About the Program

Contemporary PerformanceThe MFA Theater: Contemporary Performance program is committed to creating a laboratory for the research of new techniques, aesthetics, and pedagogies based on an understanding of the evolution of traditional forms from eastern and western lineages. The program provides tools for the self-generative artist to both create and disseminate about performative work as active social and cultural entrepreneurs.

This 48-credit, two-year program is the first graduate program of its type combining performance-making with contemplative practices to encourage and explore authenticity in the arts. Students are plugged into an immersive studio environment, engaging the body, mind and voice in performance-making.

Production work and learning to speak eloquently about what we experience on stage as performers and observers are also central to the development of well-rounded and engaged practitioners.

The curriculum centers around training the body, voice, and mind for performance-making, including:

  • Contemplative arts and meditation training
  • Performance-making techniques, including a unique perspective on The Viewpoints training as created by Wendell Beavers and Mary Overlie
  • Alternative modes of generating text for performance and playwriting, including arbitrary systems in performance, frames theory, site-specific work, and meta-cognitive writing techniques as developed by Jeffrey Sichel
  • Extended Vocal Technique, based on the work of Roy Hart, applied to spoken and sung text
  • Body-centered somatic techniques, including BMC and experiential anatomy
  • The artist as social and cultural entrepreneur
  • Exploration of global engagement, social justice, and intercultural performance traditions

Our program is a laboratory, ensemble-based training in which you will work in close collaboration with your cohort of 12. Learning is student-driven, with special attention given to each individual’s talents and interests. While you may choose to focus on a particular discipline, the training is interdisciplinary by nature, encouraging cross-pollination and the exploration of hybrid forms.

We are interested in encouraging artists to take their place as entrepreneurs, leaders in contemporary performance, and educators, developing and presenting socially, politically, and culturally relevant works in a national and global context.

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.