Theater: Contemporary Performance
MFA Theater performance

Theater: Contemporary Performance

"Being an artist is not an occupation; it is your life, your whole being."—Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

The Master of Fine Arts in Theater: Contemporary Performance is Naropa University’s interdisciplinary studio-based performance degree.

This rigorous laboratory program has been created by a faculty of first-generation innovators to encourage the next generation of pioneers in performance.

Rooted in performance techniques that emphasize the body, mind and voice as source, our training explores the structures that underpin contemporary performance. 

Naropa’s Contemporary Performance MFA is the first training program of its kind to explore the intersections of performance-making with contemplative arts.

Creating vital and relevant new work is only part of the equation; the engaged artist must also be able to speak and write about their work. We value practice as research and dissemination; allowing students to actively test pedagogical and methodological propositions. 

Theater and performance are multidisciplinary arts, and we are invested in building a multidisciplinary cohort. Whether your background is in acting, directing, design/visual arts, writing, performance theory, dance/movement, music, film/media, or performance art, you will engage in intensive ensemble-based training using your body, mind, and voice to create work that is unique in form and content.

We seek students from the United States and all corners of the world to create a truly diverse international cohort where collaboration is informed by intercultural and multilingual dialogue.

Contemporary Performance MFA Degree Highlights

  • Develop and create original work as part of a closely connected ensemble, while at the same time being supported in your individual journey of discovery in the best traditions of student-centered teaching and learning.
  • Complete a thesis project related to production, service learning, activism/social justice, teaching, or research.
  • Immerse yourself in intensive studio training and rehearsals.
  • Work with nationally and internationally respected faculty and guest artists

Discover More

  • Guest Artist Residencies

    Learn from visiting guest artists, brought in annually to inspire and collaborate with Naropa Theater students. See who we've worked with.


Credits Required


The Master of Fine Arts program in Theater: Contemporary Performance is a two-year twelve-student cohort. At any given time, there are twenty-four students in residence, including both cohorts.


Caitlyn Tella

Student Highlight

“Naropa is giving me an opportunity to uncover my own artistic process under the mentorship of amazingly loving and brilliant artists and teachers. The essence of contemplative practice and ensemble support that are the foundation of my study at Naropa will serve my artistic path and career. I can trust my instincts, breathe, and let my heart lead the way.”

— Caitlyn Tella
MFA '16

More Student / Alumni Voices
Hands holding

Faculty Spotlight

“The MFA Theater Program at Naropa University is designed on the premise that theater is a fundamental cultural necessity that is enriched by and enriches the community in which it is located. We believe that theater is a common ground for cultural discourse and that it is incumbent upon theater artists to use their voices responsibly. We strive to understand why theater is an essential art, asking what we can achieve in theater that cannot be achieved in other art forms. We challenge ourselves to recognize that performance is an innately spiritual act. We offer the training and experiences necessary for students to develop an imaginative creative process and disciplined personal expression in the theater.”

— Jeffrey Sichel, MFA
Chair of the MFA Performance Program // Associate Professor, Core Faculty

All Faculty

Naropa is a founding member of the UNESCO-ITI Network for Performing Arts in Higher Education. As the only affiliated graduate program in the US, we’re leading the way in global engagement through the arts.