E ’magnifico: Innovation leads to MUW degree in Italy

January 2, 2010 9:19:00 PM

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


A new Master of Fine Arts program offered at Accademia dell''Arte in Arezzo, Italy, in partnership with Mississippi University for Women, brings to fruition a goal William "Peppy" Biddy and many others have worked toward for several years. 


The degree, which was approved in November 2007 by the IHL Board, is an MFA in physical theatre. Courses are primarily on the Arezzo campus, with modules offered in Torino, Berlin and Venice. In September 2009, 12 students from the inaugural class started the semester in Arezzo. 


Biddy recently returned from a trip to Arezzo, in the Tuscany region, to oversee and assess one of MUW''s newest degrees. 


"Taking full advantage of its European setting, the Accademia has designed a program that brings together some of the most exciting and innovative artists and approaches to physical theatre currently available in Europe," he concurs. 


The MFA degree combines the study of movement and dance, Italian language, voice and music with the study of circus arts, techniques of the commedia dell''arte ("comedy of craft") and contemporary mime/masks.  




Inspired concept 


The Accademia dell''Arte''s founding director is Scott McGehee, a native of Little Rock, Ark. McGehee moved to Italy as a Fullbright Fellow in 1995 and has lived there ever since. He and Biddy were originally introduced by Birney Imes of Columbus. 


"Scott discovered there was no school there offering the Italian traditional art form in any true academic, organized way," noted Biddy.  


McGehee, Biddy and others committed themselves to developing a program that would allow students from the United States and elsewhere to study in the region so culturally rich in the arts, architecture and history. 


"MUW now has an ongoing relationship with an international school and its faculty," Biddy continued. "Its name will be on the diploma of young professional artists all over the world ... "  


The department chair hopes some MFA graduates will eventually travel to the Columbus campus to teach modules and present their original theatrical works. "This will give our undergraduate program a unique offering that no other program in the state or region has."  


For more information on this new degree and the Accademia dell''Arte, contact Biddy at 662-329-7260, or e-mail [email protected]

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.