Patti & Rusty Rueff School of Design, Art, and Performance Department of TheatreCollege of Liberal Arts

Moon Platform

Technical Direction

We will be recruiting for the Technical Direction program in the spring of 2020 for admittance the following fall semester.

The MFA program in Technical Direction is intended to prepare students for fulfilling careers in professional or educational theatre and the entertainment industry.

Emphasis is on the development of a process which will serve students in the practice of their art through a long and varied career. This is accomplished through a balanced training program of classes, work on realized productions, and individualized tutorials.

A limited number of students are selected each year on the basis of resumes, interviews, and portfolio reviews. A visit to Purdue is recommended, to allow the potential student to interact with students and the faculty.

The program is rigorous, time-demanding, and intense. Based on the principle that a good technical director is well educated in many areas, Technical Direction students take courses in scenic technology, structural design and analysis, computer aided drafting, entertainment control systems, audio, electronics, and leadership. The mastery of these subjects will provide a strong foundation upon which to build.

Skills training is an important component of the Purdue program. Coursework is intended to provide a solid basis for the student’s professional work in the theatre or a related field.

Upon completion of graduate study, the student should have the ability to communicate verbally, in writing, and through technical drawings. Students should have an understanding of the principles of design, demonstrated ability in related technical areas, an understanding of the work of the director and designers, and an ability to collaborate with others through the production process.

During residency, the graduate technical direction student works on a variety of productions, and in a variety of spaces, ranging from a flexible black box to thrust and proscenium spaces.

Projects range from class exercises to one-acts, student-directed projects, dance, and mainstage productions. Each subsequent project has a greater support system of technical assistance and an increasing budget. A minimum of one production assignment (TD, Asst. TD, Special projects) is required each semester. The culmination of the program is a Terminal Project or Thesis Paper.

In order to strengthen the relationship between design and technology, those MFA students awarded an assistantship with the Theatre Department work in the technical shop related to the area of study.

Given the professional focus of the program and the credentials of the faculty, attention in the classroom and in the shop is devoted to the practice of professional theatre. Areas of concern are procedures, techniques, personnel, and opportunities, especially in relation to regional theatres and allied entertainment fields.

MFA in Technical Direction Plan of Study

The MFA requires a 60 credit hour minimum for completion. Students, however, may need to complete a course of study in excess of 60 hours in some cases.

The MFA program at Purdue subscribes to the idea that a strong production design best rests on a foundation of technical knowledge in several areas (carpentry, electrical, mechanics, and physics) and that the study of stage technology is enriched by an understanding of design principles..

Stage Technology classes focus on developing the skills to budget, create a technical design, and efficiently bring a production through each phase--design budget, build, board-in, technical rehearsals, opening, and strike. Particular attention is paid to the production staff relationship during the production process. Technical skills are developed in various classes.

The applicant is required to interview with a Purdue representative and submit the following materials when applying to the MFA Technical Direction program:

  • Theatrical resume
  • Transcript(s) from all schools attended
  • Statement of goals for undertaking the study of Technical Direction
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • The Graduate School application fee is $60 (U.S. dollars) for domestic applicants and $75 (U.S. dollars) for international applicants. You must pay your application fee online with your credit card. Visa and MasterCard cards are accepted and processed using a secured online payment system. Your application will not be processed until your nonrefundable application fee has been paid.

Interviews are held at all University/Resident Theatre Association sites or can be arranged on the Purdue campus. Those wishing to be interviewed at U/RTA sites are encouraged to contact Purdue by mail to assure an interview with a Purdue representative.

For specific questions regarding the Technical Direction MFA program, contact:

Richard M. Dionne
Instructor of Technical Direction and Stage Management
Purdue Theatre
Yue-Kong Pao Hall of Visual and Performing Arts
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2002


Purdue University
College of Liberal Arts
Patti and Rusty Rueff Department of Visual and Performing Arts

Technical Direction Brochure

For general information about Purdue Theatre, please contact:

Beth Daugherty
Operations Manager
(765) 494-3080

Click here for application information or to apply on-line. (Select "Theatre" as the area of study.)

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907 (765) 494-4600

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