Photo credit: Charlotte Brickwood
  • Assistant Professor, Theatre

Current Courses

Spring 2024

  • THEA 2230-001
    2nd-Year Acting ATP
    Location: PAB 110 (PAB 110)
  • THEA 3110-001
    Beg Stage Directing
    Location: PAB 110 (PAB 110)
  • THEA 3920-001
    Beg Performance Project
  • THEA 3930-002
    Undergrad Research Proj

Fall 2023

Professional Organizations

  • Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC). 06/2021 - present. Position : Associate Member .
  • Ground Works. 11/2020 - present. Position : Editorial Board Faculty Representative.
  • StateraArts. 11/30/2018 - present. Position : Member.
  • Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA). 07/2015 - present. Position : Member.
  • Flying Bobcat Theatrical Laboratory. 01/02/2012 - present. Position : Co-Artistic Director/Founder.
  • Actors' Equity Association. 01/2001 - present. Position : Member.

Teaching Philosophy

SITI Company Artist Director Anne Bogart asserts that there are three necessary ingredients to creating successful theatre: content, technique, and passion. As a teacher, I am striving to connect my students to these three pursuits: to recognize the stories we are compelled to tell; to develop both the imagination and the skill to tell them; and to have the engagement and empathy that produce the creative heat that makes those stories necessary and galvanic.

In an interview on NPR’s On BeingBrainpickings’ creator and editor Maria Popova spoke to the need for both stewardship and disruption in our culture. All around us, traditions and expectations are being questioned, challenged, and transformed; we are deciding which stories and practices we choose to disrupt and those which we choose to nurture and steward. Moreover, we are forging new paradigms and finding language and structure for what is truly best practice and sustainable. Director Jenny Koons posits that our rehearsal rooms, classrooms, and performance venues are “the spaces where we model, and redefine, the social patterns of oppression or liberation.” As a director and educator, I am working to bring all of us to a greater state of attention and intention as we collaborate, create, and share that work with audiences. I am working to build company and community.

As a director and educator, my methods are magpie in nature. We have to find our own alchemical mix of systems, techniques, and tools which allows us to navigate and embody the work. I have always found creative process fascinating, and I instinctively study other directors’, choreographers’, and actors’ work intently – rehearsals, performances, videos, images, interviews – whatever the artifact - and attempt to collect what catches the light. I encourage my students to do the same. The goal of our coursework is to understand the component parts of text and process and how they work in concert with one another. I encourage my students to experiment in the classroom and in the rehearsal room, to try things on for size, and then fold what feels most vital and kinetic into their own practice. When I teach, I often echo Anne Bogart’s admonishment: “be a good thief.” (Wonderfully, I recently discovered that this is stolen from Jerzy Grotowski.) Grotowski’s long-time collaborator Thomas Richards elucidates that being a good thief “demands an active effort from the learner, because he should steal the knowledge trying to conquer the capacity to do.”

Striving to conquer the capacity to do – the appetite to understand, embody and actively use that knowledge – feels like the engine of the creative process and the aim of our ongoing study, training, and rehearsal processes. Answers to creative problems surface as we pursue inquiry and exploration over time. In tracking our questions – sometimes doggedly and sometimes with an ease and playfulness - we connect to and build upon our own idiosyncratic pathways of learning. We study the legacy we have as theatre artists and train to become aware of the systems and techniques available to us and how to utilize them – from script analysis to Viewpoints, Frantic Assembly’s building blocks for devising, Shurtleff’s guideposts, Laban efforts, actioning, punctuation scoring, et al. I tell my students that, as with acting, a large part of our work is ‘knowing what kind of play we’re in’ so that as directors we recognize the specific needs and properties of a play-world and can choose the theatrical language which best serves that particular story. I discuss ways to communicate more effectively with a creative team: actors, stage management, designers, and producers; so that every element unifies and fortifies that storytelling.

In Kristy Young’s Desert Island Discs’interview with Complicité Artistic Director Simon McBurney, McBurney recalls a large cross-section of earth which hung on his archeologist father’s wall. McBurney recounts how that stratified mud led him to understand time as vertical in nature rather than horizontal; he spoke of those moments when time is on the verge of collapsing in upon itself and when the deep past is actually very close to us. When Flying Bobcat Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director Robert Scott Smith and I first began devising work together at the Leonardo Museum, we were hunting for inspiration and working methods and happened upon Michael J. Gelb's How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci.The da Vinci principles have become a divining rod of sorts, a system of attention as I navigate and dig deeper into the layers of the work. The principles speak to our quest in the studio and rehearsal room: the pursuit of continuous learning, the need to test knowledge and learn from our mistakes, a willingness to embrace uncertainty, the refinement of the senses, the balance of logic and imagination, the cultivation of physical dexterity and skill. Connessioneis the culmination of all the principles for me: “a recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena. (Systems thinking)." McBurney’s vertical time speaks to connessionefor me. Our work in the rehearsal room and in the classroom is a process of systems, layers, and constellations. I am trying to create the circumstances in which an encounter, connessione, can happen.

Alexandra Harbold