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Michael Birtwistle

Stanley King '03 Professor of Dramatic Arts (Theater and Dance), Emeritus

Michael Birtwistle (Stanley King 1903 Professor of Dramatic Arts, Emeritus) has directed 90 theater productions in a wide variety of academic and professional theaters, specializing in the modern repertory and contemporary versions of classic plays. Lately, working in collaboration with Constance Congdon, he has been directing fully-staged productions of new plays by Amherst College student playwrights. In 2009, his production of Holger Teschke’s one-woman musical Lenya was invited to the New York Fringe Festival.  At Amherst, he teaches classes in directing, performance history and dramatic literature (with a special interest in mid-20th century American Theater). Prior to coming to Amherst in 1984, he organized and chaired the Pomona College Theater Department for the Claremont Colleges. In the 1970s, he administered local, regional and international performance programs for Grand Valley State University where he also founded Grand Rapids Stage 3, a combined college and community (later professional) theater that brought serious theater at low prices to a wide audience. In the 1960s, he taught at Kenyon College and Case Western Reserve University, where he led the Cleveland Chance Theater, a collective that explored how experimental theater could add to the politics of social change. He has been a guest director, a theater critic and editor, served on the advisory boards of national theater programs, and regularly serves as a consultant for liberal arts college theater programs. He holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University and the M.F.A. and PhD. from Tulane.