ABOUT ME

Career

I am a theatre artist and educator with many years experience in directing, performance, writing (playwriting and scholarship), editing, and arts management, both in academic and non-academic settings.

 

I am currently enjoying research opportunities through the Ohio State University and its Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute. I will be completing my fellowship and graduating in Spring, 2020, having earned a PhD in Theatre, along with a concurrent MA from the Germanic Literatures and Languages--Yiddish and Ashkenazic Studies Program, and a G.I.S. (Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization) in Disability Studies.

 

Prior to OSU, I had taught at the undergraduate level continuously since 2008. Most recently, I had served as the Director of Theatre Programming at Cowley County Community College in Arkansas City, Kansas (teaching and administration position); before that, as an adjunct Writing and Literature instructor specializing in theatre at Chester College of New England and as a Graduate Instructor at Baylor University. I remain in good standing with my supervisors at each of these institutions, and remain especially proud of my time at Baylor, where I received commendations for my high teaching evaluation scores, including twice being nominated for the university's annual Graduate Instructor award.

Although I work in many areas of theatre production, my passion is in directing. I have directed well over 50 productions since 1997 in professional, amateur, and academic settings. A few favorite directing credits include Shipwrecked: An Entertainment and A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts at Baylor University, Richard III and One Flea Spare with Ghostlight Theater Co., Les Miserables and Playing Hamlet with Riverbend Youth Company, Dear Harvey at Chester College, La Serva Padrona and Der Schauspieldirektor for the Central Texas Opera Festival, and the world premiere of Void at Boston Playwright's Theatre. 

 

Meanwhile, I have presented research and scholarship on contemporary directing, theatrical copyright law, disability theatre, contemporary operatic staging practices, and performance for social change at several academic conferences around the country. I am the editor of an upcoming critical collection of plays on the intersection of stage performance and disability (name t.b.a., McFarland Publishing), co-editor of Seven Deadly Sins: a collection of new plays (Ghostlight Publishing), the co-editor of Texas Theatre Journal (published annually by the Texas Educational Theatre Association), former chair of the Armitage Symposium (including editor of the proceedings journal, Lovecraftian Proceedings, Hippocampus Press), and serve on the Excellence in Editing awards committee for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. My writing has been published by McFarland Press, Green Light Press, JacNEED Publishing, and Stage Directions magazine, and my original plays have been performed in NYC, Boston, and at a number of regional and educational theatres in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Kansas, and Texas.

 

As a scholar, my work has become more and more targeted and specialized, focusing strongly on disability portrayal/accessibility issues and on Yiddish and Yinglish-language theatre. Meanwhile, while I love upper level seminars, there's a big part of my heart that forever remains locked into "bringing people under the tent"-style introductory courses. There is little that I enjoy as much as seeing a business major realize how applicable Commedia dell'Arte busking techniques are to marketing philosophy; a criminal justice, law, or gender studies student react to reading Glaspell's "Trifles"; or a video game design student recognize how immensely helpful a lighting or scenic painting course can be to their career goals. Although I obviously care deeply for the fourth-year major devoting their life and career to theatre, I have a decade-long softspot and adoration for the non-major who wanders into our building.

Life and Family

As the son of an refugee and career military father, my earliest years were spent living on military bases in New Jersey, Florida, Massachusetts, and Hawai'i. My teens and early adult years were spent in multiple locations around New England, and my career has given me the opportunity to live in Texas, Kansas, and now Ohio. Between this and my experiences spending time overseas, I've come to appreciate just how much one country, one state, one city, or even one neighborhood can instill entirely different cultural assumptions, values, and biases from its nearest neighbor -- a fact which is equal parts volatile and gloriously beautiful. I am grateful that each place has left its mark on me for the better.

Today, I live in Columbus, OH with my wonderful wife, Mariah (seen in the photos on the left, both sticking her tongue out in a wedding photo (bottom) and, importantly, giving me the "why are you the way you are?" look that she often does (2nd picture from the top). I strongly believe that once she sees I've included the semi-tongue-in-cheek pretentious skull photo (top), she'll be giving me exactly that look, hence the photo's placement.

 

Our mixed-faith (and mixed Hogwarts House) home includes our bold and brilliant six-year-old daughter (Matilda), our hilarious and headstrong four-year-old son (Ollivander), and our two high-maintanance cats (Mr. Man and Mr. Meowgi).

 

I enjoy neighborhood and forest walks, horror, most-things-NPR-ish, Yiddish memes, and a nice, airy coconut sorbet.

 

Seeking Assistant or Associate Professorship Openings for Fall, 2020

 

A.B.D. as of January, 2019, with two terminal degrees in theatre (MFA in Directing, PhD in Hist/Lit/Crit), as well as graduate credentials in Disability Studies and Yiddish/Ashkenazic Studies, I am hopeful my resume will suggest suitability to a wide range of potential educational positions. In terms of departmental and institutional personalities, I have taught in private and public settings; in tiny studios and huge lecture halls; I have taught in the North, the South, and in-between; I have taught in religious and secular settings; I have taught at institutions having their hay day, and institutions facing crises; I have taught at one of the largest universities in the country (Ohio State, with over 40k undergrads) and one of the smallest (Chester College, with a total enrollment of 200 students); I have taught at a nationally ranked research university, and I have taught at a rural community college.
I can honestly say, I have loved them all.

 

I'm looking for a space of balance -- an institution in which I can teach and work directly with students, but without taking on a course load that precludes any other work; an institution that values and supports research, but not so much that it ignores its fundamental mission of teaching; an institution where I can expect to direct now and then, without personally churning out the entire season. I am looking, I suppose, for what most theatre academics are looking for: a place where they can read, they can write, they can teach, and they can create. Any institution (U.S.-based or not) that can offer that is an institution with whom I'm extremely eager to speak.

CONTACT

 

 

johnsefel@gmail.com

Tel: 603-930-1043

 

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© 2018 by John Michael Sefel. This website features photography by Jarod Tseng Photography, Kat Alee Photography, Brandi Sees Photography, and Andrea Stasio.

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