The Theater Department recently welcomed Visiting Assistant Professor of Theater Alex Keegan to teach classes on directing, as Assistant Professor of the Practice in Theater Eddie Torres is on leave for the Spring 2023 semester.
A director for almost thirteen years, Keegan’s focus is on both new play development and directing adaptations and devised pieces. At Wesleyan, Keegan will work with students in “Advanced II” (THEA381) and “The Actor’s Experience” (THEA183).
“I’m so excited to have the opportunity to teach at Wesleyan,” Keegan said. “I love the idea of directing in a liberal arts program where students are able to take studio arts courses while also being able to engage in a whole broad range of other programs across the University, which enriches their approach to theater.”
Keegan values Wesleyan’s emphasis on collaboration and care in the arts, as well as the prevalence of student exploration into alternative modes of theater.
“Wesleyan seems like such an ideal environment because so many folks are so creative, as well as analytical,” Keegan said. “They are willing to take big risks in student theater.”
As an artist, Keegan is especially drawn to performances with high theatricality and spectacle, as well as intensive movement and choreography. Her main goal, however, is trying to look at questions that impact art and society today.
“I often work on queer stories that highlight folks from the LGBTQ community in various forms,” Keegan said. “I’ve also spent a lot of my time, especially in the context of devised work and adaptations, looking at questions of how theater can be a place, tool, or landscape to explore mental illness through stage and design and storytelling.”
Through conversations with Wesleyan students about their interests in and out of theater, Keegan found a lot of overlap between her own interests and personal experiences and those of the student body. As part of her instruction, Keegan likes to emphasize the power of theater in giving a voice to these specific experiences and representations.
“Theater can be a place to foster empathy…so we can express those voices onstage,” Keegan said.
For aspiring directors or those who wish to have a career in theater, Keegan recommends reading many, many plays in order to figure out what artistically excites them. Those stories, she explained, are ones you will keep on going back to for inspiration. All in all, working with writers, designers, and friends with ideas ranging from scrappy, fun projects to large-scale productions is the most rewarding part of the career, according to Keegan.
“Just getting to be in the room and collaborating with folks gives me an opportunity to work with a whole bunch of artists from the ground up,” Keegan said. “Working with others fosters different approaches to why we make theater and how we make theater.”
The Theater Department is looking forward to an exciting upcoming season, with the large-scale spring mainstage production “Ocean Filibuster” scheduled for performances from Friday, May 5, through Monday, May 8. Multiple senior projects—including “Top Girls,” “The Long Rain,” and “Crush! Crush! Crush!”—are also slated to be performed or exhibited toward the end of the semester.
As the department grows, Chair and Associate Professor of Theater Marcela Oteíza hopes for an increase in resources directed to student theater-makers.
“In the future, the department would like to see more dedicated spaces for theater at the University, such as classrooms [and] rehearsal and performance spaces, to be able to properly support student projects and senior capstones,” Oteíza wrote in an email to The Argus. “We are working with the University to achieve this in order to be able to keep growing.”
Carolyn Neugarten can be reached at email@example.com.