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MA/MFA Scenography

Course Description


Some of the major innovations in performance practices over the past hundred years have been drawn from scenographic developments. This MA/MFA approaches scenography from multiple practical and theoretical perspectives to create new opportunities for performance design experimentation and authorship.

This is a dynamic course for highly motivated artists and practitioners looking to extend their practice and for those wishing to develop design-led processes for and within performance. Students will engage with scenography through immersion in the process of relating bodies with space, sound, light and objects.

Students will discover, discuss and engage with past and present approaches to performance design informed by a variety of disciplines, for example, video, puppetry, architecture, choreography, sound and scientific enquiry. Existing skills and practice will
be challenged, extended and refined as students investigate speculatively the creative use/misuse of tools and media. Concerned with the body, movement, spatiality and temporality, the course includes a particular attention to, and interrogation
of, the scenographer’s subjective and physical approach to design processes.

There is a mix of collaborative and independent work, exploring the interplay of conceptual and practical thinking. This includes undertaking experimental and laboratory-based case studies, as well as studying the histories and theories of perception, representation and aesthetics within historical and philosophical frameworks.

Drawing on the expertise of current staff and visiting fellow researchers and practitioners, students explore a range of methods in the design studio/rehearsal room and the lecture theatre and have the opportunity to present their work through performance and exhibition. Students work within Central’s existing studio system alongside other courses and, through negotiated learning agreements, in professional contexts.


This is by practical conceptions and realisations, written assignments and research presentations.

Visit the MA/MFA Scenography page on the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Ana Ines Jabares

When asked to describe her course at Central in three words Ana uses: ‘experimental’, ‘free’, and ‘open-minded’. ‘The course isn’t just about theatre, though’ – she interjects – ‘it really is what you make of it’.

So, what did she make of it? Ana talks a lot about ‘space’ as a concept, and it becomes clear that this is the crux of what scenography students focus on. Not physical space (as in the basic dimensions of a stage or room), but space as in the sphere in which one sets a theatrical experience. ‘It’s not about creating a pretty décor. It’s about understanding space in many different ways – how movement affects it, how bodies can create space, understanding how light and sound play a part in it in terms of overall experience, too’. Every element of production – be it for a piece of theatre, an art installation or an exhibition – plays a part in the sensory experience of the finished product, and during her MA Ana had the chance to get to grips with all of them. ‘We had so many workshops, from Butoh dance to sound design, enabling every practitioner the opportunity to understand different artistic perspectives. We also had amazing lecturers and external tutors, like Sodja Lockter, Helen Pynor, Greer Crawley, Dick Bird and Sophie Jump to name but a few.’

Ana was drawn to Scenography at Central through the range of different people that she would be working and studying alongside. ‘My peers were a combination of architects, dancers, set designers…all kinds of practitioners were welcomed and this was an incredible opportunity. We learned a lot from one another. These people are now my colleagues and contacts and we learnt to collaborate intensely. It was brilliant for our confidence, each having something unique to bring to the experience.’
‘Dancing was something I would have never thought I would do on my course, but once I understood how the body can affect a space I was glad to have tried it – it’s a concept that has informed my work since. Certain skills I learnt, I’ve not used since graduating, but am now planning on using in current projects. I was expecting a much more traditional training, and I’m very glad that that’s not what I got! I have so many more tools in my arsenal.’


Embassy Postgraduate Scholarships - No. of awards TBC

The combined awards add up to a total of £100,000 in available support ranging across both Open Awards and Postgraduate Support Scheme Awards. Open Awards will range in value between £2,000 and £5,000 each, and Postgraduate Support Scheme Awards will be allocated in the amount of £10,000 each.

Value of Scholarship(s)

Between £2,000 and £5,000 each


Home/EU/Overseas – Open Awards, Home/EU* – Postgraduate Support Scheme (must have been a £9,000 tuition fee payer for an undergraduate degree at a UK institution).

Application Procedure

Students interested in applying for an Embassy Postgraduate Scholarship must be holding an offer for an MA/MFA course by the deadline of 27 May 2016. All students holding offers by this date will be invited to apply for the Embassy Postgraduate Scholarships and will be sent an application form together with guidance notes.Criteria for the awards are based on a combination of merit (promise/ability shown in application form and at audition/interview) and hardship.For full information about eligibility criteria for these awards, please contact Central’s admissions office at [email protected]

Further Information


Entry Requirements

You should normally have an undergraduate degree in the broad field of performance, drama studies or a design subject, although applications from students of other disciplines (e.g. visual arts, architecture, sonic arts) will be considered. Applications from those with at least two years' relevant experience will also be considered. In addition, you may be required to carry out work and/or research in advance of the interview. An offer will normally only be made after interview/audition.

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Recipient: Royal Central School of Speech & Drama

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