The Performance and Performance Studies (P+PS) MFA program seeks dedicated, interdisciplinary students determined to delve deeply into the field of performance studies and art practice in one program. Students who successfully complete the program will have deep knowledge of the field, be stronger in performance practices, have sharpened writing skills, and a solid professional network.
Performance and Performance Studies (P+PS) at Pratt is a small and intensive graduate degree program for students seeking to maximize and individualize their graduate experience and draw on the rich performance and cultural worlds of Brooklyn and greater New York City. Pratt has long been internationally known for studio programs with strong liberal arts components; the Performance and Performance Studies (P+PS) program is designed to enable students to take full advantage of an increasingly vibrant intersection of performance practices and theory.
The program also emphasizes internships, community-based practice and multifaceted support for careers in the performing arts and academia. As a new program, Pratt’s Performance and Performance Studies (P+PS) MFA provides an innovative model for a range of creative thinkers and makers. We encourage interaction between our students and eminent makers in the field through symposia, workshops, and presentations.
Because of the range of practitioners that are drawn to a program like this, we also offer a range of designated electives to serve different constituencies.
The first year focuses on the core of the program, cultivating a significant familiarity with performance practices and studies, including study of intra-cultural art forms and community-based practice. The second year includes emphasis on community connections such as internships, critical writing, thesis research, and final presentations. This intensive exposure to, and refinement of, key aspects of creative and academic training prepares the graduating student for impactful careers in art practice and/or teaching and writing.
The MFA is a terminal degree, a prestigious credential that also makes graduates eligible to teach at the college and graduate school level, should they choose to pursue the job market in that area.
Performance Studies is the field that develops in-depth knowledge of the essential aspects shared by a diverse range of performance practices that have, until recently, mostly been studied separately. These include traditional forms such as ritual and drama, hybrid forms and performance art in multiple media, and performance as a vital dimension of social practice in everyday life and work. Armed with this synthesizing knowledge—and with a carefully chosen and specific set of performance methods and media—students gain breadth, depth and flexibility as performers and thinkers that traditional programs can’t provide, becoming better able to take and to make opportunities for themselves in a world where performance is being practiced, thought, and taught in new ways.
The program emphasizes performance practice in multiple relationships with performance theory, while offering students a preferred credential, the terminal M.F.A.
The program includes an emphasis on community-engaged performance practice and theory, both deepening and expanding the kinds of performance opportunities students will be able to explore, and taking advantage of the vibrant and diverse communities and performance landscapes of Brooklyn and New York City.
The program is designed to take advantage of—and to evolve in relation to—its art and design school environment, with all of its courses open to Pratt graduate students in other programs and a mandate to build inter-program relationships at the student, course, and program level.
The advantages of an MFA program (rather than an MA or PhD program) are substantial: our students will be grounded in creative practice with a strong emphasis on conceptual framing, and students with strong interests in theory can apply their work directly to the stage and other media. Students will emerge with a terminal degree that will open career doors and paths for them in ways that the typical M.A. in Performance Studies only cannot as well as for those working practitioners who’d prefer not to pursue a doctorate at this time. Artists and others not on this path increasingly require a terminal degree to teach and/or reignite, refine, and expand their skill sets. Because of evolving fields (in this case, fields involving performance and its various media), artists increasingly need the critical/theoretical frameworks and historical perspectives—as well as some experience in a variety of interdisciplinary performance modes—that for various reasons, traditional programs are less good at providing.
Who is the program for?
The Performance and Performance Studies (P+PS) M.F.A. appeals to a wide range of practitioners, scholars, and students, including professionals in the field who are seeking terminal career credentials; working performers and artists who seek to gain a more critical/theoretical depth and background (as well as new performance skills) for their work; scholars with some artistic training who seek to complement their work with training in performance technique; and students from other disciplines who understand what opportunities they can gain by focusing on the performative dimensions of their fields.
With an M.F.A. in Performance and Performance Studies from Pratt, artist scholars will be able to work as artists and performance practitioners; work as teachers in colleges/universities and other institutions in a variety of fields—such as theater, performance studies, art criticism, movement, creative writing—and in community settings, arts education and youth programs and other venues; work as curators, arts administrators, art critics, or production staff, and in media; have a foundation from which to pursue a PhD in a range of fields, including performance studies, cultural studies, theater, and others, should they choose to do so.
Student Learning Outcomes
Our students will leave the program prepared and confident of their aptitude as artists and thinkers. Whether they choose to be full-time practicing artists, artists in academia, scholars, or performers in new fields and new media, they will leave Pratt with a strong skill set and a terminal degree that will give them opportunities that programs that emphasize either theory or practice do not offer. The program also offers a manageable, two-year time frame—one suitable for artists who do not choose to pursue studies in a doctoral program.
Student Learning Objectives
Students graduating from this program will have developed their abilities in the areas of writing and scholarship; history and theory; performance practice; and community-based engagement, as follows:
In Performance practice, students will have (1) learned to approach their practice with a playful and open mind, and a sense of reverent discipline—and to approach the making of work as a form of research; (2) explored a variety of specific performance practices such as dance, choreography, acting, writing for performance, commedia dell arte, Shakespearean performance, puppetry, melodrama, installation, site-specific work, and others as guided by their interests; (3) developed skills and experience that will give them the flexibility to apply their abilities across disciplines, formats and areas of study (4) developed a daily practice that will keep their body ready and available for performance; (5) learned to produce performance work in a non-traditional theater setting; and (6) learned to collaborate with other artists from a range of disciplines, as well as thinkers, mentors and community members.
In community-based practices, students will have (1) learned how to build relationships with artistic, literary, activist, and local communities, such that their will involve the history and values of a given community, and/or creatively explores such history and values, and/or includes the members of the group as co-creators and performers; (2) learned to make work with an understanding of their own social responsibility as artists, one that explores the place of art in the social/political and that moves beyond the confines of the traditional theater space; and (3) developed methods for generating and sustaining a successful art practice that continues to contribute to communities, to generate ideas, and to preserve the health and well-being of the artist for their creative lives.
In the areas of writing and scholarship, students will have (1) learned to use writing as part of their creative and critical process, and as a means to explore the ways in which performance governs how we live, act and react in the world; (2) learned to generate and apply research methodologies to their work and to understanding the creative and scholastic work of others; and (3) developed confidence in presenting their critical ideas and original research to a range of publics.
In the areas of history and theory, students will (1) understand and be able to participate in debates central to the history, theory, and practice of performance and performance studies; (2) understand the history and contemporary landscape of socially engaged art practice; (3) be familiar with histories of popular performance forms, the theatrical avant-garde, and contemporary performance forms; and (4) be able to bring an understanding of minoritarian subjectivity to their work and know how that subjectivity contributes to assumptions and innovations in performance.