This fall, the School of Music, Theatre & Dance will welcome Tiffany Trent as chair of the Department of Theatre & Drama. Trent is a theatre director and scholar of applied theatre, theatre for youth, and practical theology.
“Dr. Trent is a multi-disciplinary theatre artist,” shared Christianne Myers, interim chair of the department. “Her unique portfolio of scholarship and practice is an ideal fit for the Department of Theatre & Drama, a department with three different degree programs spanning theory, history, playwriting, design & production, management, acting and directing. We are all thrilled to welcome her to Michigan this fall!”
Trent’s previous leadership roles include chair and associate professor with the Department of Theatre and Dance at Middle Tennessee State University and interim director of performance programs at the University of Chicago, her undergraduate alma mater, where she also taught in theatre and performance studies for sixteen years.
Trent first embraced theatre in Chicago through new play development (MPAACT, Chicago Dramatists, ETA, Pegasus, plus Alabama Shakespeare Festival and New Harmony Project), teaching artist residencies (Goodman, Pegasus, Chicago Arts Partnership in Education, Illinois Humanities), and understudying (Victory Gardens, Court Theatre). She remains rooted in Chicago and specifically in the Woodlawn community as board president for Definition Theatre Company. Service affiliations for Trent have included the American Alliance for Theatre & Education, the inaugural NOURISH cohort with Goodman Theatre and the Center for Performance and Civic Practice, and Youth Theatre Journal. She also reads scripts each year for the Young Playwrights Festival with Pegasus Theatre Chicago. Recent academic directing projects include Anon(ymous) by Naomi Iizuka and Ever in the Glades by Laura Schellhardt.
“I am still in awe that people come to the theatre, join an audience, and choose to view the world through someone else’s eyes. Embodying and witnessing each other’s stories is timely, is necessary, and is a collective responsibility,” Trent commented. “The Department of Theatre & Drama at the University of Michigan is training students to carry stories, and to carry them well. I find that exciting.”
Trent’s current scholarship includes a collaboration with University of Michigan professor and playwright José Casas, co-editing an anthology of African American theatre for young audiences alongside scholarship from black scholars of youth theatre. Her other current work is a chapter for the forthcoming book project In Color: Embodied Approaches to Theopoetics, co-edited by Dr. Oluwatomisin Oredein and Dr. Lakisha Lockhart. A recent publication includes a poetic work in the Journal of American Folklore.
Beyond campus and classroom, Trent has served faith-based settings and theological spaces of congregations, seminaries, and wider ecumenical interfaith initiatives through facilitating drama as part of liturgy, community engagement, and critical interpretation of scripture.
For Trent, leadership and theatre require the same ethical framework, quilting together inclusivity, imagination, integrity, collaboration, and respect. Regarding her role at SMTD, Trent shared “Through the exemplary leadership of Priscilla Lindsay and Christianne Myers, I step into a culture that is deeply rooted in excellence and deeply reflective about our shared humanity. I’m honored to help steward this space. The constellation of gifted faculty, talented students, and purposeful research situates us to live into the legacy of the program and practice producing for the future.”
Trent received her BA in politics, economics, rhetoric, and law from the University of Chicago, an MFA in directing from Carnegie Mellon, an M.Div. from Chicago Theological Seminary, and her PhD in theatre for youth at Arizona State University.