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MFA Theatre, Directing

Master of Fine Arts in Theatre, Directing

From the production of Hamlet, Hamlet is being confronted by the ghost of his Father.
Hamlet directed by Liz Fisher

The TXST Directing Program is a rigorous practice-based program that trains the next generation of live performance makers. Our highly selective program is only open to two directors each year. Students in the program direct extensively, including up to five full-length productions, one-act plays, staged readings, short scenes and class projects.

Our students develop a considerable body of work, and we provide ample opportunities for feedback and growth throughout their MFA. Students are also encouraged to take part in an internship with a professional theatre company during their three years.

In addition, the department offers specializations in musical theatre, new play development, and theater history/dramaturgy. Faculty mentors help guide student training and progress, along with clear landmarks that create a well-rounded portfolio for each student.

Moreover, we offer numerous opportunities for international summer study, including the Shakespeare in England study abroad program (6 hours), Oregon Shakespeare Festival Intensive (3 hours) and Internships for credit.

Recently, the TXST Directing program was highlighted in American Theatre Magazine.

Directing MFA Candidate Accomplishments

From the Production of Marisol, Marisol contemplating a decision
Marisol directed by Daniel Anderson


Liz Fisher just received the Princess Grace Award, honoring eight theatre practitioners across the US in some of this country’s most prestigious professional theatres and graduate programs.

Daniel Anderson was named Assistant Professor of Theatre, teaching directing and acting at San Angelo State University.

Amelia Bahr is Assistant Production Manager   for Brigham Young University-Idaho Falls.   Recent credits include producing Man of La Mancha and You Can’t Take It With You.

Rocky Hopson directed Buried Child at Inplayers, The Cowgirl Mary West Puppet Theatre Show at the Edinburgh Fringe, Pillowman for the Orange Theatre Company in Amsterdam, and is artistic director of Hat Tree Theatrical in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Jimmy Moore directed Zilker Hillside Theatre’s All Shook Up for their 60th anniversary season. The Austin Chronicle called his work “playful . . . the result being an ensemble of lively, good-humored performers”.

David Weynand accepted a faculty position with Northern Arizona University.

Carly Conklin accepted a Visiting Assistant Professor in Directing at Oklahoma State University

Melissa Utley directed The Little Foxes at the Classic Theatre in San Antonio.

James Brownlee is an Instructor of Theatre at Weatherford College.

Jimmy Moore was appointed Artistic Director of the Zilker Theatre in Austin, TX.

Laura Garza is Artistic Director of Teatro Audaz in San Antonio, TX.

Current Candidates:

Isaac Byrne directed AMP by Jody Christopherson for Goode Productions NYC and RUSALKA by Erika Phoebus for the 10th Annual Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, NYC

Tom Delbello was assistant director for Sunday in the Park with George at Zach Theatre, Austin.

Allison Price was part of a new play development lab, WildWInd, in which she assistant directed 6 projects. She was also invited to be part of the Kennedy Center Directing Intensive, where she was assistant director for a new play and took workshops with the National Play Directing Fellows. 

Alex Rodriguez just finished a 3 ½ month contract as a Playlist Singer/Dancer for Carnival Cruise Line Entertainment performing Flick: The Power of Motion Pictures and America Rocks.


Course Sequence       

1st Year Fall    1st Year Spring 
MFA Studio I  MFA Studio II 
Text Analysis  History
Conceptualization and Composition  Director and Designer Collaboration 
2nd Year Fall 2nd Year Spring
MFA Studio III  MFA Studio IV 
Choreography or Theory History
History of Directing and Scenography or Elective Elective
3rd Year Fall  3rd Year Spring
MFA Studio V  MFA Studio VI 
Exit Project or Elective Exit Project or Elective
Theory or Choreography History
Elective or History of Directing and Scenography   


To reach 60 hours for the degree, students will need to take an additional 6 hours of prescribed electives in two of the semesters or in the summers (see below).   Students will also enroll for 3 hours of Internship. Possibilities include; Shakespeare in England summer study abroad program with courses at the RSC/Birthplace Trust and Shakespeare’s Globe (6 hours), Oregon Shakespeare Festival Intensive (3 hours) and/or Internships for credit.

Details of Course Descriptions

Production photo from Tartuffe - 2017
Tartuffe directed by MFA Candidate Jessica McMichael

Directing Faculty 

Deb Alley, MFA (Department Chair)

Deb Alley joined the faculty at Texas State University in 2013 and teaches directing to graduate and undergraduate students. Prior to her arrival in Texas, she was head of the Master of Fine Arts directing program at Illinois State University where she received the University’s Outstanding Teacher award in 2005. She was artistic director of Illinois Shakespeare Festival from 2007 to 2012. Her association with ISF goes back to 1995 and includes associate artistic director and production manager positions. She currently is also chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at TSU.

Charles Ney, MFA/PhD (Head of Directing)

Charles "Chuck" Ney teaches directing and acting in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Texas State University. His Directing Shakespeare in America: Current Practices and Directing Shakespeare in America: Historical Perspectives were published by Bloomsbury’s Arden Shakespeare in 2016 and 2018. He has directed productions for Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Idaho Repertory Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, Texas Shakespeare Festival, Manhattan Clearing House, Mary Moody Northen Theatre, and ZACH Theatre. His Richard III received seven nominations from the Austin Circle of Critics and A Midsummer Night’s Dream was named one of the ten best Austin productions of the year by the Austin Chronicle.  His Top Girls performed at the Kennedy Center.

Jerry Ruiz, MFA

Jerry Ruiz teaches directing at Texas State University. His directing credits include productions at Primary Stages, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, the Old Globe, Second Stage Theatre, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Playmakers Repertory Company, the Mint Theater Company, and Clubbed Thumb. He has developed work at the Public Theater, Atlantic Theater Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Playwright's Realm. From 2011 to 2015, he served as curator for the Crossing Borders festival of new plays at Two River Theater in New Jersey. He was a recipient of the 2009–2011 NEA/TCG Career Development for Theatre Directors Grant and a Van Lier Directing Fellow at Second Stage, 2007-2009.

William W. Lewis, PhD

Will is Lecturer in Directing at Texas State University. He is an interdisciplinary scholar/artist who focuses on intermedial, postdramatic, and devised performance that implements site specificity, gaming, interactivity, and social media to explore ethics and politics in the 21st century. His research explores the role of digital interactivity on contemporary audiences and the implications of constant connection to media on how we teach theatre-making. He trained in devised theatre and interactive theatre making with SITI Company in New York City, Blast Theory in the United Kingdom, and as a workshop director on new play development with NYU Tisch. He currently serves as ATHE’s Conference Planner for the Directing Program and will be the Focus Group Representative in 2020.  His work has been recognized by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (Quantified Self) and the Kennedy Center College Theatre festival (Woyzeck: The Endless Cycle 1.0 ).

Production Photo of Perfect Pie
Perfect Pie directed by MFA Candidate Carly Conklin

Production Spaces and Directing Assignments

The Department of Theatre and Dance has four primary production spaces where MFA directors exhibit their work. In the Performing Arts Center is the  397-seat proscenium configuration Harrison Theatre. In the Theatre Center, students direct for the flexible configuration Mainstage Theatre; the 140-seat thrust configuration Studio black-box; and the 209 lecture hall.

MFA Candidates will undertake a series of directing assignments during their three years in the program. The first year is reserved for new-works, short plays, and class projects. In the second year, they will direct two full-length contemporary projects in the Studio. The final year is reserved for thesis projects staged in either the Mainstage or the Harrison.

Directors and Designers Collaborating During Tech Rehearsal
Tech Rehearsal in Harrison Theatre Auditorium
Rehearsal Image in the Studio Theatre
Rehearsal in the Studio Theatre

Graduate Assistantships/Scholarships/Tuition


Almost all graduate students receive a $12,000-13,000 assistantship, paid over 9 months. The assistantship comes with in-state tuition

Typical assignments include:

Introduction to Fine Arts (Teaching Assistant)

Introduction to Fine Arts (Teacher)

Acting 1 (Teacher)

Directing 1 (Teacher)

Assistant to Head of Graduate Studies or Head of Directing

To receive a full assistantship, students teach or assist two classes a semester. Acting and Directing classes are usually assigned to our 3rd year directing students.


In addition, there are scholarships available through the Graduate College and through the Department of Theatre and Dance. They can range anywhere from $1500 to $3000 per year. Most applications are due by March 1 each year. Outstanding Graduate Merit Fellowship is $2500 awarded in the first year. It is possible to receive more than one award. Additional support is available for thesis research – up to $2000.

Production Photo of Mr. Burns as Post Electric Play. 2018
  Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play directed by MFA Candidate Isasc Byrne

Application Deadline

March 15

Send your application to

Graduate College
Texas State University 
601 University Drive
San Marcos, TX 78666

How To Apply

The graduate program in theatre requires that students work together closely and that potential candidates need to bring skills, temperaments, and goals that are in cohesion with the department and the cohort of students they will join. For this reason, semi-finalists will be invited to on-campus or Skype interviews/auditions.

  • Complete an application online using the Apply Texas Application
  • Once you have applied and received your Net ID, upload documents to the Graduate Admissions Document Upload (GADU) tool when your application has been received by the graduate admissions office.
  • Submit two letters of recommendation
  • Submit a current theatre resume
  • Submit a statement of purpose that details your experience in directing, related background information and your goals for pursuing the MFA in Directing

For More Information Contact:

Chuck Ney, Head of Directing
Texas State University 
601 University Drive
San Marcos, TX 78666