2/11/15: Susan Russell

pianosusanrussell006_Susan Russell, Associate Professor of Theatre at Penn State; 2014-15 Penn State Laureate

Topic: Making Change Make Sense

Location: President’s Hall, The Penn Stater

Introduction / Moderator: Nicholas Jones / Patty Satalia

Susan Russell is an Associate Professor in the School of Theatre at The Pennsylvania State University in State College, PA, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate classes in literature/criticism, Playwriting, Feminist Theatre, and Musical Theatre History. In 2007 she graduated summa cum laude from the MA/PhD in Theatre Studies at Florida State University, and she received her BA in Theatre from St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, NC in 1979. Between her education pursuits, she experienced a twenty-five year career as a professional actor on and off-Broadway as well as a career in regional theatre and opera companies across the country. While performing for five years in Phantom of the Opera, she was an artist/teacher for New York Offstage where she created, developed, and implemented workshops in musical theatre performance and acting for high-school and university students. Her plays Olympia (1998) and Present Perfect (1999) have been produced by Emerging Artists Theatre and Lincoln Center, Severe Clear was a semi-finalist in the 2006 O’Neill Theatre Center Playwriting Competition, and Ecoute: Pieces of Reynaldo Hahn completed a 40 city national tour in spring of 2010. At Penn State, Russell is the creator and Artistic Director of Cultural Conversations, the only university festival of its kind in the country. Cultural Conversations uses theatre, music, dance, and visual art to foster and promote dialogues about diversity, and the core programming of the festival is an in-school program called Body Language. A landmark program that has been utilized locally, nationally, and internationally, Body Language offers storytelling, playwriting, and performance as a way for young people to talk about the social issues that define young people in the twenty first century. She has written two books on Body Language, BODY LANGUAGE: REACHING OUT BY REACHING IN, and BODY LANGUAGE: STOP THE VIOLENCE, START THE CONVERSATIONS and these books are donated to any school or civic organization interested in empowering communities through civic dialogues. As a speaker, Russell has brought conversations about women’s leadership, creativity, storytelling, and education to local, national, and international audiences, and for her work with women’s leadership, Russell was awarded The Penn State Commission for Women’s Faculty Award in 2012, for her work with middle and high school students, she was selected for the 2013 Faces of Penn State campaign, and in 2014 Russell was appointed Penn State Laureate for 2014-2015. You can visit her website at www.culturalconversations.psu.edu