Shakespeare & Performance
Paul Menzer is a professor and the director of the Mary Baldwin University MLitt/MFA Shakespeare and Performance graduate program and Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. He is the editor of Inside Shakespeare: Essays on the Blackfriars Stage (2006), Romeo and Juliet (2017), and Doctor Faustus (2018). He is author of The Hamlets: Cues, Q’s, and Remembered Texts (2008), Anecdotal Shakespeare: a New Performance History (2015), Shakespeare in the Theatre: The American Shakespeare Center (2016) and of dozens of articles, essays, reviews, and chapters on theatre history, textual criticism, and performance studies. He is past President of the Marlowe Society of America and the founding co-editor of The Hare, an online journal of brief essays and untimely reviews. He also serves on the Editorial Board of Shakespeare Quarterly. He is also a practicing playwright and his plays Anonymous, The Brats of Clarence, Shakespeare on Ice, Invisible Inc., and Robin Hood is Dead have appeared on the Blackfriars stage and elsewhere. He has two forthcoming books, The Brief Life of William Shakespeare and Shakespeare’s Enemies.
Doreen Bechtol is the Master of Fine Arts Company Manager and Director of Training for the Shakespeare and Performance program at Mary Baldwin University. As a physical trainer, her approach blends several modes of training, such as: Suzuki and Viewpoints, acrobatics, dance, yoga, and basic calisthenics. As the director of the MFA Company’s devised show, she developed her brand of ensemble-based work for creating collaborative performance through years of training with the SITI Company and with Joseph Chaikin, the founder of the Open Theater. She has directed and performed in over fifteen original devised performances, and she also wrote, directed, and edited a silent film based on The Winter’s Tale called For This Time We Pardon. She is a co-founding member of the Performers Exchange Project, a company dedicated to the creation of new and original work. She worked at the American Shakespeare Center (ASC) for over ten years both as a performer and choreographer in the Resident Troupe at the Blackfriars Playhouse, and most recently she directed, Antigone, for the Touring Troupe, which is the first Greek play produced by the ASC. As the Director of Youth Programs and College Prep for the ASC from 2006-11, she ran an internationally recognized Shakespeare theatre camp for teens. While at the ASC she also developed educational outreach programs, and led workshops examining the dynamic use of architecture in Shakespeare’s plays on the early modern stage. She remains the only actor at the ASC ever to have used the fly system when she entered from what is known as “the heavens” on a circus hoop as Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She received her MFA from Mary Baldwin University’s Shakespeare and Performance program, and her BFA in Theatre and Education at Western Michigan University. She is a member of ATHE, SDC, and SETC.
Ralph Alan Cohen
Ralph Alan Cohen is Co-Founder and Director of Mission at the American Shakespeare Center and Gonder Professor of Shakespeare and Performance and founder of the Master of Letters and Fine Arts program at Mary Baldwin University. He was project director for the building of the Blackfriars Playhouse — a recreation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre — in Staunton Virginia. He has directed 30 productions of plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries, including America’s first professional production of Francis Beaumont’s The Knight of the Burning Pestle. He also directed the first revival of Thomas Middleton’s Your Five Gallants and co-edited the play for Oxford University Press’s Collected Works of Thomas Middleton. He is the author of ShakesFear and How to Cure It: A Handbook for Teaching Shakespeare. He twice edited special teaching issues of the Shakespeare Quarterly and has published articles on teaching Shakespeare as well as on Shakespeare, Jonson, and Elizabethan staging. He founded the Studies Abroad program at James Madison University, where he won Virginia’s award for outstanding faculty. He has frequently directed summer institutes on Shakespeare and staging sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2001 he established the Blackfriars Conference, a bi-annual week-long celebration of early modern drama in performance. In 2008, Cohen and ASC co-founder Jim Warren earned the Commonwealth Governor’s Arts Award. In 2009 he was the Theo Crosby Fellow at Shakespeare’s Globe in London. He earned his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College and his doctorate at Duke University and has honorary degrees from St. Lawrence University and Georgetown University.
Kerry Cooke earned her B.A. from the University of Nevada, Reno, and her M.A. and PhD from The Shakespeare Institute in Stratford upon Avon (UK). She is an assistant professor at Mary Baldwin University where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on Shakespeare and drama. Her research interests can be organized into two categories. She focuses on the materiality of literature in early modern England, using bibliographical principles to understand non-dramatic forms of writing such as epistolary theory and correspondence. This work coalesces in her monograph project, An Epistolary Democracy, to be completed next year. She has published shorter essays on epistolarity, like “Addressing the Address: Shakespeare and Early Modern Epistolary Theory” inJournal for Early Modern Studies. Parallel to this, and as a faculty member interested in Mary Baldwin’s history as a college for women, she researches and writes on issues of gender and class in both pedagogy and drama. This work has been published recently in the journal Early Modern Culture.
Matt Davies is an Assistant Professor in the MLitt/MFA Shakespeare and Performance program at Mary Baldwin and a professional actor and director of twenty years standing in the UK and the US. An associate director of renowned Shakespeare company Actors From The London Stage, Matt has been touring the States since 1999. He began his graduate studies at UT Austin in 2004 and defended his Ph.D dissertation in the summer of 2012. Earning three fellowships and a graduate teaching award while at UT, Matt also continued working professionally in the city’s vibrant theater community. Alongside UK national acting awards for two new works, Our Boys and Misconceptions, Matt has received numerous B. Iden Payne and Critics Circle awards and nominations for his classical work for Texas theater companies Austin Shakespeare, Hidden Room, and the Chekhov-based Breaking String, of which he is a founding member. Matt has directed both the classics and new works in London, Glasgow, Houston, and Austin.
John Paul "JP" Scheidler
John Paul Scheidler teaches movement and stage combat classes in both the MLitt and MFA programs. John Paul is a professional actor, fight choreographer and director with membership in Actor’s Equity Assoc. and is a certified teacher with the Society of American Fight Directors. He has worked professionally with Heritage Rep. Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, The Blackfrairs Playhouse, NYC Opera and was a company member with Wellspring/Cori Terry and Dancers for 3 years. Education includes an MFA from the University of Virginia, Hap Ki Do, and a BA in Drama and Dance from Western Michigan University.
Molly Seremet is a theatrical magpie and happily identifies as a director, devised theatremaker, costume designer, dramaturg, and scholar in equal measure. She holds an M.Res with Distinction in Performance and Creative Research from London’s University of Roehampton as well as an M.Litt/MFA in Shakespeare and Performance from Mary Baldwin University. While a graduate student at MBU, Molly became the first ever two-time winner of the Andrew Gurr Award for Outstanding Thesis. In her scholarly work and creative practice, Molly collides posthumanism and object-oriented feminism(s) with performative interventions into Shakespeare. She recently served as Assistant Director for Antigone for the American Shakespeare Center’s 2018-2019 Hand of Time National Tour, in collaboration with Doreen Bechtol. Other favorite directing and devising credits include Der Wal: A Moby Dick Kabarette (Coney Island Sideshows by the Seashore), Troilus and Cressida (Compass Shakespeare Ensemble), Machinal (Mary Baldwin University), and My Name is Rachel Corrie (NYC’s Kraine Theatre). Her award-winning devised piece Martin’s (words lost) has toured internationally to Battersea Arts Center, London Festival Fringe, Salzburg’s Szene Festival, and Stockholm’s STOFF Fest. Molly spent nearly a decade working in New York City as an actor/educator with the American Museum of Natural History, developing and performing eight different science-themed shows under the umbrella of Dr. Nebula’s Laboratory. She has previously taught for James Madison University (Harrisonburg, VA) and College of Saint Mary (Omaha, NE). Her scholarly work has been published in Shakespeare Bulletin, Early Modern Culture, Platform Journal of Performance, and Stimulus:Respond and is also forthcoming in several edited collections. Molly trained with the Atlantic Theatre Company’s acting school and is a proud member of Actors’ Equity.