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York University MFA Program

Launched in 2011 as a bridge between emerging and established theatre artists, the landmark collaboration between Canadian Stage and York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) supports the development of next-generation talent.

Professional Development at Shakespeare in High Park

Each year, a diverse group of undergraduate and graduate York theatre students share their talents on stage, backstage and on the creative teams for Shakespeare in High Park, working alongside leading professionals in performance, design, production and stage management.

York University MFA in Theatre

The MFA in Theatre – Stage Direction in Collaboration with Canadian Stage brings together one of Canada’s preeminent theatre schools and one of the country’s leading not-for-profit contemporary theatre companies, to offer highly specialized, advanced training in large-scale theatre directing. The two-year program allows students to develop their creative and technical skills to the highest level within a rigorous academic and professional context.

Students are deeply immersed in the professional world of theatre as they integrate their studio work at York with involvement in artistic projects at Canadian Stage. The program is customized for each student based on their experience, artistic orientation and goals. Key elements of this enriched academic experience include the opportunity to direct a Canadian Stage production and an internship with a major national or international theatre. Past internships include: Robert Carsen in Baden Baden, Ivo van Hove in Amsterdam, Peter Sellars in London, and Peter Stein in Vienna.

Past and present MFA graduates include: 2011-13: Ker Wells, Ted Witzel; 2013-15: Matjash Mrozewski, Estelle Shook; 2015-17: Tanja Jacobs, Alistair Newton; 2017-18: Liza Balkan, Severn Thompson; 2018-2019: Alison Wong.

Meet the current MFA candidate

Alison Wong


Alison Wong is a director, performer and producer based in Toronto. Recent directing credits include Stormy Weather (IN Series, Washington DC), La fedeltà premiata (Royal Opera House, Mumbai India), Joshua (Ars Musica, Toronto), The Bremen Town Musicians (Canadian Opera Company), and Béatrice et Bénédict (MYOpera, Toronto). Alison's directing work has taken her to productions in the United States, Italy, India, and the Netherlands. In 2015/2016, she was part of Factory Theatre's inaugural Factory Foremen program for early-career directors of colour. In 2017, she also concluded a five-season term as Artistic Producer with b current, a Toronto-based company of over 25 years dedicated to developing new Canadian plays by Artists of Colour. Over the last two years, she was the Creative Producer for the world premieres of The Empire - a trilogy of modern epics by award-winning playwright Susanna Fournier, part of the New Chapter program celebrating Canada’s 150-year anniversary, which culminated at the international Luminato Festival.

Former Candidates

2017-2018

Liza Balkan

Director, Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare in High Park (2019)

Director, Ghosts of My House as part of Canadian Stage's 19.20 season (upcoming)

Severn Thompson

Director, Measure for Measure, Shakespeare in High Park (2019)

Director, All The Ways You Scare Me as part of Canadian Stage's 19.20 season (upcoming)
2015-2017

Tanja Jacobs

Director, Twelfth Night, Shakespeare in High Park (2017)

Co-director, Love and Information as part of Canadian Stage's 17.18 season (upcoming)

Alistair Newton

Director, King Lear, Shakespeare in High Park (2017)

Co-director, Love and Information as part of Canadian Stage's 17.18 season (upcoming)
2013-2015

Matjash Mrozewski

Directed The Comedy of Errors at Canadian Stage's Shakespeare in High Park (2015)

Directed Botticelli in the Fire as part of Canadian Stage's 15.16 Season

International residency with Peter Sellars at English National Opera, London, on The Gospel According to the Other Mary

Estelle Shook

Directed Julius Caesar at Canadian Stage's Shakespeare in High Park (2015)

Directed Sunday in Sodom as part of Canadian Stage's 15.16 Season

International residency with Peter Stein at Vienna State Opera, Vienna, on The Markopulos Case
2011-2013

Ted Witzel

Directed Taming of the Shrew at Canadian Stage's Shakespeare in High Park (2013)

Directed Yukonstyle as part of Canadian Stage's 13.14 Season

International residency with Robert Carson at Festspielhaus, Baden-Baden, on The Magic Flute

Ker Wells

Directed Macbeth at Canadian Stage's Shakespeare in High Park (2013)

Directed The Flood Thereafter as part of Canadian Stage’s 13.14 Season

International residency with Ivo Van Hove at Toneelgroep, Amsterdam, on The Fountainhead