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Department of Theatre Faculty

Click on any faculty member's name to see a list of achievements.

Dr. Elissa Sartwell (2014), Associate Professor and Theatre Chair
B.A. George Fox University
M.A.T. George Fox University
Ph.D. Louisiana State University

Dr. Elissa Sartwell is a theatre historian, dramaturg, and director. Her research explores the ways in which history is written and codified through performance. Sartwell's specific research focus is the performance of ethnicity on the 19th-century American stage. She has presented papers and articles at the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, Mid-American Theatre Conference, and the Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies Conference.

While a student at Louisiana State University, Sartwell was a resident dramaturg at Swine Palace, Louisiana's premier professional theatre, where she worked with directors John Dennis, Leon Ingulsrud, and Jane Drake Brody. She has been recognized by the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for costume design and for ensemble devising. In addition to serving as a production respondent and directing mentor, she served as an Irene Ryan judge at KCACTF, Region V from 2011-2013. Previously, Dr. Sartwell was the Director of Theatre at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri.

Dr. Sartwell teaches courses in theatre history, dramatic literature, script analysis, dramaturgy, and acting.

Dr. Sartwell is happiest when she is in the mountains. She also enjoys reading novels and visiting museums. If she were not a theatre professor, she would like to work in an enormous archive of historic artifacts. Or she would be a professional dog-walker.

Rebekah Bert, Specialty Instructor of Technical Theatre

Rebekah Bert (2010) Specialty Instructor of Technical Theatre
B.A., Grove City College
M.A., Binghamton University

Rebekah Bert went to Grove City Collage in Pennsylvania for her Bachelors in Music and Business and a Minor in Theatre, and received her Masters in Technical Theatre from the State University of NY in Binghamton, NY. She started working at Belhaven University as the Technical Director in the fall of 2010.

Rebekah has been a guest designer for Noises Off for SUNY Binghamton, drop design and build for Ballet Magnificant's show of The Snow Queen, and several shows for Millsaps College Theatre department.
Working for Belhaven University has provided her with unique opportunities to problem solve and be creative in the build and production of many different types of theatrical productions. Rebekah looks forward to many more years of creative collaboration for the Belhaven University theatre department.

Mr. Kris DietrichKris Dietrich (2005) Associate Professor of Theatre and Scenic Designer
B.F.A. University of Lethbridge, Canada
M.F.A. University of Missouri- Kansas City

Kris Dietrich received his theatre training at the University of Missouri at Kansas City under the instruction of John Ezell. During his time there he had the opportunity to interact with and work along side some of the best theatre professionals in the industry. Their influence and teaching fostered an environment where he could not only grow in his craft, but develop into a theatre professional who values hard work, supreme effort, and constructive collaboration.

Kris enjoys all aspects of design and has been fortunate to have worked in theatre for the past 18 years. During that time he has been a part of over 80 productions, many of which he was a principle designer for some aspect of the production. He enjoys finding visual solutions in a quest to tell great stories worthy of an audience. He also enjoys teaching and mentoring his students, always working to build them up into the type of artists that he would want to collaborate with as a colleague.

On a personal note, he is a father to 4 fantastic boys who are an endless source of energy and entertainment, and a man who is lucky to have married his best friend.

Becky Freeman

Becky Freeman - Assistant Professor of Theatre Costuming and Production
B.S., University of Alabama
M.F.A., University of Alabama

Becky begain her costuming career as a back stage mom volunteering with local community theatre.
Originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan, Becky has been a southern transplant for many years.
While earning a BFA in Clothing and Textile Design from the University of Alabama, Becky
became acting costume shop manager in 1989. This contract assignment inspired her to utilize her
fashion skills in the area of Theatre as a costumer. For twelve years She was the costume shop manager
at the University of Alabama where in 2011 she earned an MFA in costume design and technology.
Earning this degree has led her here to Belhaven where she can teach and mentor students as they find God's calling in their lives.
Design credits include:
Children's Theatre of Tuscaloosa, Theatre Tuscaloosa, The Rude Mechanicals, Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre, Actor's Charitable Theatre, Training Better Actors, U of A Black Box Theatre and Montana
Shakespeare in the Parks.

Joseph Frost (2004) Associate Professor of Theatre
Joseph FrostB.A. Malone College
M.A., M.F.A., Regent University

Joseph Frost is a playwright, actor and director living in Jackson, Mississippi, with his wife, Shannon and their children, Nina, Darby and Emory and Beau. He earned an MFA in Script and Screenwriting and an MA in Theatre Acting/ Directing from Regent University. Joseph's short plays have been featured around the country on university stages at Malone, Regent, Spring Arbor, Belhaven, and at Gizhou University in China. His bio-play van Gogh was produced at an exhibit of the artist's work at the Chrysler Museum of Art, and his work The Memory Trilogy has been given readings (whole or in part) in VA, MS, NC, and New York City and produced by Belhaven. Joseph's play Oz was developed into the independent feature film Before We Close, and he has penned several short films, including the Cine Award winning The Heart of Saturday Night. Joseph's farce comedy The Mayfair Affair premiered at Belhaven in 2012, and he is developing its follow-up Mayfair, Ma Chére for premiere in 2015. He's written a cycle of short plays, The Long Surrender, inspired by the music of Over the Rhine, and has twice completed the 31 Plays in 31 Days project (a short play each day for the month of August). As an actor, Joseph has performed on stage in over 50 productions, including comedies (Scapino!, Fools, Jake's Women), dramas (Betrayal, All My Sons, Tuesdays with Morrie, The Crucible, Dinner with Friends), contemporary (Dead Man's Cell Phone, The Bald Soprano), original works (Letters to John Lennon, In the Flesh, Pilate, Hymn to the Chesapeake, Holy Motion), musicals (Assassins, The Fantasticks, Gifts of the Magi) and Shakespeare (The Tempest, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and an award-winning turn as Hamlet). He appeared in the independent feature films The Proper Care and Feeding of an American Messiah and Endings, and was a founding member of the Slap Happy! Improvisational Comedy Troupe. Joseph's directing work has included plays by Shakespeare, Ionesco, Chekhov, Eliot, Brecht, Pinter, and world premieres of Kurt Gerstein by Paul Patton, a performance adaptation of Ecclesiastes, his own works, Braids, The Silent, The Playhouse, and the devised work Johanne d'Arc. Joseph is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, a board member and head of the New Works Initiative for Christians in Theatre Arts (CITA), and is the Mississippi state representative to the board of directors of the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) from the Mississippi Theatre Association (MTA). Joseph is the artistic director of the floodlight theatre company.

John MaxwellJohn Maxwell (2014), Assistant Professor of Theatre
B.A., University of Mississippi
M.A., University of Mississippi

In 1981 John Maxwell started touring Oh, Mr. Faulkner, Do You Write? after its premiere here at New Stage. Since that time he has toured the show all over the world to twelve different foreign countries and most of the continental United States. Included in these dates have been The Bottom Line (New York), The Smithsonian, Picolo Spoleto Festival, The Alliance Theatre, The Alabama Shakespeare Festival and many others. He was honored to present the show at the Cultural Olympiad in Atlanta. Included in that audience were nine Nobel Laureates and former president, Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalyn.

Mr. Maxwell winner of the prestigious Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts in the state of Mississippi holds a Masters Degree in Theatre from The University of Mississippi. He has been the recipient of a Tennessee Williams Scholarship to study playwriting at The Sewanee's Writer's Conference, and he is the 1992 recipient of the Susan B. Herron Playwriting Fellowship of the Mississippi Arts Commission. In 1989 his play titled The Salvation of Sunshine Billy was produced at the Heritage Repertory Theatre of The University of Virginia and received a W. Alton Jones Foundation Grant for New American Plays. His religious play titled Buck-Nekkid has been produced in Jackson at New Stage Theatre, in Atlanta at the Art Colony where it was chosen as one of the Top Ten New Plays produced in Atlanta for that year, in Birmingham, AL at the New Play Festival, and in Ft. Worth, TX at Stage West. Most recently he was reward with two separate fellowships both in performance and writing from the Mississippi Arts Commission.

He is the founder of Fish Tale Group, a non-profit organization dedicated to revitalizing interest in the Bible through original drama. Mr. Maxwell has written and tours with a variety of Biblical characters in monologues: St. Paul (The Last Epistle), St. Peter (Fish Tale), John the Baptist (Flower Child), Barnabas (Giving and the Son of Joy!), Judas (Me and My Shadow) and Joseph (Joseph, Father to the Step Son).

He is a member of both Actor's Equity and Screen Actors Guild, and has appeared in numerous films for screen and television. Most recently he received The Best Actor Award for the screen version of Oh, Mr. Faulkner, Do You Write? at The 2011 Twain Harte Film Festival in Los Angeles. He also received Best Actor Award for the role at The 2006 Atlanta Film Festival.

Adjunct Faculty:

Shannon Frost (2004) Adjunct
B.A., Malone College
M.A., Regent University