A who’s who of theater talents have groomed aspiring stage stars at the University of Houston’s School of Theatre and Dance. Soon, another esteemed artist will join the school’s talented faculty.
Acclaimed playwright and screenwriter Theresa Rebeck will serve as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Playwriting starting this fall. Rebeck’s plays have been produced on and off Broadway. She also has written extensively for television and was the creator and an executive producer of the NBC series “Smash.”
At UH, Rebeck will teach Playwriting III (aimed at juniors). She also will guide senior Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Playwriting/Dramaturgy students as they develop their capstone projects. Under her watchful eye, students will craft a full-length play during their junior year and another during their senior year.
“I'm incredibly excited for our students. Theresa Rebeck is a great American playwright, and she's actively working as a writer,” said Jim Johnson, director of UH’s School of Theatre and Dance. “In addition to writing works for the stage, she also has worked in film and television and has wonderful insights about the art and the business.”
Houstonians recently experienced Rebeck’s work in “Fool,” which had its world premiere at the Alley Theatre in February. Other works for theatre include “Mauritius,” “The Scene,” “The Water’s Edge,” “Loose Knit,” “The Family of Mann,” “Spike Heels,” “Bad Dates,” “Omnium Gatherum” (finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama), “The Understudy” (starring Bradley Cooper), “Seminar” (starring Alan Rickman), “The Scene” (starring Tony Shaloub and Patricia Heaton), and “Dead Accounts” (starring Katie Holmes). Two of her plays – “Sunday on the Rocks” and “A Relaxing Day” – were adapted into films.
Rebeck’s television credits include “L.A. Law,” “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” “NYPD Blue,” “Dream On,” and many other series. She also has contributed her writing talents to films including “Harriet the Spy.”
For her work on “NYPD Blue,” Rebeck earned numerous awards including the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, the Writers Guild of America Award for Episodic Drama, the Hispanic Images Imagen Award and the Peabody Award.
Rebeck also was recognized with the National Theatre Conference Award (for “The Family Man”) and William Inge New Voices Playwriting Award (for “The Bells”). Rebeck’s “Mauritius” earned the 2007 Best Play Award from the Independent Reviewers of Northern England and the Eliot Norton Award. Other honors include the PEN/Laura Pels Foundation Award, the Athena Film Festival Award, an Alex Award and a Lilly Award. In 2011, Newsweek named Rebeck one of the “150 Fearless Women in the World.”
Rebeck hails from Cincinnati and holds a Master of Fine Arts in Playwriting and Ph.D. in Victorian Melodrama, both from Brandeis University. In addition to her creative endeavors, Rebeck contributes her time and energy as a Dramatists Guild board member, a Harvard Review contributing editor and Roundabout Theatre Associate Artist. Rebeck previously taught at Brandeis University and Columbia University.
“I'm thrilled to have Ms. Rebeck join the UH School of Theatre and Dance,” said Rob Shimko, associate professor of theater and head of UH’s Playwriting/Dramaturgy BFA program. “She is one of the most accomplished playwrights in the country and also has a stellar track record as a rigorous teacher and caring mentor. Our discussions thus far have been very focused on the students, and she has some great things planned for them. I can tell that she will have an amazing influence on our young playwrights.”
Rebeck joins a talented UH School of Theatre and Dance faculty and follows in the footsteps of several distinguished artists who have balanced time between the professional stage and UH classrooms. These include Tony Award winner Stuart Ostrow, Tony nominee Kevin Rigdon, Pulitzer Prize winners Edward Albee and Lanford Wilson, Jose Quintero, Sidney Berger, Cecil Pickett and Patsy Swayze.