As a theatre director, my work explores the intersection between physical theatre, devising, and multi-media technology tackling challenging social issues such as suicide, mental illness, the death penalty, and sustainability.
My theatre company Vessel, founded in 1996, transforms the street into a stage, revealing the beauty and poetry of the mundane.
As a performance studies scholar, several research threads connect my work--ritual, utopian theory, festival studies, and movement pedagogy (Lecoq and Rasaboxes).
Rachel Bowditch (PhD/Associate Professor): Her unique international background growing up living overseas for 18 years–Rome, Italy; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Jakarta, Indonesia, Singapore, Tel Aviv, Israel, London, and Paris during her formative years has deeply connected her to a theater far removed from American Realism. She is a visual artist whose canvas is the street and the stage--painting visual, visceral poetic portraits through bodies, light, sound, media, and costumes. She fundamentally believes theatre is a transformative art that has deep healing potential.
She received her BA in Theatre (Directing) from Skidmore College, a certificate of completion from Ecole de Jacques Lecoq International School of Physical Theatre in Paris, France, and her MA and PhD in Performance Studies from New York University. She is one of the six certified Rasaboxes teachers.
Currently, she holds the position as the Director of Graduate Studies in the School of Film, Dance, and Theatre in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University overseeing 8 graduate programs: MFA in Theatre for Youth, MFA in Dance, MFA in Directing, MFA in Performance, MFA in Dramatic Writing, and MFA in Interdisciplinary Digital Media as well as the PhD in Theatre for Youth and PhD in Theatre and Performance of the Americas. She also directs the MFA in Performance program that focuses on devising, actor-creator methodologies, and new work development.
In 2018, she was a Fellow at the Harvard Mellon Institute for Performance Research in “Public Humanities,” and was featured as one of the “Top 100 Creatives,” by Origins Magazine in 2015. She is a theatre director and author of three books, On the Edge of Utopia: Performance and Ritual at Burning Man (Seagull/University of Chicago Press 2010), Performing Utopia co-edited with Pegge Vissicaro (Seagull/University of Chicago Press 2018), and Physical Dramaturgy: Perspectives from the Field co-edited with Jeff Casazza and Annette Thornton (Routledge 2018). She is currently working on her fourth book under contract with Routledge about Richard Schechner’s performance workshop and Rasaboxes with Paula Murray Cole and Michele Minnick (expected publication 2020).
Her scholarly work has been published in TDR (The Performance Review), Performance Research, Theatre Topics, the Journal of Media and Religion, Ecumenica, and Puppetry International as well as book chapters in Festive Devils in the Americas edited by Milla Riggio and Paolo Vignolo, Playa Dust: Collected Stories from Burning Man edited by Samantha Krukowski, and Focus on World Festivals edited by Chris Newbold. She wrote the catalogue essay for two Berlin-based artists, ROMER + ROMER (translated into German) for their Burning Man: Electric Sky exhibit in Berlin in 2019 at Haus am Lutzowplatz, where she also gave a lecture. She regularly presents both her scholarship and theatre research at theatre conferences nationally and internationally.
Her performance and directing work specializes in devising, site-specific, immersive, mask, and physical theatre, and tackles challenging social issues from suicide, addiction, madness, forced relocation, the death penalty, and colonization. Her work has been presented at theatres and venues such as Childsplay, Mixed Blood, Northwest Children's Theatre, the Denver Center, Mesa Arts Center, Phoenix Art Museum, IDEA Museum, and Scottsdale Public Art. Her artistic work has been featured and reviewed in The Director's Vision by Scott Shattuck, Digital Media, Projection Design, and Technology for Theatre by Alex Oliszewski and Daniel Fine (Routledge), the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Theatre Journal, Newsweek, American Theatre, The Sun (NYC), The Village Voice, Time Out New York, Live Design, Rolling Stone, Vogue Italia, U.S. Airways Magazine, Channel 12 News, Channel 8/PBS, ABC 15 News, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minneapolis Daily Planet, Aisle Say Twin Cities, TYA Today, the Phoenix New Times and the Arizona Republic among other publications.
In 2016, she spent a month in Bali studying mask carving with Nyoman Seitwan as part of the Dell'arte Bali program.
To see more of her directing/performance work, visit: www.vesselproject.org