Gretchen Elizabeth Smith is associate dean for students in the Meadows School of the Arts and head of theatre studies in the Division of Theatre. She provides oversight for the Meadows offices of student academic services; scholarships & financial aid; and recruitment & admissions, and for the theatre studies track of the Division of Theatre’s B.F.A. program. Dr. Smith has been a tenured faculty member of the Division of Theatre for two decades, as well as holding the position of chair (2018-2021).
She teaches courses in theatre history and performance studies, including seminars focusing on gender in performance and theory, American and English dramatic literature, analyzing performances of ritual and festival, and the B.F.A. playwriting sequence.
As a theatre historian and performance studies scholar, her research interests include analyzing texts and images from Molière’s popular and court performance in France during the reign of Louis XIV, and investigating Paris’s female performers (actresses, dancers, singers and others) across the conflicting duality of employee and icon during the second half of the 19th century. She is currently writing about the imagery of Molière in texts published between 1660 and 1682.
As a playwright, her scripts focus on women and identity, interrogating narratives surrounding history, biography, gender, bodies and ageism; her plays have been performed in various cities including New York and Athens.
Since 1995, she has been the mentor and producer of New Visions, New Voices, staging original full-length plays written by B.F.A. students. Plays and playwrights from NVNV have gone on to readings and production in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Seattle, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Austin, Miami, and Washington, D.C. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild and the International Centre for Women Playwrights, and served as the regional director of playwriting for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. In this position, she was instrumental in bringing the work of student playwrights to regional and national conference audiences as well as awarding honors and scholarships.
Dr. Smith is also active in SMU’s Study Abroad program. She has taught and led programs in London and Oxford since 2003 and is a past member of SMU’s Education Abroad Council. She has been an active mentor in SMU’s Engaged Learning program, working with over 25 students on projects centered in Dallas, New York, Seoul, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, Moscow and London. She received Engaged Learning’s Excellence in Mentoring Award for her contributions.
Ph.D., Theatre, Indiana University, Bloomington
M.F.A., Playwriting, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
B.A., English, The College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Va.
- Theatre History, Performance, & Literature: The Greeks to Hamilton
- Playwriting: Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced, Master’s Class
- Studies in Theatre, Drama, & Performance courses, including:
- English Theatre, Shakespeare to Present (SMU-in-Oxford Summer Program)
- Gender in Performance (co-listed with Women & Gender Studies)
- American Drama & the Citizen: The Contrast (1787) to Hamilton (2015)
- Ritual, Festival & Exhibition: The Event of Performance
- Adaptation: Rewriting texts across genres and forms