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Rhonda Blair


Rhonda Blair has directed and performed in over 70 productions and has been doing original solo and collaborative performance work since the 1980s. Her main areas of interest include acting theory – particularly looking at applications of cognitive science to the acting process – , performance studies, theatre and politics, feminism and theatre, alternative performance, and Chekhov. Her book, The Actor, Image, and Action: Acting and Cognitive Neuroscience, is being used by acting teachers in both the U.S. and England. She is president of the American Society for Theatre Research (2009-2012).


Ph.D., Theatre, University of Kansas, 1982 M.A., Slavic Languages and Literature (Russian), University of Kansas, 1978 M.A., Theatre (Acting and Directing), University of Kansas, 1976 B.A., Theatre, University of Nevada at Las Vegas, 1973

Professional Experience

Directing (selected):

Our Town (Thornton Wilder), SMU, September 2010.

End Days (Deborah Zoe Laufer), Echo Theatre, February 2010.

The Stronger (August Strindberg), SMU workshop, April 2009.

Hedda Gabler (Henrik Ibsen), SMU workshop, March 2009.

Stuff Happens (David Hare), SMU, September 2007.

365 Plays/365 Days, Week 22 (Suzan-Lori Parks), Echo Theatre, April 2007.

Three Sisters (Anton Chekhov), SMU, November 2005.

A Doll’s House (Henrik Ibsen), SMU, November 2003.

Boy Gets Girl (Rebecca Gilman), Echo Theatre, March 2003.

Venus (Suzan-Lori Parks), SMU, October 2002.

Anton in Show Business (Jane Martin), SMU, November 2001.

Stop Kiss (Diana Son), Echo Theatre, Dallas, April 2001.

Top Girls (Caryl Churchill), SMU, November 2000.

Lemonade (Eve Ensler), Echo Theatre, Dallas, April 2000.

Hedda Gabler (Henrik Ibsen), SMU, February 2000.

Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 (Anna Deavere Smith), SMU, October 1998.

The Seagull (Anton Chekhov), SMU, January 1998.

Scenes from an Execution (Howard Barker), SMU, February 1997.

Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare), SMU, February 1996.

Three Poets (Romulus Linney), Hampshire College, April 1994.

Stage Blood (Charles Ludlam), Hampshire College, Nov. 1991.

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Bertolt Brecht), Hampshire College, Nov. 1988.

Acting and writing (selected):

American Cassandra: Déjà vu (lead writer, performer, co-director), Echo Theatre, Bathhouse Cultural Center, Dallas, 9/04.

Mary Todd Lincoln, Mary and Myra. Dallas Women’s Museum, 8/06.

Dreaming America: In the Bunker with George (lead writer, performer, coordinator), Echo Theatre, Bathhouse Cultural Center, Dallas, 10/04.

Performer, Echo Theatre. Dallas Arts Gala, Dallas Convention Center, 9/04.

American Burka (also head writer, co-director; an original performance piece), Echo Theatre, Frank's Place, Dallas Theater Center, Dallas, 4/02.

Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler, staged reading for Echo Theatre, national V-Day activities; Big D Festival of the Unexpected, Dallas Theater Center, 5/00; Theatre Three, Dallas, 2/01.

American Jesus (orig. solo performance), Performance Studies International, Univ. of Wales, 4/99; “Echo Presents” bill, Frank’s Place, Dallas Theater Center, 6/99; Northaven United Methodist Church, 9/99.

I Used to be One Hot Number (orig. solo performance), Big D Festival of the Unexpected, Dallas Theater Center, Dallas, TX, 4/96; Southwestern University, Georgetown, TX, 10/96; Thorne's Market, Northampton, MA, 3/95.

Actor, The Fever by Wally Shawn, multiple sites, Amherst/Northampton, MA, 10/92-1/93.

Therapist, Six of One, Theatre in the Works, Univ. of Massachusetts, 7/91.

Molly Bloom from Ulysses, Helms Unites Artists Against Censorship Benefit, East Street Studio, Hadley, MA, 8/90.

Box (original solo performance), workshop at Smith College, theatrical performance at Southern Connecticut State Univ., video adaptation co-directed with and produced by Greg Jones, 1989.

Charlotta Ivanovna, The Cherry Orchard, Smith College,1986.

Actor, "For the Country Entirely" (Gertrude Stein), Hampshire College, 1986.

Desdemona, Othello; Isabella, Measure for Measure, Shakespeare in Central Park, Louisville, 1983.


Theatre History II; Studies in Contemporary Performance: Solo Performance; Acting III; Acting IV; Text Analysis I; Theories of Modern Theatre Practice



Editor. Richard Boleslavsky, Acting: The First Six Lessons: Documents from the American Laboratory Theatre. New York, London: Routledge, 2010.

The Actor, Image, and Action: Acting and Cognitive Neuroscience. New York, London: Routledge, 2008.

Co-editor with Bruce McConachie and Raynette Halvorsen Smith, Perspectives on Teaching Theatre, Peter Lang, 2001.


Articles and translations

Co-editor. Special section on cognitive science, theatre and performance. Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism. Forthcoming, fall 2011

"Stanislavsky and Cognitive Science" (interchange with John Hill). TDR: A Journal of Performance Studies, T207, Vol. 54, No. 3, Fall 2010.

"Acting, Embodiment, and Text: Hedda Gabler and Possible Uses of Cognitive Science." Theatre Topics, March 2010.

"Some Thoughts on Cognitive Neuroscience and Acting: Imagination, Conceptual Blending, and Empathy." TDR: A Journal of Performance Studies, T204, Vol. 54, No. 4, Winter 2009.

 “I’ve Been Provoked: Pushing Against the Bush Library.” TDR – The Drama Review: A Journal of Performance Studies, Vol. 51, No. 3 (T 195), Fall 2007.

“(Refuting) Arguments for the End of Theatre: Possible Implications of Cognitive Neuroscience for Performance.” Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, Spring 2007, Vol. XXI, No. 2.

“Reconsidering Stanislavsky: Feeling, Feminism, and the Actor.” Performance Studies Reader, Henry Bial, ed. New York, London: Routledge. 2007.

“Image and Action: Cognitive Neuroscience and Actor Training.” In Performance and Cognition: Theatre Studies after the Cognitive Turn. Bruce McConachie and F. Elizabeth Hart, eds. New York, London: Routledge, 2006.

“’Not … but’/ ‘No-Not-Me’: Musings on Cross-Gender Performance.” In Women in American Theatre. revised and expanded third edition, Helen Krich Chinoy and Linda Walsh Jenkins, eds. New York: Theatre Communinications Group, 2006.

Translation: Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov. Produced by SMU Division of Theatre, November 2005.

Hedda Gabler: Revisiting Style and Substance.” Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, Vol. XVI, Number 2, Spring 2002.

"Reconsidering Stanislavsky: Feeling, Feminism, and the Actor."  Theatre Topics, Vol. 12, Number 2, September 2002.

 “‘Nothing Unspoken’: Tennessee Williams’ The Notebook of Trigorin and Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull.” In Tennessee Williams: A Casebook, ed. Robert Gross, Garland Publishing, Inc., 2002.

"Specific Approximations: Chekhov's The Seagull, Translation, and the Actor.Metamorphosis: The Five Colleges Journal of Translation.  Spring 2001.

Translation:  The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov.  Produced by SMU Division of Theatre, February 2001.  (This is a new, revised translation.)

“The Method and the Computational Theory of Mind.” In Method Acting Reconsidered, ed. David Krasner, St. Martin’s Press, 2000.

Review.  "Company of Women: Henry V."  In Theatre Journal, Oct. 1995.

"'Not ... But/Not Not Me': Musings on Cross Gender Performance."  In Upstaging Big Daddy: Directing Theater as if Race and Gender Matter, eds. Ellen Donkin and Sue Clement, University of Michigan Press, 1993.

"The Alcestis Project: Split Britches at Hampshire College."  Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, Vol. 6, No. 1, 1993.

"Liberating the Young Actor: Feminist Pedagogy and Performance."  Theatre Topics, Vol. 2, No. 1, March 1992.

"A History of the Women and Theatre Program."  In Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, Vol. 4, No. 2, Summer 1989.

Adaptation:  A Month in the Country by Ivan Turgenev.  Produced by the Department of Theatre, Mount Holyoke College, October 1988.

Translation:  The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov.  Produced by the Department of Theatre, University of Nevada at Las Vegas, March 1988.

Review, co-author Ellen Donkin.  "Pina Bausch: The Seven Deadly Sins."  In Women & Performance, Vol. 3, No.1, Fall 1986.

"Report on the Women and Theatre Preconference."  In Women & Performance, Vol. 3, No. 2.

Acting version:  Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen.  Produced by SMU Division of Theatre, February 2000; Hampshire College Theatre, February 1986.

"Shakespeare and the Feminist Actor."  In Women and Performance, Vol. 2, No. 2, 1985.

"A White Marriage: Rozewicz's Feminist Tragedy." In Slavic and East European Arts, Winter 1985.

Translation:  The Seagull by Anton Chekhov.  Produced by SMU Division of Theatre, January 1998; Hampshire Theatre, February 1989; University of Kentucky Theatre Department, February, 1984.

Translation:  La Ronde by Arthur Schnitzler. Produced by University of Kentucky, Mainstage, Oct. 1982.


President, American Society for Theatre Research, 2009-2012

Editorial board, Theatre Topics

Editorial board, Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism

President, SMU Faculty Senate, 2006-2007

SMU Ford Faculty Research Fellowship recipient, 2008

Past president, Women and Theatre Program, Association for Theatre in Higher Education

Past recipient of project grants, National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities

Areas of Study



Art History

Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship

Corporate Communication and Public Affairs

Creative Computation


Film and Media Arts




Undergraduate Studies

Graduate Studies

Classes (See Catalog)


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