Mag. art.
© Thorben Schumüller

The directing program combines theatre practice, theoretical reflection and social context. It offers an extensive preparation for the various challenges of practical theatre work. During the eight-semester diploma program, students learn about central forms of theatrical performance and how to understand them in a social context. The program encourages students to develop an independent stance and teaches them the basic means to express themselves artistically. In addition to practical work an intensive examination of historical and contemporary theatre texts, philosophy, sociology, politics, literature and art history are included.


© Thorben Schumüller

Study program & career fields

In addition to a wide range of classes (directing, dramaturgy, space, lighting, stage technology, costume design, etc.), students develop their own scenes and projects with the drama students and in cooperation with other Salzburg cultural institutions. Workshops complement and deepen the work. 

Dealing with social issues in connection with contemporary aesthetic and methodological approaches is an integral part of the directing course. In addition to the classic techniques of role appropriation, the course also explores ways of acting that, for example, do not require a literary model and take an image, a space or a biography as the starting point for a scenic event.

General study information

Aesthetic, philosophical, social questions are worked through practically and theoretically on the basis of given texts as well as free scenic exercises. Trying things out and thinking about them must always be related to each other. In this process, perceptiveness and mental agility are developed, as well as the ability to structure and promote scenic events and work processes. The examination of texts is not done abstractly and theoretically, it is related to space, body and movement as the basic elements of play/acting .

What problems actors have when working on the role, how intentions are conveyed, what can be done to acquire leadership, conflict and dialogue skills, this is learned in rehearsal work with acting students. Likewise, independence, patience and perseverance as indispensable virtues of directors. In addition, the intensive and pleasurable examination of questions of time is to be advanced in dialogue.

Theatre practice at the Thomas Bernhard Institute is characterized by the close collaboration between acting and directing students. After completing a foundation year together, joint theatre work forms the core of the curriculum. The projects taking place each semester cover a broad spectrum of contemporary theatre forms. In addition to staging dramatic texts, students also learn working methods from the fields of theatre for young audiences, as well as research-based and documentary project work. The program is completed by additional workshops, in e.g.  radio play directing, songwriting and music theatre. Artistic projects are supervised by lecturers of the Thomas Bernhard Institute as well as experienced guest lecturers from various areas of theatre practice. Students have access to the institute's own theatre in the Kunstquartier (TIKQ) as well as other rehearsal- and workspaces. In addition, there are regular collaborations with Austrian and international cultural institutions, such as the Salzburg Festival, ARGE Kultur, the State Theatre in Oldenburg and the Ruhrtriennale in Bochum.

The study program is divided into a basic and a main study. In the basic classes (1st semester), acting and directing students learn the basics of acting and improvisation together. The focus is on the fun exploration and development of individual playful possibilities.

In the main course of study, future directors receive comprehensive training in theater theory and scenic practice. This includes intensive study of historical and contemporary theater texts, philosophy, sociology, politics, literature and art history, as well as the development of practical skills to creatively manage rehearsal processes. In addition to a wide range of classes (directing, dramaturgy, space, lighting, stagecraft, costuming, etc.), they develop their own scenes and study projects with the acting students. Workshops complement and deepen the work. The studies are concluded with a diploma production.

Link to semester schedule (1st semester)

A special concern of the Department of Acting, Directing & Applied Theatre is to further develop the study program in constant exchange with current stage and performance practice.

NOTE: The start of studies is only possible in the summer semester.

The prerequisite for the diploma course is passing the entrance examination. Registration for this takes place online in the registration portal for study applicants.

At the time of application, a minimum age of 19 years should be reached. Matura/Abitur is not a mandatory requirement for admission.
A special talent in terms of individual perception and interest in social issues combined with a strong scenic imagination is expected.

The entrance exam for the directing programme consists of several parts. For the first part of the entrance exam, several written papers on given topics have to be submitted.

First round of the entrance exam (updated schedule for 2023/2024)

  • Development of a directing concept, either for one of 2 plays or a free concept, including a description of the conceptual approach (preferably also a stage design idea, max. 2 DIN A4 pages):
    1. „Pioniere in Ingolstadt“ by Marie Luise Fleißner OR
    2. „Wolken.Heim“ by Elfriede Jelinek OR 
    3. Free concept development with the linked text passage from "Der Keller" by Thomas Bernhard
  • Description of an event from one's own immediate past that has moved very much (max. 1 DIN A4 page)
  • Report of a theater performance recently attended (whether perceived positively or negatively, ½ DIN A4 page)
  • Short text about the personal motivation to study directing (½ DIN A4 page)
  • Tabular curriculum vitae 

The written work is to be uploaded as a PDF file in the application form by 03.01.2024.

Second round of the entrance exam

After the submitted documents have been evaluated, selected applicants will be invited to the second round of the entrance examination. This will take place on 24.01.2024 as a Zoom conversation. The invitation will be sent by email.

Third and forth round of the entrance exam

Those applicants who are shortlisted after the Zoom conversation will be invited to the 3rd round. Here, a committee decides through discussions and practical exercises whether to take part in the 4th round (final round) and subsequently whether to be accepted into the directing course of study.
The third and fourth rounds of the entrance examination will take place on 5. and 6.02.2024.

For applicants whose first language is not German, proof of German language skills must be provided.

  • Our examination rooms are barrier-free. The department has an elevator to the upper floors and a stair lift to the basement.
  • On examination days, our students are available to assist you if necessary.
  • If you have any questions regarding the entrance examination and your studies, please contact our secretary's office: +43 676 88122 445. You will then be put in touch with a person from our department with whom you can discuss your specific needs. +43 676 88122 445. You will then be put in touch with a person from our department with whom you can discuss your specific needs.


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Andreas Greiml | © Christian Schneider
Andreas Greiml

Department management / overall technical management / Lecturer for stage technology

Service department management

Lecturer for drama

Stephan Pfister | © Christian Schneider
Stephan Pfister

Dispatcher / Assistant to the Head of Department / Lecturer for Cultural Management & Organisation of Work Processes

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