MFA Technical Production

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in technical production at Boston University College of Fine Arts aims to provide students with a more specific technical production training that will prepare them for the rigors of the professional world. Students are trained in all areas of technical theatre, commercial and industrial, as well as regional.

Degree Type

  • Graduate

Formats

  • In-Person

Availability

  • Full-Time

Location

  • On-Campus
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Utilizing the newest technologies, BU’s MFA in technical production offers students the opportunity to become proficient in areas such as automation, CNC, 3D printing, and AutoCAD. Courses in welding, drafting, rigging, and production are combined with design, art, and management classes to create well-rounded and insightful technicians.  Graduates of the program have gone on to work in the highest levels of the industry.

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60% hands on, 40% classroom

As an MFA technical production student, you’ll learn how to effectively manage large crews, organize large-scale projects, and delegate to those that’ll help the show succeed. Tactile skills you’ll gain include carpentry, welding, rigging, AutoCAD, automation, scenic engineering, and spreadsheet organization.

Oh, and there’s no rubber stamp mold of a BU graduate theater student. Interested in learning about lighting, audio production, production management, and other areas of theatre? You can take classes in that!

The uniqueness of our program is that we offer the flexibility to tailor the work to the individual student. Assignments will often be based on what students are looking to get out of this in three years, as opposed to requiring them to take this or that course.” -Joel Brandwine, technical production program head

6:1
Student-to-faculty ratio

Program of Study

Training includes a rigorous curriculum, production opportunities, and collaboration with theatre professionals. This program offers a mix of the hands-on production approach to go along with the classroom theoretical approach.

The small student-to-teacher ratio (6:1) gives each student faculty mentorship on a daily basis. 

The state-of-the-art facility, CFA Production Center, ensures that all students are getting opportunities to work with the latest technologies and graduate with applicable skills to the modern theatre world.

Students take courses in welding, drafting, rigging, and production, plus design, art, and management classes to create well-rounded and insightful technicians.

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Student Feature

Get to know Jerry Zuraw (CFA’21), who had been working as the assistant technical director of a regional theatre company and came to BU to advance his career with an MFA in technical production.

“Rather than continuing to try and piece that education together on the job, I determined that pursuing an MFA at Boston University was the best long-term investment I could make in myself and the most efficient way for me to gain the tools I need to meet my career goals,” says Jerry.

Jerry was drawn to BU because of the opportunity to design in the award-winning and state-of-the-art venue, Booth Theatre. “I wanted to get hands-on experience working with the same automation systems that are used in large-scale, professional shows.”

Through the program’s curriculum, Jerry was able to take classes in lighting, sound, and production management. “This well-rounded education has helped me build a vocabulary that has allowed me to better communicate with my collaborators.”

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Opportunities

Gain hands-on experience at the CFA Production Center, located in the heart of campus next to BU’s Joan & Edgar Booth Theatre, which has a number of shops from scene to costume. The technical production shop has 7000 sq. ft. of unencumbered space. Included in the facility are a 4×8 CNC machine, 4 mig welders, all standard hand and power tools, and 4 chain motors. Booth Theatre is a flexible space with 24 axes of automated rigging and a fully trappable floor to a 12’ trap room. Students are also able to use the automation lab where they have access to a 3D printer, pneumatic gear, and 4 axes of Creative Connors Automation.

Students will act as carpenters, lead carpenters, head riggers, assistant technical directors, technical directors, and at times project managers in CFA School of Theatre productions.

Students will develop professional skills through production work, classes, and mentored work that will serve as a basis for their transition from the academic world to the larger community of theatre professionals. They are trained by School of Theatre faculty who are working theatre artists that maintain active professional careers.

Guest lecturers are brought in to expand upon the students’ exposure to the professional world. Internships are available, plus summer work opportunities in high-profile summer theatres are available to students.

Participate in the School of Theatre Showcase, held in Boston and/or New York City, and share your work with alumni and working professionals in the field.


We can provide students with more outside professional opportunities. There are significant professional opportunities in Boston to round out your education and bolster your resume while in school.
-Joel Brandwine, program head and assistant professor of technical production at BU

Meet BU’s Technical Production Program Head

Aside from training future technical production experts at BU, Joel Brandwine has been a technical director, production carpenter, automation technician, and rigger for over 20 years. His Broadway credits include Jersey Boys, American Idiot, Legally Blond, Catch Me if You Can, Cinderella, American Psycho, 9 to 5, and Evita.

In CFA’s Faculty Feature series, Brandwine describes what makes BU’s MFA in Technical Production program unique, the facilities at BU, and what the job outlook is like for graduates of the program.

We have been very fortunate to have all of our graduates employed professionally in jobs they want. No school can make guarantees when it comes to employment. But I am proud of our students’ abilities to get work in all facets of theatre, from large commercial shops, regional theaters, universities, and on Broadway.

read the Q&A with brandwine

Faculty

Faculty Accolades

The Technical Production faculty at BU is ETCP Rigging Certified, OSHA 30 Certified, and Members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).

The fun of making things…

Led Ana Weiss (CFA’18) to obtain an MFA in Technical Production

Ana Weiss, an assistant carpenter at the American Ballet Theatre, wasn’t involved with theater in high school, nor as an undergraduate student at the University of Kentucky. Only after graduating with a degree in architecture did she find her way to a summer stock theater on Cape Cod, Mass., where she worked as a carpenter.

“Nothing about what I’ve done is a straight path,” she says of her career. While on the Cape, a painter working on the same production talked Weiss into looking at CFA.

“The BU program had an open dynamic for somebody who didn’t already have a theater background,” she says. Weiss took scenic painting and color theory courses and studied fabric dyeing and costume methods as she worked her way toward an MFA in technical production. She wrote her thesis about props. “I wanted to be able to at least know a little bit about every other department,” she says. Those courses filled in her theater experience—and reaffirmed her interests.

As one of three carpenters on the ABT crew, Weiss repairs sets, builds replicas for rehearsals, and loads the trucks that carry everything across the country.

read more in cfa magazine

Notable Graduates

Graduates of BU’s technical production programs go on to work in the highest levels of the industry.

  • Kent Cyr (CFA’08) | Assistant Professor, Michigan Tech
  • Ben Frechetter (CFA’17) | Technical Designer, Showman Fabricators
  • Tom Fusco (CFA’96) | Professor, Rowan College
  • Ashley Haughwout (CFA’13) | Technical Designer, Showman Fabricators
  • Eric Huss (CFA’04) | Technical Sales, JR Clancy
  • Kyle Moore (CFA’14) | Assistant Professor, University of Montevallo
  • Ian Owens (CFA’16) | Project Manager, Filmwerks
  • John Traub (CFA’11) | Assistant Professor of Production Management and Technology, George Washington University

Next Steps for Applicants

The best way to determine if BU is right for you is to explore our admission requirements, financial tools, and resources.

Fill out our request for info about BU theatre programs form to receive additional information about your program of interest and to send us any questions you may have.

REQUEST INFO ABOUT THE MFA TECHNICAL PRODUCTION PROGRAM

We are happy to discuss your educational interests and career goals.

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