Dr. Elissa Sartwell is a director, acting coach, dramaturg, and theatre historian. She is drawn to plays that reflect the power of forgiveness and reconciliation. Both as a director and an acting coach, Dr. Sartwell embraces Stanislavksi’s later action-based approach to acting, specifically as articulated by Declan Donnellan in The Actor in the Target. In classes and rehearsals, she also emphasizes integration of body, breath, and voice. Dr. Sartwell has been recognized by the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for direction, ensemble devising, and dramaturgy.
Dr. Sartwell enjoys working professionally as a production dramaturg. At New Stage Theatre (Jackson, MS), she served as production dramaturg for Silent Sky, The Diary of Anne Frank, Sweat, and Morningside. While in her graduate program, Dr. Sartwell was a resident dramaturg at Swine Palace where she worked with directors John Dennis, Leon Ingulsrud, and Jane Drake Brody.
As a theatre historian, Dr. Sartwell’s research explores the ways in which history is written and codified through performance. Her 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.
Dr. Sartwell teaches courses in acting, directing, script analysis, theatre history, and dramaturgy. She also directs in the department’s theatre season and serves as the Artistic Director for Belhaven Theatre.
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.