The MFA in European Devised Performance Practice, a partnership with the London International School of Performing Arts (LISPA), is the only degree of its kind in America, offering a practice-based international theatre experience in the fields of physical theatre and devised performance.
As a result of successfully completing program requirements, students should be able to:
- use highly physical levels of play within different theatrical territories and performance languages;
- apply a movement vocabulary from the realistic to the abstract within devised performance;
- demonstrate artistic autonomy through the construction of originally devised dramatic and post-dramatic spaces, images and stories;
- engage successfully in the different artistic and administrative aspects of a collaborative ensemble;
- articulate the cultural, political and artistic dimensions of collaborative devised performance in Europe and the United States, as experienced in the cities of Berlin, London and Chicago;
- contribute scholarship to the emerging field of devised performance through the practice-based research undertaken during the course of two years of study in the discipline;
- contribute original work to the theatrical culture of Chicago in support of the city’s re-emerging interest in and commitment to international performance;
- employ entrepreneurial skills and best business practices in the creation and development of artistic careers within an ensemble or as a solo artist;
- demonstrate the ability to teach skills and knowledge acquired in the program to a wide variety of students and emerging and established theatre artists; and
- apply the transferable skills acquired during the two-year program to career options within the performing arts and related disciplines such as teaching, community outreach, and arts therapies.
The training in the MFA is inspired by, and firmly grounded in, the teachings of Jacques Lecoq, and looks to expand his teachings through the influences of other contemporary approaches to devised performance. Students spend their first year in LISPA’s studios in Berlin, focusing on creating original works for the stage that foreground the physical and draw inspiration from dance, the visual arts and traditional theatre. The second year of the program takes place on Columbia’s campus in Chicago, with instruction from faculty in the Theatre Department and Business and Entrepreneurship Department. Here students develop, diversify, and apply in performance the skills learned overseas.
At the end of two years, students create a thesis performance and graduate with numerous advantages in this ever-growing field: in-depth knowledge of highly physical levels of play within different performance languages; international theatre experience; entrepreneurial skills and the ability to teach emerging physical theatre students; original work to contribute to the theatre community in Chicago and around the world; and the knowledge and skills to advance their careers in a variety of professional disciplines, including community outreach, teaching and arts therapy.