About Us

Theatre Arts Department Mission

Our mission is to create Art in Action: theatre that is engaged and inclusive, rigorous and enjoyable, thoughtful and transformative. Theatre Arts at UofL challenges students to become critical thinkers who take pleasure connecting with local, national, and global communities through live performance. Graduates explore the world with the courage, discipline, and practical skills required of theatre artists—imagination, empathy, critical analysis, craftsmanship, problem solving, social awareness and collaboration.

Department History and Background

Theatre Arts Department (TAD)

Dating back to the founding of the University Dramatic Club in 1923, the Theatre Arts Department is committed to the development of its students as human beings and to nurturing their apprenticeship as theatre artists. The department fosters creativity, collaboration, discipline, and artistic growth in its students.  It embraces the theatre as a means of creative expression, cultural understanding, social development, and historical perspective. We train students in the fine art of theatre, voice, movement, scene study, and design and also teach the historical and literary context of the theatre as a humanist and liberal art.  All students are exposed to the diversity of multicultural theatre. The department strives to develop, disseminate, and preserve knowledge.  This knowledge includes the ability to understand the theatre arts, to appreciate them, and to create works of art that enhance the human condition.

African American Theatre Program (AATP)

Founded in 1993, the African American Theatre Program is integral to the Theatre Arts Department.  It develops theatre artists trained in the traditions of African American theatre and contributes to the multi-cultural arts movement.  The AATP includes two Mainstage productions a season, community service, touring, and eight courses for graduate and undergraduate students.  Subjects include theatre history, literature, performance, and theatre practicum.  Undergraduates can earn a minor in African American Theatre, while graduate students can earn a Graduate Certificate in African American Theatre.  These studies in African American theatre are unique among American universities.

The College of Arts and Sciences MissionArts & Sciences Thinker Logo

The mission of the College of Arts and Sciences is to improve life in the Commonwealth and particularly in the greater Louisville urban area, creating knowledge through its research, sharing knowledge through its teaching, and guiding all its students to realize their potential.

We believe that an excellent education in the liberal arts and sciences is the best preparation for life and work in a world of increasing diversity and ever-accelerating change because it prepares our graduates to be informed and critical thinkers, creative problem-solvers, and confident communicators.

Our students learn by doing: they conduct research and express their creativity, include ethical considerations in their thinking, and experience their world from the perspectives of other cultures. The College brings the heritage of the intellectual tradition to bear on the challenges of the future.

The University of Louisville MissionUofL Logo

The University of Louisville shall be a premier, nationally recognized metropolitan research university with a commitment to the liberal arts and sciences and the the intellectual, cultural, and economic development of our diverse communities and citizens through the pursuit of excellence in five interrelated strategic areas:

  1. Education Experience
  2. Research, Creative, and Scholarly Activity
  3. Accessibility, Diversity, Equity, and Communication
  4. Partnerships and Collaborations
  5. Institutional Effectiveness of Programs and Services
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Faculty & Staff

Full-Time Faculty

Braden Blauser

Braden Blauser

Assistant Professor, Technical Director, Production Manager

Phone: (502) 852-8688

Braden is an Assistant Professor and Technical Director of the University of Louisville's theatre department. He previously worked at Actors Theatre of Louisville for 13 years. During his tenure at ATL he worked on over two hundred productions, as a scenic carpenter, draftsman/rigger, assistant technical director, and production technical director. Braden was the inaugural technical director for Theatre [502], a local theatre that produced 4-5 plays each season. Braden holds a BA in technical theatre from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. 

Catron Booker

Assistant Professor of AATP, Co-Director of the AATP

Phone: (502) 852-8576

Catron Booker (she/her) is a performance artist, filmmaker, and theatre practitioner.

Working from a Black feminist performance framework, the focus of her artistic practice is to continue arriving at rigorous formal questions which assertively imagine futures of equality, liberation, and sustainability.

Recent theatre projects include directing Eye of the Brainstorm, a devised theatre piece on community health with an intersectional lens on social justice at the University of Florida.

Previous film screenings include Anthology Film Archives (NYC), Seattle Local Sightings Film Fest, Cologne International Videoart Festival, and the GLBT Historical Society of San Francisco. She has also co-directed HABLAMOS, a PSA for the prevention of HIV/AIDS in collaboration with sexual health educators in Guatemala City as a UNESCO grant recipient.

As an actor, television roles include guest starring in Days of Our Lives (NBC), performing and facilitating with San Francisco’s New Conservatory program for the prevention of HIV/AIDS and various professional roles in independent film and television. As a theatre educator, she has also facilitated numerous theatre workshops with HIV+ youth for NAPWA as well as having taught spoken-word poetry workshops as an Americorps arts educator at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center (Chicago). She has also worked in theatre and media production throughout Mexico including translating and editing La Vaca Napux, a children’s educational television series for Vientos Culturales (Chiapas).

Performance art works have been presented at Lexington Art League (Lexington, Kentucky), El Balcón (Oaxaca, Mexico), as a featured artist in Obsidian: Literature & Arts of the African Diaspora and in Mexico City at La Gozadera. Artist Residencies include ACRE (Steuben, Wisconsin), OFAR (Richmond, Virginia) and Wreck City Residency (Calgary, Canada).

Areas of interest: Devised Theatre & Solo Performance, Afro-Futurism, Archival Practices, Video Art & Experimental Film.


MFA in Acting, University of California, Los Angeles

MFA in Film, Video, Animation and New Genres. University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Ariadne Calvano

Ari Calvano

Associate Professor of Acting and Movement, Resident Intimacy Director

Phone: (502) 852-8447

Dr. Calvano explores movement-based performance in the classroom, as a Director and Intimacy Choreographer at UofL, and in their professional artistic practice. Their classroom approach facilitates an active physical exploration of identity, expression, and vulnerability. This is achieved through a variety of movement lenses, including yoga, Grotowski-based, Laban, and Bartenieff approaches. They actively seek to challenge colonialism and their white gaze, especially within a period movement context.

Dr. Calvano’s directing credits include a collaboration with the Louisville Ballet ChorShow titled The Movement and Women Laughing Alone with Salad with Theatre [502]. They achieved certification in Intimacy Direction with Intimacy Directors and Choreographers in 2022. Their intimacy choreography and coaching credits include Love/Sick with Sinclair College in Dayton, OH, Look what the Fire Did with Bunbury Theatre, and Dracula with Actors Theatre of Louisville. They are currently developing a devised piece based on ancient stories of Phaedra. The piece explores gender and sexual identity. It developed from research supported by an NEH grant translation studies institute at Kent State University (2017). They were honored to be chosen as a member of the Hadley Creatives 2020 Generation with the Louisville Community Foundation and Creative Capital (NYC).

On campus, they collaborate with students and colleagues to create performance that sparks joy and challenges assumptions through embodied action. Their UofL intimacy work includes A Raisin in the Sun, Six Degrees of Separation, and Split Second. Dr. Calvano directs often at UofL past productions include The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Taming of the Shrew, and a version of Anna Cora Mowatt’s Fashion entitled [re]Fashion. They additionally directed a production Fires in the Mirror at UofL which was featured at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Region IV Festival in Spartanburg, SC in February of 2020.

Areas of performance and research that most interest them include centering female-identifying and gender-queer voices and perspectives, intimacy in performance, approaches to artist-centered wellness, and decolonizing period movement. Their scholarly work has been featured in such journals as The Journal of Dance Education, The Journal of Interdisciplinary Voice Studies, and the Theatre, Dance & Performance Training Journal. Additionally, their pedagogical research and development was featured in the anthology How to Teach a Play (Bloomsbury, 2020).

Before coming to UofL, Ari taught dance in Misawa, Japan, devised and adapted performance with Obscene/Courageous Theatre (Boulder/Denver, CO), and designed sound for the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company and Curious Theatre (Denver, CO). They earned their PhD in Theatre, with a dissertation focused on movement pedagogy, from the University of Colorado Boulder. They are also a registered yoga instructor with Yoga Alliance.

	Rachel Carter

Rachel Carter

Associate Professor of Acting, Voice, and Dialect

Phone: (502) 852-8446

Rachel explores the bridge between voice and movement pedagogy at UofL Theatre Arts where she teaches voice, speech, Alexander Technique, IPA, dialects, and text work. She also acts as dialect and voice coach on University productions. She earned her MFA in Theatre Pedagogy: Voice and Speech from the Virginia Commonwealth University, and has a teacher certification in the Alexander Technique from The American Society of the Alexander Technique (AmSAT). Rachel continues to coach individuals in dialects, character voices, and communication, and has had the opportunity to dialect coach multiple shows with Theatre [502] and Pandora Productions here in Louisville. Prior to joining the faculty at UofL, Rachel was in Chicago where she had the opportunity to work with a variety of schools and theaters, including Roosevelt University, School for Theatre Creators, ChiArts, and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. She is a current member of both VASTA and AmSAT.

Kevin Gawley

Kevin Gawley

Director of Undergraduate Studies, Associate Professor of Design, Resident Scenic, Lighting, and Projection Designer

Phone: (502) 852-8444

Kevin D. Gawley is the scenic, lighting and projection designer for University theatre productions and selected special events. He teaches students both theory and practical application in scenic, lighting, and projection design and technology. Students have the opportunity to fully engage in the design process for five University shows per year. Their experience includes working from design concept to construction, light hang and focus, texture and paint, and technical rehearsals. Students work alongside other designers, directors and technical director, to fully implement the production on stage. In addition, Kevin maintains an ambitious design career, staying relevant in the field and garnering national recognition. Most recently, Kevin’s professional work at Lifeline Theatre in Chicago was awarded the 2017 Non-Equity Jeff Award for A Wrinkle in Time for Lighting Design. His guest design of Rabbit Hole at Taylor University earned him the 2017 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival National Award in Lighting Design. In addition, Kevin’s lighting design for Champaign Urbana Ballet’s Nutcracker was showcased on the cover of the 2017 Rosebrand Catalog. Over the span of his career, recognized critical acclaim includes seven additional Non-Equity Jeff Award nominations and two additional Jeff Awards for The Island of Doctor Moreau and Jane Eyre, and the After Dark Award for Strong Poison. His film credits include theatrical lighting design for Were the World Mine. Previous theatrical design and assistant design collaborations include Magik Theatre, The Goodman, Court, American Girl Productions, Lexington Children’s Theatre, Lifeline, Bailiwick, Organic, Porchlight, OperaModa, Blindfaith, Theatre on the Lake, Metropolis, Revels Chicago, Midwest Jewish, North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, and Taylor University. For 8 years, he spent summers in residence as the lighting designer for eight productions and eight different directors at the National High School Institute at Northwestern University. Kevin works to engage the local community whenever possible to broaden the UofL theatre program exposure. Kevin’s national presence, both onstage designs and as an active member of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology provides technical and design students opportunities in their field. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Louisville, Kevin was Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire in Scenic and Lighting Design.

Zhanna Goldentul

Associate Professor (Term), Resident Costume and Makeup Designer

Phone: (502) 852-8579

Zhanna Goldentul is the Costume and Makeup Designer for the University of Louisville Theatre Arts department. She is a member of the United Scenic Artists' Union 829 Local CD. Goldentul teaches students in Costume and Makeup Design, Sewing, Costume Construction, and Pattern Making. Zhanna’s students assist her on Main Stage productions to learn a wide range of design skills. She takes great pride of her recent graduates who work in professional fields, Academy Award winning films and TV shows. Others run world tours for singers and performing artists and establish their own fashion companies. Before moving from Russia to the U.S., Zhanna Goldentul received her training in Costume Design and Technology from the Moscow Theatrical Arts College. After graduation she has worked in Russian Theaters, such as the Old Drama Theatre, Bolshoy Theater, the Moscow Contemporary Theatre, New Jewish Musical Group, and various Ballet Companies. Zhanna has earned her master’s degree at UofL and has designed costumes in Louisville at Stage One Family Theater, Louisville Ballet, Kentucky Opera, and The JCC Center Stage Theater. She also has design credits for various short film productions. Her recent design credits for UofL Theater Arts include: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Cage Rhythm, Metamorphoses, How I Learned to Drive, Once on This Island, King Lear, Afromemory, and many more. Goldentul also co-wrote the play adaptation of The Master and Margarita.

Costume Design, Sketching and Rendering, Pattern Making, Sewing, Costume Construction, and Stage Makeup.


LaShondra Hood

Assistant Professor (Term), Co-Director of the AATP, Director of Repertory Company

Phone: (502) 852-8526

LaShondra Hood is an actress, director, artivist, and arts educator from Birmingham, AL and is excited to be back at the University of Louisville! LaShondra earned her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts from Alabama State University and a Master of Fine Arts in Performance from the University of Louisville. She is currently a (term) Assistant Professor of Theatre in the Theatre Arts Department at University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky.

With over a decade of experience in performance and theatre arts, LaShondra has performed in dramas, musicals, dance concerts, staged readings, choir concerts, new play premieres, and play workshops. Her performance credits include Dr. Van Helsing in Dracula (Actors Theatre of Louisville), Ms. Sophia in Jamie Whatever (StageOne Family Theatre), Miss Sofia in The Color Purple the Musical, Rose in Fences (FaithWorksStudios), Harriet in The Stephen Foster Story (Stephan Foster Drama Association), Ensemble in Crowns, Miss Leah in Flyin’ West (Alabama State University), Camae in The Mountaintop, Captain Arthur Phillip in Our Country’s Good, Little Stone in Eurydice (University of Louisville), Wicked Witch in Dorothy in Oz, and Mrs. Claus in Mrs. Claus Saves the Day (Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati), among others. Some directing credits include Don’t Tell Me I Can’t FlyTrickster TalesShrek the Musical Jr.Seven Stops to FreedomL.O.L.BLMAnnie Jr., and Reframe.

In addition to performing and directing, LaShondra has worked as a teaching artist throughout the Jefferson County Public School System with StageOne Family Theatre, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, Kidsview Inc. and Commonwealth Theatre Center. LaShondra is the recipient of several achievement awards for performance from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and the Southeastern Theatre Conference. Including the Irene Ryan Acting First Place Partner Award, the Kennedy Center Kingsley Colton Best Partner Award, the Denise Halbach Performance Scholarship, and the Jane Alexandar Acting Scholarship Award. She is a member of Alpha Psi Omega National Theatre Honor Society, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and regularly participates in the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC). LaShondra loves educating and empowering students to reach their maximum potential; she believes that a student’s matriculation through academia and the world is not only a new experience it is another scene in a much larger production.


MFA in Performance, University of Louisville

BA in Theatre Arts, Alabama State University

Jennifer Pennington

Assistant Professor of Acting

Phone: (502) 852-8576

Jennifer Pennington is an Assistant Professor of Acting in the Department of Theatre Arts. She holds an MFA from the University of Tennessee’s International Actor Training Academy and a BFA from the University of Michigan. Jen just finished her 5th season onstage with the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival and directing Dracula at Actor’s Theatre of Louisville. She has worked as an actor, director and educator with companies all over the country including South Coast Repertory Theatre, P.S.Arts, EastLA Classic Theatre, Idyllwild Arts Academy, Michigan Theatre Festival, Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival, The Clarence Brown Theatre, Arizona Shakespeare Festival as well as several theatre companies in the Los Angeles area. Before joining the Department of Theatre Arts, Jen spent 8 years teaching aspiring youth actors at The Commonwealth Theatre Center where she was the Staff Sponsor for the Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Awareness Society. Pennington’s passion is to encourage connection, communication and inclusion through art.

Janna Segal

Janna Segal

Director of Graduate Studies, Associate Professor of Theatre History, Dramatic Literature, and Dramaturgy

Phone: (502) 852-8445
Email: janna.segal@louisville.edu

Dr. Janna Segal is the Director of Graduate Studies and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in theatre history, literature, and theory; Shakespeare and Shakespearean adaptation; American feminist theatre; and dramaturgy. She received her Ph.D. in Drama and Theatre from the UC Irvine/UC San Diego joint doctoral program; her MA in Theatre from California State University, Northridge; and her BA in Theater Arts from UC Santa Cruz. Prior to joining the UofL faculty, Dr. Segal was an Assistant Professor in the Theatre Department and in the MLitt/MFA Shakespeare and Performance program at Mary Baldwin College, and an IHUM Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University. She has also taught theatre history, literature and theory, Shakespeare, Chicanx theatre and film, and acting at UC Irvine, UC Riverside, and California State University, Northridge.

Dr. Segal has published single and co-authored works on Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Henry V, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, Taming of the Shrew, and Romeo and Juliet; Dekker and Middleton’s The Roaring Girl; Fo and Rame’s Elisabetta; Chekhov’s Three Sisters; and Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. Her scholarly work has appeared in such journals as Review: The Journal of Dramaturgy, SDC Journal, JEMCS, Shakespeare, and Early Modern Literary Studies, as well as in numerous anthologies, including Playing Shakespeare’s Monarchs and Madmen (Peter Lang, 2020), How to Teach a Play (Bloomsbury, 2020), Playing Shakespeare’s Villains (Peter Lang, 2019), and Performances at Court in Shakespeare’s Era (Cambridge UP, 2019).

Dr. Segal is also a playwright and dramaturg whose work includes Shakespeare, adaptations, TYA, contemporary theatre, and new plays in development. Her co-adaptation with Idris Goodwin of Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings premiered at the New York City Children’s Theatre in Spring 2022. Other recent adaptations include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Ball State University); Romeo and Juliet (Commonwealth Theatre Center); [Re]Fashion, co-adapted with Ari Calvano (UofL); and Taming of the Shrew, co-adapted with Ari Calvano (UofL). Recent Louisville-area dramaturgy credits include DragonSoul Offline, Reframe, The Right Shoes, and Monster of Mine for StageOne Family Theatre; and Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, and A Streetcar Named Desire for Commonwealth Theatre Center. She is the Resident Dramaturg of the Comparative Drama Conference (CDC), for which she dramaturgs two new plays a year, and a dramaturg for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education’s (ATHE) annual New Play Development Workshop. At UofL, she has dramaturged Baltimore, Eurydice, The Master and Margarita, The Taming of the Shrew, Fires in the Mirror, [Re]Fashion, Love Among the Ruins, Twelfth Night, and Blood at the Root. Dr. Segal is a member of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA), is the Conference Planner for Playwrights and Creative Teams (PACT) at ATHE, and she serves on the Board of the Comparative Drama Conference.

Shona Tucker

Department Chair, Professor

Phone: (502) 852-8444

SHONA TUCKER, is an actor, director, writer and educator. She loves to work in the hyphens. Fresh off her summer adapting her solo show Growing Wild into a limited miniseries at the prestigious Catwalk Artists Residency, Shona is currently a Full Professor and Chair of the University of Louisville (UofL) Theatre Arts Department. Prior to UofL, she served as the Mary Riepma Ross Chair and Full Professor of the Vassar College Drama Department for 14 years. As an actor, she has done two Broadway shows “Death of A Salesman” where she got to play Linda Loman (u/s) opposite Wendell Pierce and “To Kill A Mockingbird” (as ensemble) and got to play Calpurnia to Jeff Daniel’s Atticus. Recently she has worked on two films, The Hating Game and Linoleum, along with other smaller film and zoom projects with some uber talents in the industry, such as Peter Garrity, Uma Thurman, BD Wong, David Strathairn. As a writer, she has recently completed Mississippi Mud, a trilogy based on true stories of three African-American women who make majors move that change their families’ history. The second part of the trilogy, Growing Wild was part of the #HealMeToo Festival at the IRT theater in 2019. Ms. Tucker’s performance and directing credits include: Playwright’s Horizons, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Yale Repertory, Williamstown Theater Festival, Actors Theater of Louisville, and ACT-San Francisco. Her television/ film credits include: Lights Out, WALK THE FISH, Preaching to the Choir, New York Undercover, and Law and Order. She is a Usual Suspect with NYTW, Audelco Award winner, Fulbright Scholar. BS: Northwestern University and MFA: NYU/Tisch.

	Jerome Wills

Jerome Wills

Assistant Professor Term, Technology and Design

Phone: (859) 684-2623

Jerome is delighted to join the creative faculty, staff and students at the University of Louisville. He comes to UofL with 20 years of experience designing for live theatrical events in the disciplines of scenic, sound, lighting, projections and underscoring with over 250 credits across these fields. 

Jerome specializes in the Theatre for Young Audiences having been Resident Designer and Technical Director for The Children’s Theatre of Maine and Lexington Children’s Theatre as well as designing scenery for StageOne Family Theatre’s productions of The Glorious Adventures of Robin HoodPetite RougeAnd Then They Came For Me, and Harold and the Purple Crayon. His recent UofL credits include Scenic, Sound and Properties Design for Rep Co’s production of Zomo the Rabbit, Scenic and Sound Design for the African-American Theatre Program’s production of Detroit 67’  and Sound Design for King Hedley II.


Stephan Carpenter

Program Coordinator

Phone: 502-852-7682

Stephan is a recent UofL graduate with a BA in Film Studies and Production and a BSA in Theatre Arts. As a student at UofL, Stephan earned credits as a Sound Designer, Director, Videographer, Props Master, Assistant Production Manager, Dramaturg, and Technical Director. Outside of UofL he has earned various Props, Sound, and Lighting credits with the UnKnown Project, Pandora Productions, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, and several short films as well as the upcoming feature film: A Creature Was Stirring. He is very excited to be back at UofL as the Theatre Department's Program Coordinator.

headshot of Miranda Cisneros

Miranda Cisneros

Technical Production Manager, Shop Supervisor


Miranda Cisneros (she/her/hers) is a graduate from the University of Louisville. She earned her Bachelor's of Science in Theatre Arts in 2017. Since graduating, she has continued to work professionally at places like Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, PA, The Rev Theatre Company (formerly Merry-Go-Round Playhouse) in Auburn, NY, and Riverside Theatre in Vero Beach, FL. She is passionate about creating environments where people can learn, grow, and contribute their talents and skills to a collaborative and diverse team of professional theatre artists.

Jessica Key

Program Coordinator, Sr.

Phone: 502-852-5922

Jessica Key is a native of Danville, KY and currently resides in Frankfort, KY. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Communications with a minor in Music from Campbellsville University. She also earned her Master’s in Facility and Event Management from Western Kentucky University. Jessica has a passion for event coordinating, community outreach projects, volunteering and music.

Melissa Kenney Shepherd

Costume Shop Manager, Part-Time Faculty

Phone: 502-852-8441

Melissa Kenney Shepherd is a graduate of the UofL’s Theatre Arts Department.  She received an MFA in Performance in 2001.  Currently, Melissa is the Costume Shop Manager, part-time faculty, and costume designer for the traveling Repertory Company here at UofL.  Melissa always finds it rewarding to work in the costume shop daily with our undergraduate assistantship crew.  The team create all costumes for UofL’s Mainstage, Rep Company, and some touring show throughout the year.  Melissa overseas a UofL  Internship for undergraduate students in costumes in collaboration with Trinity High School each spring for their musical.  When not on campus, Shepherd works as a costume designer for local theatres; Stage One Children’s Theatre, Center Stage, The Chicken Coop Theatre, Pandora Productions, and Trinity HS.  Other professional costume design credits include work for Argosy Entertainment, The Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Melodrama Musical Theatre, Prather Entertainment and Trodger and Sons.  Melissa is an actor with Heyman Talent, where she gets to work on projects with her daughter Lilly and many UofL alumni students!

Part-Time Faculty

Lois Abdelmalek



Melony Caulder

Melony Caulder teaches online Enjoyment of Theatre classes. She received her B.A. in Speech and Theatre with a minor in Telecommunications from Fayetteville State University in May 2007, an M.F.A in Performance and Acting with a Certificate in African American Theatre from the University of Louisville in May 2010, and an M.Ed. in Adult and Continuing Education from Strayer University in June 2014. Melony has taught courses on a part-time basis in previous years at U of L and also at Kentucky State University.


Dara Tiller



Born and raised in Eastern Kentucky, Dara Tiller was born to be a storyteller. After studying Theatre at the University of Kentucky, she was part of the renowned Actors Theatre of Louisville Professional Training Company. Dara then worked in professional theatre and film in Chicago, New York and across the United States. She has been seen in numerous commercials, both regionally and nationally, and has many stage, film, and television credits. Recently, she played Jamie Bell's wife in the award-winning film, Donnybrook and can be seen in Midway to Love on The Hallmark Channel. She can also be seen in the new Tyler Childers music video for his hit song "In Your Love" (Creative Direction by Silas House and Jason Kyle Howard) and on stage in Dracula: A Feminist Revenge Fantasy at Actors Theatre of Louisville. She has also worked extensively on the other side of the camera and stage in production and casting. Learn more at darajadetiller.com

Emeritus Faculty

Garry Brown

Rinda Frye holds a Ph.D. in theatre from University of Oregon and is a member of VASTA (the Voice and Speech Trainers Association) and an associate editor for IDEA, the International Dialects of English Archive.

Bert Harris was the founding Chair of the Department of Theatre Arts and Speech at the University of Louisville. He founded the UofL Repertory Company in 1976, and served as its Artistic Director for thirty years.

Michael F. Hottois was the Production Designer for the UofL Theatre Department and has designed for most of the theatres in the area. He was a scenic artist in the films Boris and Natasha and Closetlandand Soul of the Game

Lundeana Thomas
Dr. Lundeana M. Thomas, a University of Louisville Faculty Emeritus, and Full Professor earned her Ph. D. and Master’s from the University of Michigan and is the author of Barbara Ann Teer and the National Black Theatre: Transformational Forces in Harlem. Dr. Thomas became a Co-Director of the African American Theatre Program in 1996 and became Director in 2003. Major Accomplishments include: 1) recruiting many African American students; 2) securing minimum enrollments in all AATP classes; 3) securing a local, national, and international reputation for the program (Major trip to China in 2007); 4) securing finances for the program, including a Ford Foundation Grant in 2004; 5) securing high profile Practitioners and Academicians of theatre for students including Broadway Director, Kenny Leon; Carson-Adler Agent, Shirley Faison; Broadway Directors, Paul Carter Harrison and Clinton Turner Davis; Broadway Scenic Designer, Felix Cochren; and 6) created many standing courses and oversaw the Archives of the AATP. Additionally, Dr. Thomas was a founder and President of the Black Theatre Network a well as founder mof the

Thomas has also presented papers in Ghana, Australia, China and Spain, and performed at the Grahamstown Festival in South Africa with U of L students. She has directed over 75 productions including a 13thC. Chinese play adapted to a Hip Hop Play that has been presented at the National Black Theatre Festival and Singapore. Since retirement Dr. Thomas has directed Mason-Dixon and Harriet Tubman Visits a Therapist by Carolyn Gage for the The Victorian Players of Youngstown, Ohio; The Ballad of Emmett Till at New Heritage Theatre in Pittsburgh, Flyin’ West at the North Georgia State University and wrote and directed a Dinner Mystery Theatre for the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority in Youngstown.

James Tompkins

Russ Vandebrouke

Vandenbroucke earned his Doctor of Fine Arts from the Yale School of Drama and has worked as a director, dramaturg, playwright, and producer at regional theatres across the country including the Yale Repertory Theatre, Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Virginia Stage Company, and Chicago’s Northlight Theatre, which he served as artistic director for eleven seasons.

His plays include: Soldiers Circle, which dramatizes the lives of young American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan; Eleanor: In Her Own Words, adapted from the writings of Eleanor Roosevelt, recipient of an Emmy Award and broadcast on “American Playhouse” series of PBS; Atomic Bombers, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of Hiroshima, also on public radio; and School Play, inspired by the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. The Board of Education decision ending school desegregation, performed in Moscow and Perm, Russia, after touring Louisville. In addition to numerous articles, interviews, and op-ed pieces, he has published three books: Truths the Hand Can Touch: The Theatre of Athol Fugard (Theatre Communications Group), The Theatre Quotation Book: A Treasury of Insights and Insults (Limelight Editions), and Contemporary Australian Plays (Methuen), an anthology of plays. He teaches courses in script analysis, applied theatre, the enjoyment of theatre, and playwriting. He is Founding Director of the university’s Peace, Justice & Conflict Transformation Program.

Internationally, Vandenbroucke: was a Fulbright Scholar in Australia; a Rotary Foundation World Peace Fellow in Thailand where he adapted and directed An Evening with Global Peacemakers; covered Italy’s Spoleto Festival and the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa, for American Theatre magazine; delivered talks and presentations in Finland, Romania, and (then) East Germany for the State Department; traveled to Israel and Palestine through the Palestine American Research Center); and gave a series of talks on engaged art, American culture, and critical thinking in Vietnam and Japan, where he also made pilgrimages to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

He has directed dozens of plays at professional theatres around the country and at UofL, and he is a retired member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

Studio Theatre Company

Studio Theatre's Misson

Studio Theater Company is an RSO that strives to give students the opportunity to create and perform plays in an encouraging and supporting environment and to create an open, diverse environment where any student at the university interested in any of the many aspects of theatre can come together and organize events entirely on their own.

Studio Theater Company operates through the University of Louisville and focuses on providing theatre experience to actors, directors, producers, and technicians in our community.

Our mission is to provide University of Louisville students with an outlet that allows them to explore their creative energies in a performance setting. Through production of performance art we hope to provide every willing student with the opportunity to work on, participate in, and enjoy the theatrical process. Studio Theatre has and will always provide this service free to the public, making the arts accessible to all.

If you’d like to receive updates from Studio Theater Company, like our Facebook page.  If you’d like to get involved in Studio Theater Company please contact us via email at .

Theatre Arts Academics at UofL

Three students performing on stage

As part of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Theatre Arts is committed to a liberal arts education for our undergraduate students and professional training for graduate students.  The ancient art of theatre is most fully understood and exists at its deepest form of expression through the creation of performances shared with an audience.  Doing so demands a deep array of knowledge and skill combined with a professional attitude and work ethic that can serve students throughout their lives in whatever profession they pursue.

Making theatre requires a great deal more than talent and desire, including:

  • Self-discipline
  • Collaboration, often with strangers
  • Acceptance that the needs of the whole are more important than those of any individual
  • Self-awareness
  • Critical thinking
  • Comprehending many kinds of scripts to grasp both their surface and the subtle domain of subtext
  • Empathizing with strangers including characters whose point of view, beliefs, mindset, religion, politics, behavior, and attitudes may be vastly different from one’s own
  • Embracing the past, present, and future—wherever a production takes us and the audience
  • Meeting deadlines that are often shorter than ideal
  • Working within budgets that are always less than desired
  • Communicating fearlessly, often to strangers, on a naked stage about matters so crucial that the life, or death, of a character hangs in the balance
  • Joy in creating work that turns ideas, imagination, words, cloth, lumber, sound, and silence into magic that is beheld by everyone whether friend or stranger.  When we are passionate about our work—and making theatre demands such passion every day—it does not seem like work at all.

We believe that these complex goals, abilities, and attitudes should be evident daily in our classrooms and our rehearsal rooms.

Students who internalize this way of thinking and working are prepared extraordinarily well for any of their future goals.

Statement on Black Lives Matter, racial equity, and justice for all

First, an apology. We know this statement comes too late. We apologize for not being at the forefront of this important discussion. Faculty, staff, and administrators of the African American Theatre Program and Department of Theatre Arts hold ourselves accountable for any harm that we have caused. We will strive to do better.

The Department of Theatre Arts and the African American Theatre Program support Black Lives Matter and other groups and communities engaging in protests in Louisville and beyond. While we cannot all deeply understand the pain that the African American community has been suffering over the past 400 years in the United States, we hear you, we see you, and we stand with you. Racial violence and injustice are products of racism perpetuated in our society. Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and David McAtee’s deaths further confirm that racism frustrates, angers, and deeply hurts us and others affected by these acts of police brutality and systemic oppression. The Department of Theatre Arts and the African American Theatre Program stand in solidarity with students, artists, scholars and members of the Black community and their allies and organizations working toward racial equity and justice. 

Our mission is “Art in Action”: theatre that is engaged and inclusive, rigorous and enjoyable, thoughtful and transformative. Our mission must be enacted. To that end, we will continue to elevate the voices of black playwrights, performers, and theatre makers while creating work that challenges systemic bias. 

We will also critically engage in dialogue and action in the following ways: 

  • We reassert our pledge to annually produce two African American Theatre Program shows in our 2020-21 and future Mainstage seasons, and to annually produce the MLK Day celebration.
  • We will continue to engage in inclusivity and anti-racism training. 
  • We recommit to increasing the diversity of the Theatre Arts faculty, staff, and students.
  • We renew our support of our students, dedication to uplifting student voices of protest, and commitment to advocating for a student platform on our Department stages and in the community. 
  • We reaffirm our commitment to community engagement and partnerships.
  • We will work to foster a brave space for our students and audiences to safely create, collaborate, and challenge authoritative systems.

In solidarity,

The Department of Theatre Arts 

The African American Theatre Program

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