Digital Arts and New Media: MFA: Collaboration, Innovation, Social Impact

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Future Stages

with Marianne Weems 

Working in an experimental theater lab with access to new performance technologies, MFA students will undertake a two-year program which emphasizes interdisciplinarity in rigorous studio work, fluency in contemporary theater practices, and a critical understanding of the role of performance in the public sphere, The program is led by Marianne Weems, founder of the New York-based performance and media ensemble The Builders Association ( Students will have the opportunity to work with Weems on research and production, both in California and New York City. 

As our relationship with technology continues to evolve, Future Stages aims to reanimate classical modes of performance and explore how we can preserve theater’s quality of “liveness” in the digital world. Future Stages delves into tools and techniques for exploring how crossmedia practice can expand on basic theatrical relationships in new and culturally relevant ways. 

This program invites those who want to invent new models of creating, presenting, and consuming theater. Ideal candidates will be directors, media designers, performers and other artists who have had at least two years working in professional performance contexts and have broad knowledge of contemporary performance practices and the history of experimental theater. Students must have experience integrating new media with performance, which should be reflected in a strong portfolio.  The program is an opportunity to explore avenues outside of traditional theatrical production modes and beyond each student’s individual discipline.

Students will combine courses from the Digital Arts and New Media program with course offerings in the Theater Arts department. Students will participate in studio labs and full productions, develop research methods in performance and theater historiography, and attend seminars with faculty and students from the Isaac Julien Studio Lab and the Playable Games and New Media Program (APGM), and Michael Chemers in Theater Arts. The program will culminate a thesis in the form of a fully-resourced professional production.

Working with Marianne Weems and artists from the New York-based company The Builders Association, the goal is to investigate contemporary languages that allow authors, actors and technologists to collaborate in ways that push beyond our present understanding of theatrical production and reception. 

Upon completion of this MFA students will be able to:

  • Professionally participate in productions that use crossmedia approaches.
  • Cultivate the ability to work collaboratively with artists from diverse disciplines.
  • Develop practical knowledge of creating basic media systems at theatrical scale.
  • Develop an entrepreneurial approach to support and sustainability of the artistic vision.
  • Conceive possibilities for how these ideas impact their role as makers and discover avenues for future work.

For more information contact or

Apply online via the UCSC Grad Division.

Image: Marianne Weems, The Builders Association, Elements of Oz (2019)