Northern Illinois University

School of Theatre and Dance

MFA Specialization in Design and Technology

The Master of Fine Arts program with a specialization in design and technology offers programs of study in:

The recommended course of study trains students in multiple areas of the visual and/or technical aspects of the theatre, although students eventually work toward a final project in one area. Students choose to specialize in one of the major design areas. It is possible for a student with exceptional prior training in theatrical design or technology to study in more than one design area. However, that student will have to declare one area of study to be the primary area.

Emphasizing performance, the design faculty trains its students to refine and apply the artist's tools to the complex process of planning and executing production design.

Enrollment in the specialization in design and technology is limited in order to maximize personalized instruction and to exploit fully resources within and outside the department. While the classroom work informs analytical skills and provides training in all four design and technology areas of study, the production experience allows for a controlled, supervised teaching environment in which a specific design/technical craft is applied.

Production Assignments

Typically, in the first semester a design student is assigned as an assistant designer, research assistant, and/or an assistant in one of the technical areas. In the succeeding semesters the student is assigned ever-increasing design and/or production responsibilities commensurate with expertise and the chosen area of study. The program culminates in a major design project during the third year which is produced either on or off campus.

Usually, production assignments are made according to the following general plan:

  • First Year: One assignment as a production assistant and one assignment as designer or technical director where applicable.
  • Second Year: Two assignments as a production designer in one or two areas (or appropriate technical specialist) generally in Players Theatre, flexible space.
  • Third Year: One or two assignments as designer for a production in a proscenium space with internship as a possible alternative.

Design or Technology Studio

The core of design and technology student’s course work is the design or technology studio. This 5 semester–hour course is the heart of the program. Everything related to the student’s progress in the critical design skills is explored in this class. All students in all areas have the opportunity to meet and work together through this course. Each student will have the opportunity to work intensively on personal projects whether realized or theoretical.

The design or technology studio courses are supplemented with a series of design and technology skills courses. Most of these deal with graphic related subjects such as computer–aided design and drafting, electronic visualization and communication, scene painting, life drawing for the theatre, millinery, dyeing and painting fabrics, and rendering techniques.

Course Work

A common set of course work is shared among all design and technology graduate students. These courses recognize the importance the visual world in which theatre exists by providing basic courses in drawing and the icons of the visual world. These courses are:

  • Drawing for the Theatre
  • Period Style for the Theatre I
  • Period Style for the Theatre II

In addition all design and technology students will choose from among the following graphic skills courses, many of which may be repeated to further strengthen those skills:

  • Advanced Costume Technology: Pattern Drafting
  • Advanced Costume Technology: Millinery and Accessories
  • Advanced Costume Technology: Dyeing and Painting
  • Electronic Visualization
  • Rendering Techniques
  • Advanced Drafting
  • Scene Painting