Franchelle Stewart Dorn has engaged audiences through live performances, teaching, producing and artistic directing ever since she received her Master of Fine Arts in acting from the Yale University School of Drama. She will speak about her wide-ranging experience on stage and behind the scenes as the first Elizabeth K. Doenges Artist/Scholar in the performing arts.
Dorn’s career as the leading actress at the Shakespeare Theatre Company and a member of the Arena Stage company, both in Washington DC, spanned 20 years and included numerous stage roles, such as Bessie Burgess in The Plough and the Stars, Claire Zachanassian in The Visit, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra, Gertrude in Hamlet, Christine in Mourning Becomes Electra, and Emilia in Othello.
“Shakespeare has spoiled me for almost every other playwright on the planet … living or dead,” said Dorn, about her preference for the Bard on the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s blog.
She has recently played the role of Lena Younger in a 2009 production of A Raisin in the Sun at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis (pictured at left), and returned to the Shakespeare Theatre Company in 2011 in the role of the Queen in Cymbeline (pictured on the front page of Mary Baldwin News). In addition to acting on the stage, Dorn has appeared in films, such as The Pelican Brief and Die Hard with a Vengeance, and television shows, such as Another World and Law and Order. She has also narrated several PBS series and performed hundreds of voice-overs.
The Helen Hayes Awards Foundation — which recognizes excellence in professional theater in the Washington DC area since 1983 — has honored Dorn with seven nominations and three awards. She has also twice won the Austin Critics’ Circle Award for Best Actress in a Drama.
Dorn is currently the Virginia L. Murchison Regents professor in the department of theatre and dance, and the head of the acting program at the University of Texas at Austin.
“Although this is my first full-time academic job, I have been teaching for 30 years at various institutions,” she noted in the Shakespeare Theatre’s blog. “It is exciting to see if I can translate what I actually do on stage to the studio/classroom … Because they [students] have less experience, they also have fewer hang-ups about the craft and can find innovative interpretations of text and staging that are always refreshing. I steal from them whenever I can. For me, acting and teaching have always gone hand in hand.”
During her visit to Mary Baldwin October 26– 28, Dorn will attend classes and meet with students, as well as give a public lecture on October 27 at 5:30 in the Blackfriars Theatre.
The Elizabeth Kirkpatrick Doenges Visiting Artist/Scholar program brings distinguished professionals and scholars to campus, providing learning opportunities for the college and the community. The program was created by friends and family of Elizabeth K. “Liddy” Doenges ’63.