Rachel Bowditch, MA/PhD is a performer, theatre director, performance studies scholar, and an Associate Professor in the School of Film, Dance, and Theatre in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University. She has a unique international background growing up and living overseas for 18 years. A U.S. citizen but born in Rome, Italy she lived in Italy for 5 years, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for 2 1/2 years, Jakarta, Indonesia for six months, Singapore for eight years, Tel Aviv, Israel for 2 years, London for six months, Paris, France for one year, upstate New York for 3 years, New York City for seven years and Phoenix, Arizona since 2006. Living in Asia and Europe during her formative years and her extensive international travels to Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Egypt, Kenya, Germany, Austria, France, Holland, England, Turkey, Greece, Malaysia, Bali, Indonesia, Thailand, Maldives, and Japan has deeply connected her to a theater far removed from American Realism.
Her book, On the Edge of Utopia: Performance and Ritual at Burning Man was published in 2010 as part of the Enactments Series (Seagull Press/University of Chicago Press). Her work has been published in Performance Research, TDR, Puppetry International and the Journal of Religion and Theatre. She is co-editing the Crossing the Line: Rasaboxes and Training the Athlete of the Emotions with Paula Murray Cole with various contributors such as Richard Schechner, Michele Minnick, and others.
She was an Institute for Humanities Research Fellow (2009/2010) at Arizona State University with Pegge Vissicaro (Clinical Professor of Dance) for their book project Festive Bodies: Performing Utopia and Resistance in the Americas (forth coming with Seagull Books/University of Chicago Press).
She has presented her scholarship at conferences in the U.S., Singapore, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, and London. Her performance and directing work has been featured and reviewed in American Theatre, the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Theatre Journal, TDR, Live Design, The Village Voice, the Wall Street Journal, Channel 8/PBS, ABC 15 News, and the Arizona Republic among other publication
Her studies at Skidmore College, the British American Drama Academy (BADA), Dell’ Arte School of Physical Theatre, Ecole de Jacques Lecoq International School of Physical Theatre, Suzuki and Viewpoints with Anne Bogart and the SITI Company, and becoming a certified instructor in the rasaboxes actor training technique have helped her move toward achieving her vision of theater. She received her Masters degree and Ph.D. in Performance Studies, Tisch School of the Arts at New York University in 2006.
A recent highlight was directing The Sun Serpent, a two-year (2010 2011) devising project produced by Childsplay with a $20,000 development grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The world premiere was at the Tempe Center for the Arts as part of the CALA Festival. The award winning creative team consisted of playwright José Cruz González, composer Daniel Valdez, projection designer Adam Larsen, set designer Carey Wong, costume designer Connie Furr, lighting designer Tim Monson, and mask-maker Zarco Guerrero. The show is being remounted at Mixed Blood in Minneapolis in February 2014.
Having three professional actors play over 30 roles was achieved through masks, rigorous physicality, and digital projections. The production was featured in American Theatre, TYA Today, Horizonte/PBS, Univision and positively reviewed in the Arizona Republic among other publications. It was nominated for 10 Arizoni Awards and won 6 including Best Director, Best Lighting, Best Sound, Best Costumes/masks, Best Set, and Best Overall professional production in 2011.
She devised an original work, The Ophelia Project: A Poetic Portrait of the Lives and Writing of Virginia Woolf, Anne Sexton, and Sylvia Plath produced by Arizona Women’s Theatre Company at Taliesin West, the Frank Lloyd Wright Institute in 2009. She received an Arizona Commission on the Arts grant and a Herberger College Research and Creative Activity Grant for the development and touring of The Ophelia Project. The set was designed by Taliesin apprentices Daniel Dillow and Huiee Wong with installation art by Saskia Jorda and Simon de Aguero. The show was first presented at the Lyceum Theatre at ASU and the Phoenix Fringe Festival 2008 and then toured to the Philadelphia Live Arts/Fringe Festival 2008.
At ASU she has directed Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal, Naomi Iizuka’s Anon(ymous), Deborah Stein's Bone Portraits and The House of the Spirits by Caridad Svich on the Galvin Mainstage. She has served as choreographer and movement coach for Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories directed by Erma Duricko, Caridad Svich’s Iphigenia Crash Lands Falls on the Neon Shell that Once was her Heart directed by Lance Gharavi, House Where Nobody Lives directed by Guillermo Reyes, Bridge to the Stars directed by Bill Partlan, Dreaming Darwin by Lance Gharavi, and In the Penal Colony directed by Kyle Lewis.
In New York City, she directed A Woman’s Place by Susan Riskin at HERE Performing Arts Center, NYC, City of Bells: An Adaptation of the Poetry of Allen Ginsberg at HERE Performing Arts Center, NYC, Mastaba, at the American Living Room Festival, HERE Performing Arts Center 2000; and Arcana at the Ontological-Hysteric Downstairs Series 2002. She has directed and performed in Vessel’s ongoing interactive urban performance Transfix since 1996, which has been seen at over thirty festivals and venues across the U.S. including the Mesa Center for Contemporary Arts, Scottsdale Museum of Modern Art, the New York International Independent Film/Video Festival at Madison Square Garden, (NYC), GenArt Summer Arts Festival (NYC), the New York International Fringe Al Fresco at Central Park and Grand Central, the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, The Kitchen(NYC), the HOWL Festival 2004, (NYC) the UnConvention 2004 (NYC) Performance Studies International #11 at Brown University, Phoenix Fringe Festival, and Scottsdale Public Art.
As an artistic associate of East Coast Artists, she performed in Yokastas (2003) and Yokastas Redux (2005) directed by Richard Schechner at LaMaMa Annex. A certified rasaboxes instructor, she has studied and assisted in rasaboxes presentations and workshops with Schechner, Cole, and Minnick since 2002. As an education associate of RoseLee Goldberg's Performa, she was the liaison between Performance Studies international and Performa 07 in 2007 and worked with Performa for several years organizing Performa 05. She also has worked as an actor with award winning psychologist Paul Ekman (Author of Emotions Revealed) and was featured in his March 2005 National Geographic article on the mind.
She is the founder of M.O.V.E. (Movement. Observation. Vision. Experimentation) Arizona Laboratory for Movement Research Winter Intensive at ASU in collaboration with Sara Romersberger and the Association for Theatre Movement Educators (ATME). For more information about her early work, visit: