal instrument with a personalized interpretive approach—music, lyric, and interpreter as one. The script and score analysis portion develops musicianship and refinement in performance, combining vocal and acting skills with the development of character in musical play scene work, including both song and dialogue. Works are analyzed with an understanding of the social and historical contexts in which they were written. The first year focuses on musical play, musical comedy, operetta, and the Swing Era.

T-EN 6301 Musical Theater Styles & Analysis 3
5 hours weekly; 3 credits
T-EN 6302 Musical Theater Styles & Analysis 4                                                  
5 hours weekly; 3 credits
A continuation of Musical Theater Styles & Analysis 1–2, this course explores more advanced study in all areas, building upon the ideas and acting techniques developed through the graduate program, so that the actor may actively experience being fully connected to a song with mind, body, and emotion. Additional emphasis is placed on the business of theater—how to work and keep working. The script and score analysis portion moves beyond content to analyze experimental theatrical and musical structure and form. The works of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Brecht/Weill, Sondheim, and pop/rock/contemporary composers are explored.

M-AP 0751 Applied Voice
1 hour weekly; 2 credits
 
T-AP 0301 Musical Theater Repertoire
0.5 hour weekly; 1 credits
 
T-AP 0302 Musical Theater Repertoire Recital
0 credits
 
T-AP 0303 Musical Theater Repertoire                                                  
1 hour weekly; 2 credits
 
T-PR 5301 Capstone: Summer Stock                                                                                         
Hours vary; 1 credit
 
T-PR 6301 Capstone: Showcase                                                                          
Hours vary; 1 credit
 
T-PR 6302 Capstone: Cabaret
Hours vary; 1 credit

Dance

Jazz

Placement in specific jazz courses and sections is determined by the Coordinator of Musical Theater Dance, in consultation with the dance faculty. Placement is based not only on skill level but also on creating the best match between the expertise of individual faculty members and the specific needs of each student.
 
T-ST 0601 is a required review for placement in:
T-ST 0619 Beginner Jazz
T-ST 0629 Beginner/Intermediate Jazz
T-ST 0639 Intermediate/Beginner Jazz
T-ST 0649 Intermediate Jazz
T-ST 0659 Advanced/Intermediate Jazz
T-ST 0669 Advanced Jazz

3 hours weekly; 1 credit

Ballet

Placement in specific ballet courses and sections is determined by the Coordinator of Musical Theater Dance, in consultation with the dance faculty. Placement is based not only on skill level but also on creating the best match between the expertise of individual faculty members and the specific needs of each student.
 
T-ST 0701
is a required review for placement in:
T-ST 0719 Beginner Ballet
T-ST 0729 Beginner/Intermediate Ballet
T-ST 0739 Intermediate/Beginner Ballet
T-ST 0749 Intermediate Ballet
T-ST 0759 Advanced/Intermediate Ballet
T-ST 0769 Advanced Ballet

3 hours weekly; 1 credit