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  • Faculty

  • Zishan Ugurlu

    Professor of Theater; Program Director and Departmental Faculty Advisor (fall '22) for Theater

    Email
    ugurluz@newschool.edu

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    Zishan Ugurlu

    Profile

    Office hours: Monday/Wednesday: After 4pm and by appointment. Location: 65 West 11th Street, Room 257

    About Zishan (Zisan) Ugurlu:
    Zishan (Zisan) Ugurlu has worked extensively both in New York and abroad as a theater artist since 1995. She is an actor and director-in- residence at La MaMa Theater. Zishan was invited to New York City from Istanbul by Ellen Stewart (former artistic director of La MaMa theater) to be a member of Great Jones Repertory Company. Through Ellen Stewart / La MaMa, Zishan obtained her Green Card followed by her citizenship. She holds two MFA degrees: one  from Mimar Sinan University in Istanbul, Turkey, where she completed a directing thesis in “Staging Concepts of Raymond Queneau’s Exercices De Style” under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Cevat Capan; Columbia University, completing an Acting Thesis Production, a devised theater piece Godard-Distant and Right under the direction of Robert Woodruff. Zishan holds a Ph.D from Ankara University, exploring “The Importance of the Play as a Cultural Concept” discussing the importance of the play element of culture and society. Her Ph.D was completed under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Sevda Sener and Prof. Dr. Metin And.

    After teaching at Wesleyan University and Trinity College, she has  been teaching at Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts since 2004.

    Zishan has performed in numerous notable productions with the Great Jones Repertory, including Panorama (2018) directed by Italian theater company Motus (led by Daniela Nicolò and Enrico Casagrande) which was selected to be part of "The Under the Radar Festival." The production was nominated for an Ubu Award for Best Direction as well as Outstanding Innovative Design and Outstanding Performance Art Production for the New York Innovative Theater Awards. Panorama was presented in several cities and festivals in Italy and across Europe: Ghent- Belgium, Barcelona-Spain, Innsbruck- Austria, and Berlin, Germany. She has also acted in The Trojan Women, (Helen) directed by Andrei Serban and composed by Elizabeth Swados; the production toured internationally across Asia and Europe. She played Carmen in Robert Wooduff’s award winning Godard-Distant and Right (2000) which was awarded as The Best Production in the Nanterre Theatre Festival in Paris. Zishan has worked closely with directors including Jay Schieb as Monique in Koltes' West Pier (2003), Medea in Müller's Medea, (2008) and Betina in Veronese's Woman Dreamt Horses (2006). Solo performance credits include the world premiere of Fo's Peasants Bible, (2002) Alighieri's Dante (2003) and Watanabe's Antigone (2007). Zishan also gave a Turkish musical concert in 2002 titled as Musica Alla Turca.

    Zishan's directing career has spanned over more than two decades across several countries. She  recently directed Fragments, Lists, and Lacunae (2020) written by Alexandra Chasin, featuring philosopher Judith Butler as a performer; the production was presented at New York Live Arts.  She is the founding artistic director of “Actors without Borders-ITONY.” It is an ensemble-based theater company with a commitment to introduce well known and highly regarded but rarely produced national and international playwrights to American audiences. Her recent directing credits include: The Franca Rame Project (2019) by Dario Fo and Franca Rame, Agamemnon - in Greek (2016) by Aeschylus, Measure for Measure  (2015) by William Shakespeare - in Turkish, She Talks to Beethoven by Adrienne Kennedy, (2015) π-ROJECT  (2012) - in Greek based on The Persians by Aeschylus,  Purge  (2011) by Sofi Oksanen,  Kebap - Mady Baby.edu (in Turkish) by Gianina Carbunariu, Baghdadi Bath-in Arabic (2013) by Jawad Al Assadi, The Father (2008) by August Strindberg, The Last Supper  (2004) by Lars Norèn, Operetta (2005)  by Witold Gombrowicz, Until the Next Whirl  (1995) by Rumi, Watershed  (1996) by Tom Soper and Serious At All  (1998) by Tom Soper.

    Zishan's particular affinity and fascination in the genre of Solo Performance has led her to direct a multitude of performances presented at United Solo Festival in New York. She was awarded “Best Direction” for Yu Ling Wu’s  Dream American, (2018) Harlem Blooms in Spring by Jersten Seraile, Race Free by Maria Mukuka, In the Storm of Pleasure (2014) by Daniel Benhamu ( Winner of Best Debut Award). Zishan has also directed other solo performances for different venues: The Surrender  (2014) by Toni Bentley at  The Clurman Theater, (Theater Row), Oysters, Orgasms, and Obituaries (2011) by Raina von Waldenburg (Nominated for New York Innovative Theater Award for Outstanding Solo Performance at La MaMa) and Request Program (2005) by F. X. Kroetz at La MaMa. She was selected to have an honored Membership at United Solo Academy on the heels of her successes.

    Zishan leads Lang Prison Initiative Reading Group supported by Lang's Civic Engagement and Social Justice Office related to the Prison Abolition movement. She has been teaching in prisons since 2008 and her upcoming project Music Room will be featuring formerly incarcerated individuals. Zishan was awarded with the 2020 Gramsci International Prize for Theater in Prison by INTIP (UNESCO Partner). 

    She has also worked as a science fellow at Ligo Project working with Dan McCloskey Lab. Zishan has been inclined to expand her knowledge in neuroscience and was creating theater courses integreating Neuroscience.

    Zishan teaches a range of theater classes including: Fundamentals of Acting, Scene Study, Creating Solo Performance, Monologue Workshop for Auditions, Acting for the Camera, Scene Lab: Epic Theater, Introduction to Directing and Post-Modern Directing. Each of her courses are designed to explore a range of scientific and socio-political issues.

    Zishan firmly believes in Andrei Tarkovsky's wisdom:

    “An artistic discovery occurs each time as a new and unique image of the world, a hieroglyphic of absolute truth. It appears as revelation, as a momentary, passionate wish to grasp intuitively and at a stroke all the laws of this world-its beauty and ugliness, its compassion and cruelty, its infinity and its limitations.”


    Degrees Held

    MFA: Columbia University School of the Arts, New York Completed Acting Thesis Production under the direction of Robert Woodruff - 2000  

    Ph.D: Theater Department of Ankara University, Turkey Completed Dissertation: “The Importance of the Play as a Cultural Concept” under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Sevda Sener and Prof. Dr. Metin And - 1996  

    MFA: Theater Department of Istanbul Mimar Sinan University, Turkey Completed Directing Thesis “Staging Concepts of Raymond Queneau’s Exercices De Style” under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Cevat Capan - 1985  

    BA: Theater Department of Ankara University, Turkey Completed thesis “Aziz Nesin’s Plays and Structuralism” under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Aysegul Yuksel - Summa Cum Laude - 1983


    Professional Affiliation

    • Actors Equity (2000 - Present)
    • Screen Actors Guild (SAG Eligable)
    • Actor and Director-in-Residence at La MaMa E.T.C. (1992 - Present)
    • Artistic Director of Actors Without Borders-ITONY (2004 - Present)
    • Artistic Director of Eugene Lang Productions (2004 - 2011)
    • Curator of The Gallery at Marmara-Manhattan (2000-2010)

    Performances and Appearances

    SELECTED ACTING CREDITS:

    • Brontsoski in The Whore From Ohio - Written by Hanoch Levin. Directed by Victor and Geyula Attar
    • Saudade in Case B - Written and directed by Kameron Steele
    • Caliban in The Tempest  - Written by William Shakespeare. Adapted and directed by Nyoman Catra and Ron Jenkins, composed by Desak Suartilaksmi
    • Drapaudi in Draupadi - Conceived and directed by Ellen Stewart. Performed with members of Kerela Team of Kathakali Artists
    • Ayline in Dead Tech / The Master Builder - Written by Henrik Ibsen. Directed by Kristin Marting
    • Cavale in Cowboy Mouth - Written by Sam Shepard. Directed by Lee Hyunjung
    • Laura in In Transit - Written by Denise Bonal. Directed by Françoise Kourilsky
    • Mother in A Dream Play - August Strindberg. Directed by Sonoko Kawahara
    • Iocaste in Oedipus Rex - Written by Sophocles. Directed by Ellen Stewart
    • Yunus Wife in Yunus - Conceived and directed by Ellen Stewart

    FILM ACCOLADES:

    • Principal Actor in feature film The Letter, with Tarik Akan (apart of the Cannes Film Festival, Calcutta Film Festival, and Argentina Film Festival)
    • Featured in the film Dog Race presented at International Film Festival
    • Zishan Ugurlu: A Turkish Actor in the U.S.A, (documentary) CNN Turkey

    THE NEW SCHOOL, EUGENE LANG,STUDENT PRODUCTIONS - DIRECTING:

    • Hoppla, We’re Alive! by Ernst Toller (2019)
    • The Mom, The Dad, & The Holy Spirit by Yu Ling Wu, Joshua Laclé & Aliyah Hakim (2018)
    • Not About Nightingales by Tennessee Williams (2016)
    • Elegant Degradation based on Charles Mee’s Orestes 2.0 (2014)
    • Marathon Dancing: Letters to Wall Street in the Era of Wonderful Nonsense based on They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? by Horace McCoy (2014)
    • The Judith of Shimoda by Bertolt Brecht (2012)
    • The Law of Remains by Reza Abdoh (2011)
    • The Realm of Darkness by Leo Tolstoy (2010)
    • Temptation by Vaclav Havel (2008)
    • Blood on the Cat’s Neck by Rainer W. Fassbinder (2007)
    • Operetta by Witold Gombrowicz (2006)
    • Big Love by Charles Mee. (2004)

    PUBLIC PROGRAMS CREATED FOR THE NEW SCHOOL:

    • Underground by Lisa B. Thompson; Staged Reading at La MaMa Theater (2022)
    • Gridlock - Prison to Purpose II: Digital Performance, written by Johnny L Ward, directed by Zishan Ugurlu. Excerpts from an anthology exploring the conditions of Texan Prisons (2021)
    • Understanding Black Lives Matter Movement: Digital Event, presented by Frank Leon Roberts, hosted by Zishan Ugurlu (2021)
    • Alumni 360 Fireside Chat: Digital Event: Lang Alumni hosted by their faculty; hosted by Zishan Ugurlu and alum Yu Ling Wu. (2021)
    • The Death of Truth / Truth Has Died - Digital Performance: Directed and Adapted by Zishan Ugurlu; Adapted by Jake Lavin (2020)
    • Hoppla! We're Alive! Fragments from the play - Directed and Designed by Zishan Ugurlu and written by Ernst Toller for the New School Centenerary. (2019)
    • The Film Club- Staged Reading: Directed and Designed by Zishan Ugurlu, written by Adrienne Kennedy. The event was honouring Adrienne Kennedy. (2015)
    • A Movie Star Has to Star in Black and White - Staged Reading: Directed and Designed by Zishan Ugurlu, written by Adrienne Kennedy. The event was honouring Adrienne Kennedy. (2015)
    • Short Eyes - Staged Reading: Directed by Zishan Ugurlu and Written by Miguel Pinero, Performed by formerly incarcerated individuals (2014)
    • What a Stranger May Know - Installation Performance: Directed by Zishan Ugurlu, Written by Eric Ehn. The project was dedicated to the victims and families of the Virginia Tech Shooting. (2012)
    • The Osiander Project Preface- Staged Reading: Directed by Zishan Ugurlu, Written by Geoffrey Paul Gordon and David Morgan (2008)
    • Oxygen- Staged Reading: Directed by Zishan Ugurlu, Written by Carl Djerassi and Roald Hoffmann- Nobel Laureate.
    • Anna in the Tropics - Staged Reading: Directed by Zishan Ugurlu, Written by Nilo Cruz (2008)

    COMISSIONED STUDENT PRODUCTIONS - DIRECTING:

    • Atin Ölumu Arpadan Olsun (2022, Bahcesehir University, Istanbul)
    • Marathon Dancing: Letters to Wall Street in the Era of Wonderful Nonsense based on They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? by Horace McCoy (2015, Rutgers University 250th anniversary)
    • Black Market- Zaman-e (2010, Bilgi Univeristy, Istabul)
    • Seven Jewish Children by Caryl Churchill (2009, Kadir Has University, Istanbul)
    • Blood Wedding by Federico G. Lorca (2004, Trinity College, Hartford CT)

     


    Research Interests

    • To explore the symbiotic relationship between the arts and sciences through the creation of a new theatrical vocabulary.
    • Neuroscience, architecture, film.

     


    Awards And Honors

    • 2020 Gramsci International Prize for Theater in Prison -  ITIP UNESCO partner (Awarded yearly to individuals)
    • Tony Award Regional Theatre for La MaMa Theater (Resident Actor and Director)
    • Best Peformance award at Nisville Jazz Theater Festival for Balkan Bordello (Dramaturg)
    • Honored Membership at United Solo Academy
    • Ubu Award Nomination for Panorama in Best Direction (Performer)
    • Nominations for Outstanding Innovative Design and Outstanding Performance Art Production for Panorama for the New York Innovative Theater Awards. (Performer)
    • Nomination for Outstanding Solo Performance for Oysters, Orgasms and Obituaries for the New York Innovative Theater Awards (Director)
    • Best Direction for Dream American for United Solo Performance Festival (Director)
    • Best Debut Award for Storm in Pleasure for United Solo Performance Festival (Director)
    • Audience Award for Best Play Kebap, Radical Newspaper (Director)
    • Martin Scorsese Award, for acting in the film Dog Race (Actor)
    • Grand Marnier and W. Johnson Awards at the New York Film Festival, for acting in the film Dog Race. (Actor)
    • Fox Foundation Fellowship, Theater Communication Group (TCG) (Fellowship)

    Current Courses

    Acting for the Camera
    LTHR 2053, Fall 2022

    Ind Senior Project
    LINA 4990, Fall 2022

    Independent Study
    LTHR 3950, Fall 2022

    Intro to Directing
    LTHR 2025, Fall 2022

    LPI Reading Group
    LNGC 2030, Fall 2022

    Scene Study: Political Plays
    LTHR 2600, Fall 2022

    Future Courses

    Ind Senior Project
    LINA 4990, Spring 2023

    Independent Study
    LTHR 3950, Spring 2023

    Past Courses

    Acting for the Camera
    LTHR 2053, Spring 2022

    Ind Senior Project
    LINA 4990, Spring 2022

    Independent Study
    LTHR 3950, Spring 2022

    LPI Reading Group
    LNGC 2030, Spring 2022

    Scene Study: Prison Plays
    LTHR 3600, Spring 2022

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