The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance announces that Professor Shavonne Coleman will join the faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Theatre & Drama in fall 2023. Coleman is a fabulist, facilitator, teaching/performing artist, writer, and director.
Coleman has performed as a storyteller and actor in spaces ranging from applied theatre to professional roles in theatre and short films. She has been a teaching artist in Detroit Public Schools, VSA Michigan, CrossTown Theatre (through Eastern Michigan University), Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, and Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, among others.
Prior to joining SMTD, Coleman served as the theatre for dialogue coordinator at the University of Texas at Austin and as assistant director for transformative learning in the Center for Teaching and Learning. She has also been a visiting professor in the Theatre Department at Grand Valley State University, where she was the co-director of ReACT!, an anti-violence theatre troupe, and a member of the theatre faculty at Austin Community College.
“As an applied theatre artist, Shavonne centers inclusivity, justice, trauma-informed practice, and community engagement,” said Tiffany Trent, chair and associate professor of the Department of Theatre & Drama. “Her gifts of pedagogy make her an excellent translator across academic, community, and justice-based contexts, and her record of bridge-building will help our curricular and co-curricular offerings grow in civic engagement.”
Coleman has used her passion and deep belief in the power of theatre as a catalyst for social change toward interpersonal violence prevention and educational development. As the assistant director of acting at Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, she directed Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry and The Incredible Jungle Journey of Fenda Maria, while also participating in acting coaching and college access activities with ensemble members, implementing art integration partnerships, and developing their Mosaic Empowerment Experience Project with multiple middle schools in Detroit. While working toward her MFA, she directed a youth theatre performance of Too Many Frogs! at the Zoom Theatre in Seoul, South Korea.
“Theatre and drama are not only capable of changing people but transforming lives and our collective well-being. I am honored to be a small piece of the many transformative works and ideas that root, grow, and propagate from such a prestigious institution,” said Coleman. “I am excited to join this community and continue my own journey of growth, learning, and creation of arts that will cultivate cultural shifts in our world.”
Coleman received the Emerging Leadership in TYA Fellowship to research the historical impact of people of color in the field of children/youth theatre from Theatre for Young Audiences (USA/ ASSITEJ), the Teaching Innovation Grant and President’s Staff Award from the University of Texas at Austin, and the Anne K. Flagg Multicultural Award (AATE). She is a board member for CTFA (Children’s Theatre Foundation of America). Upcoming work includes a commission by Seattle Children’s Theatre to adapt Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, which will go into its first development phase at the New Harmony Project’s 2023 Conference.
Coleman received a BA in theatre from Grand Valley State University and an MFA from Eastern Michigan University for applied drama/theatre for the young.