New faculty member passionate about directing

2018-03-15 08:17:03 - Kohawk Talk

Deanna Downes
Deanna Downes,
Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre

Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre Deanna Downes is new to Coe but already making her mark. If you saw "Craigslisted" on the Dows mainstage, you've seen Downes' most recent production as a director. Currently, she's teaching Acting 1 through her post-doctoral teaching fellowship at Coe and enjoys creating a forum for students to have their stories told, heard and experienced.

"Working with a diverse student population at Coe has been a joy," Downes said. "Coe's student population is like a microcosm of our global community. It's a wonder to be able to practice communicating and learning with and through people who may not share my background and/or life experience."

Downes also is pursuing her research agenda while here: "reimagining and radicalizing process, production, performance and participation live performance arts for, by, with and in community." This goal is fulfilled by publishing articles, creating theatre pieces and forming student acting troupes. She also is working with a Toronto-based company as dramaturg for a re-envisioning of Scott Joplin's 1911 opera "Treemonisha."

Downes completed a Master of Fine Arts in Directing at Columbia University and a Ph.D. in Theatre at University of Colorado Boulder. While at CU Boulder, she headed Performers Without Borders, directed fringe festival shows, was assistant director of the Interactive Theatre Project and participated in the Art for Life program as an artist-mentor at Children's Hospital Colorado.

Prior to joining Coe, Downes worked with prestigious companies both domestically and internationally. She also has taught and directed at various universities. Her work at Eastern University in Pennsylvania included directing a new play workshop and staged reading of "Sheltered" and "Waiting for Godot," a commedia dell'arte-inspired production featuring professional commedia actors. She also co-founded the summer theatre camp.

At State University of New York Oswego, Downes taught full time and led a 10-person preproduction research team to Istanbul and Turkey. Upon returning, she directed the Turkish play, "Pera Palas," which was nominated for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

Downes previously worked with Volcano theater company on its production of "The Africa Trilogy." Over the course of three years, Downes served as assistant director of two shows and as co-director of the third. The trilogy addressing the relationship between Africa and the West was the main theatrical feature at Toronto's 2010 Luminato Festival.

As an auteur director, Downes has adapted novels for the stage, as well as dramatizations of Bertolt Brecht's poetry. "I am especially fond of using found text, adding my own writing to enhance or create the story and then using viewpoints with a creative team of actors and designers to bring it to fruition," she said.

Downes' theatre credits also include assistant director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's "Party People" and Yale Repertory Theatre's "The Piano Lesson," as well as dance dramaturg for Gesel Mason Performance Projects.