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Shaking Up “the American Stage”

A Panel Discussion & Workshop
January 29, 2021 - 4:00pm

Virtual Zoom event. Meeting link:

'Marisol,' by José RIvera and directed by Talvin WIlks, Fall 2016. Photo by Dan Norman.

'Marisol,' by José RIvera and directed by Talvin WIlks, Fall 2016. Photo by Dan Norman.
'Marisol,' by José RIvera and directed by Talvin WIlks, Fall 2016. Photo by Dan Norman.

SHAKING UP "THE AMERICAN STAGE," an interactive panel and workshop.

What happens to the American Stage when it is shaken to its core? Join a panel of nationally renowned (and local) artists, moderated by UMN Theatre Professor Talvin Wilks, as they confront this question. The interactive panel will be followed by break-out discussions designed to reshape our collective theatrical future.

January 29, 2021 at 4pm - 6pm CST
Virtual Zoom event. Meeting link:

Moderated by BFA Program Director Aaron Todd Douglas.
Panelists include Sarah Bellamy, Bill Rauch and Rhiana Yazzie.

This event is sponsored by the UMTAD Arts Engagement HUB.

Click here for our Facebook event.

About the Event:

Moments of crisis shake things up. They disturb, rupture, illuminate fault lines - but can also invite new shapes and inquiries. After the murder of George Floyd and in the midst of COVID-19, we are urged to reconsider the stories we tell through theater and how we tell them. Theatrical closures, wildfires, and racial ruptures shake up our assumptions of what “the American stage” might look like. How do we design, cast, or re-envision seasons? Does the framework of “the American stage” still serve us? How might Indigenous theatrical reimaginings - of time/ space/ narrative - prompt different stories in and of “the American stage”? What other kinds of cultural literacies might we need to embrace? 

The University of Minnesota’s Department of Theatre Arts and Dance and Jubilee Hub invite you to an interactive panel and workshop moderated by BFA Program Director Aaron Todd Douglas and featuring Artistic Directors Sarah Bellamy (Penumbra Theater and Center of Racial Healing St. Paul), Bill Rauch (Perelman Center, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Cornerstone Theater), and Rhiana Yazzie (New Native Theatre, Twin Cities). Following an interactive panel, we will convene in breakout groups to propose new imaginings around seasons, curriculum, and theatrical storytelling. 

About the Panelists: 

Sarah Bellamy is the artistic director of Penumbra, a 44-year old black theatre company now evolving into a Center for Racial Healing. Her stewardship of the organization came on the heels of her father [UMN Theater Professor Emeritus Lou Bellamy]’s forty year tenure and strikes a purposeful balance between a vitalized future and a reverent past. Through the Twin Cities Theatres of Color Coalition (which includes New Native Theatre), Sarah has worked to address disparities in philanthropy for arts organizations of color, support community organizing for artists of color, and increase accountability for predominately white institutions attempting to create programming that engages diverse audiences. Sarah holds a BA from Sarah Lawrence College where she studied creative writing and postcolonial theory and an M.A. in Humanities from the University of Chicago. She has taught at Macalester College, the University of Minnesota, and Union Theological Seminary. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with her husband and two small children.

Bill Rauch is the inaugural Artistic Director of The Perelman, currently under construction at the World Trade Center. His work as a theater director has been seen across the nation, from rural community centers to Broadway as well as at many of the largest regional theaters in the country. From 2007 to 2019, Bill was Artistic Director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the country’s oldest and largest rotating repertory theater. He is also co-founder of Cornerstone Theater Company where he served as artistic director from 1986 to 2006, directing more than 40 productions, most of them collaborations with low-income communities. Bill was a Claire Trevor Professor at the University of California Irvine, and was educated at Harvard College. He currently lives in New York City with his husband and daughter. 
Rhiana Yazzie is a Steinberg Award winning playwright, director, filmmaker and artistic director of New Native Theatre, the most consistently producing professional theatre dedicated to telling Native stories in the Upper Midwest. She is a 2018/19 Bush Leadership Fellow, a 2017 Sally Award Winner for Vision, a 2016/2017 Playwrights’ Center McKnight Fellow, a two-time Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellow (2010/2011 and 2006/2007) and was a Playwrights’ Center Core Member for three years. She has just finished her new play, QUEEN CLEOPATRE AND PRINCESS POCAHONTAS and she is in post production with her first feature film, A WINTER LOVE (writer/director/starring). Her new play, NANCY, about Nancy Reagan and her intersection with Indian Country in the 80s, astrology, and her little known about Native heritage, will be workshopped at The Playwrights’ Center in April, 2021 through their Ruth Easton Series.

Aaron Todd Douglas (Moderator) is the Director of the University of Minnesota/Guthrie BFA Acting program and is a theatre artist who acts, directs, writes and teaches.  Formerly based in Chicago, Aaron Todd is a Founding Ensemble Member and was a Playwright-in-Residence of Congo Square Theatre Company. He was the inaugural Next Generation Management Fellow at Victory Gardens Theater.  A Chicago stage veteran, Aaron Todd has acted and directed at many of Chicago’s finest theatre companies including The Goodman, ETA Creative Arts, Theatre, Victory Gardens, Chicago Shakespeare, The Court and Steppenwolf. HIs plays include Upstate, and The Master Comic (International Ibsen Scholarship Winner), both produced by MPAACT Theatre.  He most recently performed in Immortal Goats by Idris Goodwin for Black Lives Black Words International Project where he is an Associate Artist.  He is currently working with Rivendell Theatre, acting in the upcoming production, Just Cause.


Image: Marisol by José Rivera, directed by Talvin Wilks, Fall 2016. Photo by Dan Norman.

Shaking up “the American Stage”: Work-in-Progress Bibliography
This is a work-in-progress designed to keep us developing as a department.

Click here for the bibliography Google Doc.