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The Dramatic Arts Program at D’Youville is a two-year intensive that trains students for sustainable, inspired artistic careers. In partnership with the Kavinoky Theatre, D’Youville’s professional theater company in residence 1980, the MFA program provides a creative community for students to hone their craft and articulate their vision working alongside working professionals and academics.

students participating in movement class
Students exploring movement and physical awareness

We believe that art is a central part of the human experience. It is fundamental to the health of the individual and a healthy individual is fundamental to social, economic, and civic health. We believe that artists, by sharing their stories, can challenge the primacy of the past and the assumptions of the present in order to imagine our future. We believe that the future will be imagined by well-trained, holistic practitioners who are committed to the advancement of art in society.

In the Dramatic Arts Program, faculty guide students through a robust, inquiry-based program shaped by three values:

  • Audacity: audacity in theater means making big, fearless choices on stage and off; it means telling stories your way, with authenticity and integrity; it means questioning what was and imagining what will be.
  • Agility: agility in a performer means control of their instrument: the body, voice, and mind. It looks like knowing boundaries in order to have free reign of artistic expression within those boundaries; it looks like having a well-honed practice, with a toolbox of techniques to habitually revisit in preparation for any story that comes your way.
  • Agency: to create the work one wants to make a performer must have the ability to do so. That comes from having the skills, tools, and knowledge to advocate for oneself and one’s work in order to build a career based on choice.

Program Goals

  • To train holistically with a prioritization on individuality, wellness, and agency in the care of body, mind, and character.
  • To develop kinesthetic, creative, and critical awareness.
  • To practice collaborative, ensemble-based models guided by anti-racist principles.
  • To foster advocacy, leadership, and the desire to use talents in the service of community.
Large converted chapel with stage, balcony, and ornate early 1900s trimwork.

The original chapel inside the Koessler Administration Building which serves as studio and classroom space for the Masters of Fine Arts program.

Program Objectives

Critical capacity to apply historical, dramaturgical, and theoretical knowledge to the articulation of personal artistic values and the ability to communicate and employ those values in a clear, cohesive, and intentional aesthetic practice.

Advanced knowledge of the performer’s physical instrument (voice and body) and ability to safely use the expressive range of their individual artistic body in performance both as an individual and as part of a collaborative ensemble.

Engaging with civic responsibility of an artist through active participation in, and advancement of, the field of study, with the agility to adapt theatrical principles across sectors.

MFA student performing

Explore Courses in Dramatic Arts

To view all required courses visit our course catalog.

Get to Know Our Faculty

Katie Mallinson Headshot

Katie Mallinson (Program Director) is a director and dramaturg with an interest in developing communities, particularly in her hometown of Buffalo. Her focus is on dramaturgical values as a foundation for artistry, identity, and collaboration. She received her MFA in Dramaturgy from the Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. She’s earned two Artie Awards for Outstanding Direction of a Play (Guards at the Taj in 2023 and Photograph 51 in 2022). Additional select directorial credits include: Bloom (Raices Theatre Company); People, Places, & Things (The Kavinoky Theatre); The Nether, Dinner With Friends, and Freud’s Last Session (Road Less Traveled Productions); Design For Living (Irish Classical Theatre); and Deathtrap (Lancaster Opera House). She is a member of the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas and an Ensemble Member at Road Less Traveled Productions.

Megan Callahan Headshot

Megan Callahan (Voice, Movement, Acting). Megan is both a performing and holistic artist. She knew as a young child that she was a highly creative being and was drawn to assisting and empowering people from all walks of life on their journeys. She loves to work with people to help them become more connected to and aware of their innate wisdom and potential. She found her way to yoga as a young teen to help with a serious physical condition, and continues to be amazed and humbled by what is discovered on and off the mat, and works to deeply honor the lineage from which this practice emerged, and to help the practice become more accessible to all folks seeking liberation and self-actualization, and to support how folks can show up in service with a balanced heart during these critical times.

She is also an energy worker of several modalities, a writer, actor, musician, and director. She has taught theater for over fifteen years and holds a Master of Fine Arts in Acting from Wayne State University/The Hilberry Repertory Theatre Company, has a certificate of completion as a teacher in the Michael Chekhov technique, which she has been studying since 2004, and has studied at the Moscow Art Theater (MXAT) and the Globe Theater in London. In addition to teaching theater to all ages, Megan is a nominated and acclaimed director, dialect coach, actor and musician. She has taught the Michael Chekhov technique for many years, including workshops in Ireland and throughout the United States. Most recently she directed an award-winning production of Frankenstein (via the Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival) at her alma mater of Ramapo College of New Jersey. Some of her local directing credits include, Mojada (RaÌces Theater Company, staged reading), My Birthday Party (Against the Grain Theater Festival, staged reading), Lulu, Uncle Vanya, He Who Gets Slapped, The Furies of Mother Jones and Far Away. As an actor and dialect coach she has worked with Torn Space Theater, ICTC, Musicalfare, Jewish Repertory Theater, The Kavinoky, Theater of Youth, Shakespeare in Delaware Park, Second Generation Theater, BUA, Subversive Theater Collective and The Alt. She is also a mother to two young, energetic and lovely boys.

Kelly Meg Brennan Headshot

Kelly Meg Brennan (Voice, Production). I am a committed, diverse creator and performer. From operas to plays to my own devised work, I bring great passion and dedication to arriving at the truth of each character and performance moment whether embodying an aria of heartache or lobbing sarcastic comebacks in a farcical play. Rooted in appreciation of the myriad personal qualities of those around me, I have a keen sense of empathy and kinesthetic understanding, which has enabled me to portray a colorful assortment of characters in a range of venues. Theater allows us to open our understanding of our shared humanity, it shows the world from another’s perspective and invites you on their journey. I have tremendous respect for the craft and the exploration of performing and am constantly seeking opportunities to stretch my creative endeavors.

Admissions Requirements

Admissions require completion of our online application and an audition/interview with faculty.

More information on auditions can be found at, or schedule an audition directly by emailing Katie Mallinson at

Apply Now

Our online application is free and easy to submit.