By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The Oklahoma City University School of Theatre has signed Leslie Swackhamer, a national award-winning stage director, to serve as an adjunct professor and guest director. Her professional experience includes directing opera and theatre productions across the U.S.
Swackhamer will begin her new role at OKCU by directing the mainstage production of “The House of Atreus: Part One” in March. She will also teach theatre-directing masterclasses and mentor students.
“I’m very committed to mentoring tomorrow’s generation of theatre artists,” Swackhamer said. “They give me so much energy and joy in our process together, and it’s a privilege to help launch their careers. I have been so impressed with the entire theatre program at OKCU — from stage management, design and production to my actors. These students are talented, and are receiving excellent training.”
Swackhamer added that she is looking forward to seeing “The House of Atreus” come to fruition.
“It’s not often that theaters tackle the ancient Greek plays that are really the foundation of our art form. This fresh adaptation, by OKCU faculty member Lance Marsh, taps into the original power of the pieces. It is really eloquent in displaying why these plays are still so relevant to the human condition. I’m excited to start rehearsing and bring these plays to life,” she said.
Swackhamer most recently developed the opera “Madame Butterfly” for the Washington National Opera, which will stage in May.
She serves as executive director of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the oldest and largest international prize specifically recognizing women playwrights. She is also a founder of the Women Playwright’s Festival in Seattle.
Swackhamer has workshopped, directed, written or produced more than 100 new works at theatre and opera companies across America.
Her previous teaching experience includes the University of Washington, University of Texas, University of Southern California and others. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Emory University, a Master of Fine Arts in theatre from the University of Washington and a juris doctor degree from George Washington University.
“It is a clear measure of the quality and prestige of OKCU School of Theatre that we are able to attract to our faculty such a renowned and acclaimed artist as Leslie Swackhamer,” said Brian Parsons, associate dean of the School of Theatre. “I am delighted that our students, faculty and staff have this opportunity to collaborate with this leading light of the American stage.”
Oklahoma City University’s School of Theatre was named the best theatre college in Oklahoma in OnStage’s state-by-state listings for 2017.
The School of Theatre was recognized for its collaboration with the music and dance schools in producing “a mix of fully realized productions of theatre classics and relevant contemporary plays, as well as co-productions with three professional co-producing partners, and has staged readings of plays that deal with important current social issues.”
TheatreOCU offers a seven-show main stage season, and collaborates with the other schools in the Margaret E. Petree College of Performing Arts (Music and Dance & Arts Management) in an additional seven productions.
For more information, visit www.okcu.edu/theatre.