Faculty

Felia Davenport, Theatre Department Chair

Niyi Coker, E. Desmond Lee Endowed Professor of African and African/American Studies

Glen Anderson, Associate Professor of Technical Theatre and Design

Jacqueline Thompson, Assistant Professor of Theatre


Adjuncts

Gregory Carr, Theatre Adjunct

Jamie McKittrick, Theatre Adjunct

Matthew R. Kerns, Theatre Adjunct

Shanara Gabrielle, Theatre Adjunct

Sarah Earll, Theatre Adjunct

Jason Stahr, Theatre Adjunct

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Felia Davenport
Theatre Chairfelia
Felia Davenport holds a BFA in Theatre with an emphasis in Costume Design from Virginia Commonwealth University, an MFA in Costume Design from University of Tennessee-Knoxville.  She has won many awards for her costume design work from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Southeastern Theatre Conference and her work was recognized at USITT (United States Institute for Theatre Technology).  She has also been honored to have her designs be shown at the Prague Quadrennial, which is an international exhibition of theatre designers and artists from over 50 countries.  Over the years, she has worked for theatres in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Missouri as a designer or a crafts artisan.

As a designer her professional credits include Preemptive which premiered at the Shaw Theatre in London and at the National Theatre in Nigeria, Equus (HotCity Theatre), Black Pearl Sings (St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre Company),The Eight Reindeer Monologues (HotCity Theatre), O Pioneers!, a world premier opera at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center, Lakme (Union Avenue Opera), Music and Moves, Disconnect and various other dance pieces for Modern American Dance Company, The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Stray Dog Theatre), The Odd Couple, A Year with Frog and Toad, The Trojan Women, Fences (The Clarence Brown Theatre), The Waiting Room (The Actors Studio), Boesman and Lena (St. Louis Black Repertory Company), Sarafina (St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre Company), The Misanthrope (Clarence Brown Theatre).  She has also designed clothing for local Motown musical groups, as well as, contributing to the August Wilson Series which appeared at the Kennedy Center.  

Contact:
Felia Katherine Davenport 
Associate Professor, Costume Design
Theatre Department
The University of Missouri Saint Louis
201 Arts Administration Building
phone: 314.516.4581
email: davenportf@umsl.edu


niyiNiyi Coker, Jr.
E. Desmond Lee Professor
African/African-American Theatre, Cinema, Directing, Playwriting, & Acting Center for International Studies Fellow

Dr. ‘Niyi Coker, Jr. is E. Desmond Lee Professor in the Department of Theatre, Dance and Media Studies. ‘Niyi Coker Jr., has directed over 50 major stage productions around the world. He has also served as Director for several professional theatre companies ranging from the National Theatre of Nigeria, to Malmo Hogskola in Sweden, Copenhagen, Denmark, Ghana and England.

He is the founding Artistic Director of the African Arts Ensemble in New York City. His theatre directing credits include Ola Rotimi's "The Gods Are Not to Blame" at the Nat Horne Theatre- Off Broadway in New York City, Lewis Nkosi's "The Psychiatrist" at the John Houseman Theatre in New York City (Theatre Row), and at King Alfred’s Theatre in Winchester, England. He has also received the Kennedy Center Merit Award and recognition for Directing.

He received British Council Grant and Support in writing the play, "Endangered Species", which was also performed at John Houseman Theatre in New York and toured several theatres in the United Kingdom. In association with the Southern Ute Tribal Council in Colorado, he wrote the historical play, "Ouray". This is a play based on the 19th century struggles of the Utes in Colorado, against European encroachment. In collaboration with Musician, Dr. Barbara Harbach and Lyricist, Dr. Jonathan Yordy, he wrote and directed the musical “Booth!”, which had its Off-Broadway New York Premiere at the NYU Skirball Theatre. The production of his latest play,  “Preemptive” recently toured Barbados, Nigeria, and Great Britain.

His Film writing, directing and producing credits include, "Black Studies USA", which won best short documentary at the 2005 Berlin Black Film Festival in Germany, 2007 Silver Remi Award at Worldfest in Houston, and was Official Selection at the 2007 Hollywood Black Film Festival. He also directed & produced "The Black 14" for FERPA/PBS through the University of Wyoming Television. He has served as Consultant for Black Canyon/HBO Productions Emmy nominated documentary "Fields of Fire". His latest film, “Pennies for the Boatman”, a feature film he directed, based on writer Mario Farwell’s play, “The Seamstress of Saint Francis Street” opened at the Tivoli Cinema theatre in Saint Louis Missouri.  He is working on a new documentary film on  OTA BENGA.

'Niyi Coker, Jr. received the B.A. in Dramatic Arts from the University of Ife. He received the MFA in Directing from Brooklyn College CUNY, and the Ph.D in African American Studies from Temple University, Philadelphia.

He has published two books; "A Study of the Music and Social Criticism of African Musician Fela Kuti" and "Ola Rotimi's African Theatre: The Development of an Indigenous Aesthetic". His articles have appeared in several newspapers and journals including, the NYU Renaissance Journal, the Journal for Black Studies and the Encyclopedia of Black Studies. He has a book chapter on “Film as Historical Method in Black Studies” in the "Handbook for Black Studies" edited by Molefi Asante and Maulana Karenga, published by Sage Press. 

He is a member of the United States Commission for FESMAN III to be held in Dakar, Senegal in 2011. He was recently honored with the 2009 Saint Louis American Excellence in Education Award. He is Festival Director of the Africa World Documentary Film Festival.

Contact:
Niyi Coker, Jr.
University of Missouri-St.Louis 
237 Art Administrarion Building  
phone: 516-4852 
email: niyi@umsl.edu 


Glen Andersonglen
Associate Professor of Technical Theatre and Design

Glen Anderson holds a BS degree in Technical Theatre and Design from Ball State University in Muncie, IN. He received his MFA degree from The University of Florida in Gainesville, Fl. He revived the Barbizon Award for design excellence from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in 2007 for his design of Samuel Becket’s WAITING FOR GODOT. His work has appeared in Light and Sound America, Dance Teacher Magazine, Muse Magazine and the cover of Southern Theatre. He has displayed his work in the World Stage Design exhibition in Toronto Canada and has been invited to display his work in the The Prague quadrennial design exhibition. He has trained in both American and European theatrical design philosophy, combining them both into his work. He has worked professionally as a Scenic Designer, Props Designer, Lighting Designer, Projection Designer, Technical Director, Charge Artist, Master Electrician, Scenic Carpenter. His work has appeared on Tour and on stages around the country with companies such as the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre, Light Opera Oklahoma, The Theatre in The Park, Western Washington University, Missouri Western State University and The PK Yong Performing Arts program.

Contact:
Glen M. Anderson
Associate Professor, Technical Theatre and Design
Theatre Department
The University of Missouri Saint Louis
201 Arts Administration Building
phone: 314.516.4574
email: andersongle@umsl.edu


thomJacqueline Thompson
Assistant Professor of Theatre

Jacqueline Thompson is a theatre artist passionate about providing students opportunities to explore their creativity and embrace their individuality. She received her B.A. in Speech Communications from Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia.  Ms. Thompson holds a Master in Fine Arts in Acting from the University of Louisville as well as a graduate certificate in African American Theatre. She also earned a certification in Broadcast Performance from the Broadcast center in St. Louis.

This actor and director  has utilized her collective experiences to work as a teaching artist for regional theatres such as Actors Theatre of Louisville.  Thompson has performed in myriad productions throughout her career.  Some  local credits include Insidious (Black Rep) Gees Bend (Mustard Seed) A Kid Like Jake (The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis) Afflicted (Metro Theatre Company)  Old Hearts Fresh and the director for the 2015 Shakespeare In The Street production(Shakespeare Festival St. Louis). Jacqueline is a member of SDC and a member of the 2015-2016 SDCF Observership class. 

Contact:
Jacqueline Thompson
Assistant Professor of Theatre
Theatre Department
The University of Missouri Saint Louis
201 Arts Administration Building
phone: 314.516.4572


Theatre Adjuncts

carrGregory Carr
carrgs@umsl.eduGregory S. Carr received his MFA in Theatre from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He has directed many productions such as: Ceremonies in Dark Old Men, The River Niger, The Meeting, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, God’s Trombones, and The Tempest. He is also an accomplished playwright as well. Some of his plays include:  When Johnny Came Home, Catch a Glimpse, Jacob’s Well, Johnny Taylor Is Gone, and A Colored Funeral. Gregory has performed with the St. Louis Black Repertory Company, The Muny, Pamoja Theatre Workshop, and Historyonics Theatre. He has shot numerous commercials, industrial films and had a role in the Syfy Channel’s The Black Hole 2006.

 

Jamie McKittrickjami
Jamie McKittrick recently moved back to her hometown of St. Louis where, in conjunction with her company The Salt House Collective, she brought her one woman show, Sparkle- TA DAAA!!!, to the St. Louis Fringe festival where it won a Critic’s Choice Award and 2 Fringe Crush Awards.  She also choreographed and performed in Mathew Kerns’ Gay Fantasia (also a Critic’s Choice Award winner) in conjunction with The Salt House Collective for the St. Louis Fringe.  Previously, she was a Philadelphia based theatre artist for 10 years where she developed, choreographed, and performed in Swim Pony Performing Arts’ SURVIVE! (named one of the “Best of the Year” by the Philadelphia Weekly) and Lady M, which was a successful part of the curated Philadelphia Live Arts Festival. For Johnny Showcase and the Lefty Lucy Players, she choreographed and performed as one of the “6 Lady Dancers” for the 2009 Philly Fringe Festival hit Purr, Pull, Reign.  She continued to work with and choreograph for the Johnny Showcase and the Lefty Lucy Cabaret in monthly shows as one half of the back up singers, The Truth, and one of the Six Lady Dancers.  You can also hear her singing on “Love is the Message”, Johnny Showcase’s first album that’s available on iTunes.  Regionally, she’s performed in La Cage Aux Folles, Alice and Wonderland, Romeo and Juliet,  The Who’s Tommy, High Society, and The Robber Bridegroom, for which she received a Kevin Kline nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical.  Off-Broadway, she performed as The Alter Ego in Mac Wellman’s world premiere of Anything’s Dream at The Flea Theatre.  She’s toured nationally and collaborated internationally with symphony orchestras through Enchantment Theatre Company’s productions of Scheherazade, Cinderella, and The Velveteen Rabbit.  She’s also choreographed and assistant directed to Leslie Reidel for Enchantment’s most recent national touring production of Sylvester and the Magic Pebble and symphony production of Ravel’s Ma Mere L’oye, a collaboration with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.  In addition to her work as an artist, she’s invested in teaching professional, emerging, and brand new artists.  Lately, Jamie’s been teaching acting to talented and inquisitive undergraduate theatre students at Muhlenberg College and her workshop, Viewpoints for the Performer: Embodiment in Action, in cities like NYC, Boulder, and St. Louis.  As an outreach teaching artist, Jamie has taught all across the country, but her two favorite experiences have been creating, developing, and directing the drama program at the Roberto Clemente Charter School as part of a grant the school received to bring her in as an Artist in Residence, and founding the Performing Arts Workshop at Muhlenberg College.  She is a graduate of the MFA program in Contemporary Performance at Naropa University where she worked directly with her mentors Wendell Beavers, in The Viewpoints Technique, Erika Berland in Somatic Movement, Ethie Friend in Roy Hart Voice Technique, Greg Pierotti of Techtonic in Moment Work Technique, Steve Wangh and Randy Rand in Psycho-physical Acting, and Leeny Sacks in Presence and Performance.


mattMatthew R. Kerns has acted and directed professionally across the nation. His work has been featured at International Fringe Festivals, Chicago theaters, and at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. His original work, Gay Fantasaia, a late night theatrical immerseive event surrounding the last days of Harvey Milk and the first days of the HIV/AIDS Crisis, won the St Louis Fringe Festival in 2014. As a director he gravitates toward works that surround historical events and explores “hot button” issues. He creates multi-media events. As an performer, he has been featured in local, regional and national commercials, independent films, and on stages across the country.

Matthew has been an arts educator for sixteen years. His students are currenlty seen on national televsion, major motion pictures, independent films, commericals, regional theatres across the world, and Broadway. As the Chair of the theatre department at The Chicago Academy for the Arts High School he created a generalist theatre program that grew to become the largest department in the school. He taught Public Speaking and Critical Thinking for the School of Communications at Loyola University Chicago and he was the Director of Theatre at Sonoma Academy where he developed a musical theatre track. At both CAA and SA he produced and directed full seasons of productions annually. He has taught applied theatre techniques that include documentary style theatre, improvisational theatre, site-specific work and original composition. He has also taught foundational acting techniques, advanced studies and classical acting styles.

He is a contemplative educator infusing learning with the experience of awareness, insight and compassion for oneself and others. He explored this style of teaching while studying for his MFA in Contemporary Performance at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. Acting, for Matthew, is experiential and psychophysical. His training is heavily rooted in the theories of Stanislavsky, Meisner, and Growtowski. He develops movement through the lenses of Improvisation, Somatic Dance and Mary Overly’s Viewpoints. When he directs site-specific and immersive events he use the tools from my training with the Tectonic Theater Project. He has studied The Roy Hart Vocal Technique with Master Teacher Ethyln Friend.  

Matthew was a member of the faculty that was the receipent of the The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Creative Ticket & National Schools of Distinction-Award. He was also a Jospeph Jefferson Award Recepient as part of the Best Production team for Dreamboy at About Face Theatre. His solo performances of Chicken, and Christian Growth with Father Curver with named Critics Choice by the Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times, Chicago Reader, and NPR. 

Matthew is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools and the Theatre Communications Group.

He has been In a panelist  at the NAIS national conference, key note speaker at the National Writing Conference for Youth and attended theatre and educational conferences/workshops on diversity and inclusion.


shanShanara Gabrielle is a midwest-based artist working in a wide variety of theatrical mediums.  As an actor, director, musician, aerialist, and performer Ms. Gabrielle is keen to find these arts' points of intersection and discover new ways to shape the future of the American Theatre.  

Interested in creating new work and reimagining classic texts, Ms. Gabrielle has been fortunate to work closely with playwrights, directors, actors, and musicians on a number of new plays in the past year and also had the pleasure of exploring the great classics, from Dickens to Coleridge.  Currently, Ms. Gabrielle is playing Hermione, one of Shakespeare’s great heroines, in A Winter’s Tale; adapting and directing a touring production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream; and creating a one-woman cabaret show to be performed in the Gaslight Cabaret Festival.  

Ms. Gabrielle has worked at theaters across the country including: The Guthrie Theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Great Lakes Theatre, Northern Stage, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Metropolitan Playhouse, St. Louis Repertory Theatre, Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival, Stages St. Louis, Theatre for the New City, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, Hollywood Playhouse, Musicals Tonight, The Black Rep, American Heartland Theatre, Upstream Theater, and been an ensemble member at The Great River Shakespeare Festival.  She has appeared in film, television, and commercials.  She is a proud member of Actor's Equity Association and Screen Actor's Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.


saraSarah A. Earll  earned her MFA from Western Illinois University.  She has been working professionally in the St. Louis area for the past ten years. She is currently a resident actress for Clever Productions.