Fac Chats

Info and suggested readings for the Intercultural Center and the Library's "Fac Chats" series

Talk Description

On October 30, Deanna Zibello, Associate Professor of Performing Arts, and Amissa Miller, Assistant Professor of Performing Arts, will chat about "From Page to Stage: The Making of This Is Modern Art at SMC."

Director Amissa Miller and designer Deanna Zibello discuss their collaborative approach to working with students and each other in the creation of this fall's mainstage Theatre production, THIS IS MODERN ART by Idris Goodwin and Kevin Coval. The play is inspired by a real-life incident in which a graffiti crew painted “pieces” on the exterior wall of the Renzo Piano-designed Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2010. The artists labeled their work with the provocation that gives the play its title. Miller and Zibello will discuss collaborating with students, the creation of a theatre event on the SMC campus that centers the experiences of young men of color, visual approaches to the theme of "insider/outsider" status, and collaborations with artists and community organizations to create inclusive artistic programming at SMC.

Suggested Resources

Interview with This is Modern Art co-playwright Idris Goodwin

Speaker Bios

Deanna L. Zibello is an Associate Professor and head of the Design and Technical Theatre track of the Theatre Program at Saint Mary’s College of CA. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Williams College and an MFA in Scenic Design from the University of Washington School of Drama. Previously, she taught at Gonzaga University. Deanna is also an award-winning scenic designer, having been recognized with Theatre Puget Sound’s Gregory Award for Outstanding Scenic Design in 2012 for her work on Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train with Seattle-based company Azeotrope. She was awarded a Gypsy Rose Lee award in 2013 by the Seattle Theatre Writers for her work on Gruesome Playground Injuries, also with Azeotrope. The American College Theatre Festival has recognized her work on …and Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi and In the Heights with Meritorious Achievement awards. Other favorite productions include Cabaret at Saint Mary’s College; Arcadia with Shotgun Players (Berkeley); The Shipment, Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them and the World Premiere of Mechanics of Love, all with Crowded Fire Theatre (San Francisco); Cancer: the Musical with Washington Ensemble Theater (Seattle); MilkMilkLemonade with Impact Theatre (Berkeley); Artifacts of Consequence with the Satori Group (Seattle); The Legend of Georgia McBride with Town Hall Theatre (Lafayette); Big Love with the University of Washington School of Drama; the opera Eugene Onegin with the University of Washington Schools of Music and Drama; and Middle-Aged White Guys with Open Eye Productions (Chicago), for which she was awarded Gay Chicago Magazine’s After Dark Award for Outstanding Scenic Design in 2005. Deanna lives in Lafayette, CA with her husband and their young son.

Amissa Miller is a dramaturg, writer, and educator with a background in new play dramaturgy, playwriting, and community-based arts education. Her work as a dramaturg includes workshops and productions at companies like Crowded Fire Theater, The Huntington Theatre Company, The Women's Project, Ars Nova, and The Movement Theatre Company. As a writer, her work includes the short screenplay The Big Chop, a finalist at the 2014 Black Star Film Festival, and the short play Breaths, which is featured in the 2019 Playwrights' Center of San Francisco Best Plays of 2019 showcase. Her play Her Own Things was recently published in the Fall 2019 African Voices Magazine tribute issue honoring Ntozake Shange. Amissa has worked as a teaching artist in various youth and community spaces, with organizations including Opening Act New York, The Maysles Institute, Wide Angle Youth Media, and ArtsEmerson. She has taught courses in dramatic literature, theatre history, applied theatre, and community engagement at New York University, Emerson College, and The University of Texas at Austin. Her interests include Black Diasporic theatre, theatre for social justice, theatre with and for young people, audience studies, and new play development. Outside of her work in theatre, Amissa serves as a crisis counselor and advocate with San Francisco Women Against Rape. Amissa holds a BA in Drama from Spelman College and an MFA in Dramaturgy and Script Development from Columbia University. 

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