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MFA in Theatre: New Play Development

In 2013, the Department of Theatre and the Clarence Brown Theatre introduced a program in new play development.

In the fall of 2013, we commissioned Rob Caisley to write a new play specifically conceived for and with our MFA acting class of 2016.  Mr. Caisley worked with the actors for an intensive week in 2013 and 2014, conceiving and developing the play.  Finally, in spring of 2016, we fully produced The Open Hand, directed by Artistic Director Calvin Maclean.  The Open Hand played to sold out audiences and received rave reviews.

Based on the training success of this process, we began the same three year cycle with the new first year MFA class of 2018.  We commissioned Christopher Pena to develop a new play based in workshops with the actors in 2016 and 2017, for production in 2018.  Most Recently, Anthony Clarvoe was commissioned to write People Where They Are, which followed the same timeline and was produced late in 2019.

UTK MFA designers also collaborate in the development process and fully design these new works.

This program has received enthusiastic support from our faculty, our actors, and the CBT community, including offers of funding to foster and sustain it.  It offers our actors and designers a vital experience in collaboration and the creation of new work.