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Point Park to Offer Low-Residency M.F.A. in Screenwriting and Playwriting

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pittsburgh Bridge
"Pittsburgh was the birthplace of my writing." — Willa Cather

Nelson Chipman
Nelson Chipman

The Conservatory of Performing Arts at Point Park University will offer a low-residency Master of Fine Arts degree in screenwriting and playwriting beginning in the fall of 2014.

The new M.F.A. program in writing for the screen and stage will challenge students to write stories for the screen and stage across multiple platforms — film, theatre, television and web — so that they can create a professional portfolio to pursue a career in writing and/or teaching.

"Today's media and stage writing avenues are ever-evolving, and the need to write across multiple visual areas of interest is a must," said Nelson Chipman, associate professor and director of the new M.F.A. program. "This program will help students focus on their primary area of interest, while exposing them to many other facets of writing for the screen and stage."

The low-residency program model requires students to take courses online during the fall and spring semesters, and attend three dynamic residencies of one to two weeks on Point Park's Downtown Pittsburgh campus.

Elise D'Haene
Elise D'Haene

"A core group of talented and dedicated faculty writers will work with our students in a small, intimate workshop setting that fosters community, engagement and excellence in work," said Chipman. "Our Downtown Pittsburgh location is rich in film and theatre production, making it ripe with opportunities for writers in our program to engage with actors, directors or producers."

According to Elise D'Haene, adjunct faculty member, screenwriter, novelist and editor, artists living in Pittsburgh have an awareness that they live in a community that supports them.

"The Conservatory of Performing Arts, in the center of Downtown Pittsburgh, is a testament to the thriving, hard-working pulse of creative energy that defines this city," said D'Haene. "The M.F.A. program will be the first low-residency program at Point Park that offers students a place to take their writing to the next level. From idea to script, from dream to a reality."

Adjunct faculty member and playwright Tammy Ryan agrees.

Tammy Ryan
Tammy Ryan

"There is nothing else like this M.F.A. program regionally, specifically the focus on studying both stage and screen, with the ability to tailor your degree depending on your interests," Ryan said.

Students interested in teaching will have the opportunity to explore instructional design, course preparation and mentoring during Point Park's playwriting and screenwriting summer camps for high school students.

Students enrolled in the low-residency program can earn their M.F.A. degree in two years while balancing full-time employment and family responsibilities.

"Given our current state of events in the world, there are so many stories that need telling and being able to do that on the screen or stage can help inform, educate, entertain or just plain escape," said Chipman, who is also chair of the Department of Cinema and Digital Arts. "Because without our stories, who are we and how do we know how to operate in the world?"

Applicants are now being accepted for the fall 2014 term. For additional information on this program, contact the Office of Graduate and Adult Enrollment at 412-392-3808 or email ptenroll@pointpark.edu.

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