The School of Theatre and Dance hosts a number of visiting artists and scholars from the USA and other countries every year. As directors, choreographers, designers, dramaturgs, or simply as guests offering workshops, talks, and masterclasses, such artists offer a broad range of practices, methods, identities, and outlooks to JMU’s Theatre and Dance students. Such encounters with students sometimes lead to post- graduate employment and collaboration.

Past guests include Tim Miller, Sharon Fogerty, Ricky J. Martinez, Heather Helinsky, Richard Wilson, Patrick Pearson, Clare Croft, Gregory Dolbashian, Takuya Muramatsu, and many others. 

All artists who perform for the Forbes Center – such as Anna Deavere Smith, Patti Lupone, and Axis Dance – offer JMU students a masterclass.The artists featured below exemplify the background and activities of our guests.

Julian Boal

One of the world’s leading practitioners of the globally influential array of performance and community practices for social, cultural, and political change known as Theatre of the Oppressed, Julian further develops the work of his father, Augusto Boal, the Brazilian director, educator, and politician who created the Theatre of the Oppressed. As the leader of workshops in more than twenty countries, author of Images of a Popular Theatre, co-author (with Kelly Howe) of Theatre of the Oppressed in Actions: an Audio-Visual Introduction to Boal’s Forum Theatre, along with many articles in multiple languages, Julian offered a wealth of learning experiences during his residency.

These included

  • a week-long Forum Theatre workshop and culminating performance with JMU students
  • informal meet-and greet sessions;
  • “Rehearsal for the Revolution” colloquium;
  • Dance in Community workshop;
  • speaking and working with students in multiple classes;
  • Newspaper Theatre workshop by his co-author Kelly Howe (Loyola University, Chicago).
Maria Bauman - multi-disciplinary dance artist and community organizer

Maria Bauman is a multi-disciplinary dance artist and community organizer. As artistic director of MBDance, her work is based on “physical and emotional power, desire for equity, and fascination with intimacy.” She has won a Bessie Award for Outstanding Performance (Skeleton Architecture) and is an Artist in Residence at the noted Brooklyn Arts Exchange. In her own choreography she creates “from storied bodies, mythological bodies, bodies-in-creation, and bodies-as-manifestos,” all of which are “testaments to survival, mentorship, community care, and defiance.” Her work has been showcased at locations such as Dixon Place, DTW (now NY Live Arts), Harlem Stage, 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center, the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance (BAAD!), WOW Café Theater, and SummerStage NYC. She has danced with Urban Bush Women, Nia Love, Adele Myers and Dancers, Angela’s Pulse, Mendi + Keith Obadike, Jumatatu Poe, and jill sigman/thinkdance, and apprenticed with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance.

Her dance and cultural/community organizing intertwine, as the same desire to undo racism inspired her to co-found ACRE (Artists Co-creating Real Equity), an “inter-generational, multi-racial group of artists and cultural workers committed to organizing for racial equity in the influential realms of art and culture” (ACRE website). Offering workshops and partnering with organizations, as a facilitator and trainer she works to lift up social issues and calls for justice via art. For this remarkable work, she has received the Beth Silverman-Yam Social Action Award and the Katherine Dunham Award for scholarly/creative research. In 2017, she was also Community Action Artist in Residence at Gibney Dance Center (NYC).

During her residency at JMU, she

  • taught a modern master class for all dance majors;
  • auditioned and cast members of the Contemporary Dance Ensemble for a new work that premiered in the 2018 New Voices in Dance concert. Dedicated to Erica Garner (activist daughter of Eric Garner), the dance was inspired by Erica’s activism, short life, and the costs of being a Black woman justice organizer. In creating the piece, Maria held many conversations with the cast around the subject of white privilege and racism;
  • led a workshop for the School of Theatre and Dance faculty addressing concerns about racism in the School and beyond.
Michael John LaChiusa - musical theatre composer, librettist, and lyricist

Michael John LaChiusa is a Tony-nominated musical theatre composer, librettist, and lyricist whose Broadway works include The Wild Party, Marie Christine, and Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Noted off-Broadway works, performed in such venues as the Public Theatre, Lincoln Center, and Old Globe include First Daughter Suite, Giant, Bernarda Alba, Rain, and Queen of the Mist, for which he won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical. His work has been commissioned by the Chicago Lyric Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and the Oregon Shakespeare festival. Awards for his work include an Obie, Dramatist Guild Award, and Daytime Emmy.

During his residency at JMU, he

  • worked with students on their self-composed 10-minute mini-musicals within Harrisonburg: The Musical, as part of an interdisciplinary course and larger community project performed at the Court Square Theatre and Forbes Center Studio Theatre;
  • led a masterclass with Musical Theatre majors, coaching songs for which he wrote music and lyrics with a focus on clues given in the scoring by a composer to deepen performers’ understanding and detail their interpretation;
  • offered a Q&A attended by Musical Theatre, Theatre, and Music majors.

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