Melissa Owens

Associate Professor of Theatre, Chair Department of Theatre & Dance

As the current Chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance, Professor Owens leads the programmatic planning for Theatre, Musical Theatre, and Dance, as well as for Theatre Converse and Dance Converse. She works to build a strong connection between the current students of Converse and the Upstate artistic community and alumnae network. Professor Owens came to Converse in 2012 and serves as an Associate Professor of Theatre, teaching Acting Fundamentals, Audition Technique, Michael Chekhov Acting Technique, Introduction to Theatre, Acting the Song, Musical Theatre Workshop, Costume Design, Basic Sewing, Voice and Diction, and Performance Studies. She has led multiple study-travel Theatre courses to England and Ireland, and was part of the International College Theatre Festival at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Professor Owens has worked professionally for over thirty years as an actor, director, and designer, and since 1993 has been a proud member of Equity/AEA, ​the American labor union representing the world of live theatrical performance​. Representative career acting roles include Lizzie in the award-winning ​Haywire​ at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Anne Collier in ​The 1940s Radio Hour​ at the Hilton Head Playhouse, Lina Lamont in ​Singin’ in the Rain​ at Missouri’s Arrow Rock Lyceum, Elizabeth in ​The Crucible​ at Kent State, Mrs. Anna in ​The King and I​ for Germany’s Frankfurt Theatre, Marmee in ​Little Women, the Musical​ here at Converse, the Nurse in ​Romeo and Juliet at Great Lakes Theater as an emergency understudy, and Marguerite in ​The Scarlet Pimpernel​ at Virginia’s Barter Theater where she spent 5 years as a resident company member actor and designer.

Professor Owens’ recent Converse directing credits include the dance concert ​Charting the Future​ celebrating the 50th anniversary of Black students at Converse, the musicals ​Little Women​, ​Urinetown​, and an all-female ​1776, ​as well as the musical theatre reviews ​To Dream, To Fight, ​and ​To Be. ​Non-musical directing credits include ​Dancing at Lughnasa, The Dragon, Thom Pain (based on nothing), The Tempest, Shiloh Rules,​ and ​A Part Equal: Women and Mr. Shakespeare​; she has also designed and/or built the costumes for over 40 Converse productions.

Known for her passion for developing the individual artist’s voice while joyfully collaborating in an inclusive and creative ensemble, Professor Owens embraces both a visionary and a practical methodology, and has a proven standard of academic and professional excellence. An award-winning teacher and theatre artist, she received a Faculty Development Summer Research Grant to study ​“Michael Chekhov and Yoga: the impact of Yoga Practice and Philosophy on the early development of Michael Chekhov, and a modern reintegration of relevant Yogic principles in current Chekhovian studio process”​ at the Du Prey Archives, University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada. She is also the 2019 recipient of two Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) Awards, for both Excellence in Directing, and Excellence in Playwriting (for her new adaptation) for Theatre Converse’s production of Lady Gregory’s ​The Dragon. ​Professor Owens is consistently awarded grants to present workshops and panels at prestigious state, national, and international theatre conferences such as the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), the Michael Chekhov Association (MICHA), the South Carolina Theatre Association (SCTA) and the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC). She also teaches annually with the Great Lakes Michael Chekhov Consortium (GLMCC), and has published an Acting exercise in Mark Monday’s text ​Directing: Michael Chekhov Technique.​ She continues to work regularly as a student of the Michael Chekhov technique with peers and colleagues from around the world, most recently with Michael Chekhov Canada (MCC), the Chekhov Studio Chicago, and Chekhov Training and Performance Ireland (CTPI).

Professor Owens received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature with a Concentration in Drama from LeMoyne College, her Associate of Applied Science degree in Clothing Design and Construction from Seattle Central, her Master of Arts degree in Theatre from Miami University, and her Master of Fine Arts in Theatre: Performance from Kent State University.

“I’m excited to share with you the transformative work of Michael Chekhov, whose technique teaches theatre practitioners to ‘find the way from the Imaginative to the actual’.” – Professor Melissa Owens

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