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  • Faculty

  • Zishan Ugurlu

    Associate Professor of Theater; Program Director and Departmental Advisor for Theater


    Office Location
    B - 65 West 11th Street

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    Zishan Ugurlu


    Zishan (Zisan) Ugurlu has worked extensively both in New York and abroad as a theater artist since 1995. She is an actress and director-in- residence at La MaMa Theater and the member of the Great Jones Repertory Company. She has performed in numerous productions with the company, including Panorama directed by Italian company Motus (Daniela Nicolò and Enrico Casagrande) as part of The Under the Radar Festival 2018 which was nominated for Ubu Award for the Best Direction and also nominated for Outstanding Innovative Design and Outstanding Performance Art Production for New York Innovative Theater Awards. Panorama is presented in several cities and festivals in Italy, Ghent, Belgium, Barcelona, Spain, Innsbruck, Austria, and Berlin, Germany. She has also acted in The Trojan Women, directed by Andrei Serban, composed by Elizabeth Swados, in which she toured internationally as Helen of Troy. Under the direction of Ellen Stewart she performed in Draupadi, Oedipus Rex and Yunus. She played Carmen in Robert Wooduff’s award winning Godard-Distant and Right. Other roles include, Desdomona in Othello by William Shakespeare, Monique in Bernard Marie Koltes’ West Pier, and Medea in Heiner Mueller’s The Medea. Solo performances include the world premiere of Dario Fo’s Peasants’ Bible, Dante in Dante, by Dante Alighieri, Antigone by Jose Watanabe. She is featured in the films: The Letter, which was part of the Cannes Film Festival and a short movie Dog Race presented at the International Film Festivals.

    She has recently directed Fragments, Lists, and Lacunae written by Alexandra Chasin, featuring philosopher Judith Butler, presented at New York Live Arts. Her directing credits include several solo performances presented at United Solo Festival in New York. She was recently awarded “Best Direction” for Yu Ling Wu’s solo performance Dream American, by the United Solo Festival. Harlem Blooms in Spring by Jersten Seraile, Race Free by Maria Mukuka, In the Storm of Pleasure by Daniel Benhamu (Best Debut Award). She has also directed other solo performances, The Surrender by Toni Bentley at Off-Broadway, The Clurman Theater, Oysters, Orgasms, and Obituaries by Raina von Waldenburg (Nominated for New York Innovative Theater Award for Outstanding Solo Performance) and Request Program by F. X. Kroetz at La MaMa. Her recent directing credits include Hoppla, We’re Alive! by Ernst Toller, The Franca Rame Project by Dario Fo and Franca Rame, Agamemnon (in Greek) by Aeschylus, Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare (in Turkish), Not About Nightingales by Tennessee Williams, She Talks to Beethoven by Adrienne Kennedy, Elegant Degradation based on Charles Mee’s Orestes 2.0, Marathon Dancing: Letters to Wall Street in the Era of Wonderful Nonsense based on They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? by Horace McCoy, The Judith of Shimoda by Bertolt Brecht, π-ROJECT (in Greek) based on The Persians by Aeschylus, The Law of Remains by Reza Abdoh, Purge by Sofi Oksanen, Kebap - Mady (in Turkish) by Gianina Carbunariu, The Realm of Darkness by Leo Tolstoy, Baghdadi Bath (In Arabic) by Jawad Al Assadi, The Father by August Strindberg, Temptation by Vaclav Havel, Blood on the Cat’s Neck by Rainer W. Fassbinder, The Last Supper by Lars Norèn, Operetta by Witold Gombrowicz, Until the Next Whirl by Rumi, Watershed and Serious At All by Tom Soper, Blood Wedding by Federico G. Lorca, Big Love by Charles Mee. She has also worked on devised theater pieces such as “Black Market”, “Water Therapy”. She has been teaching in prisons since 2008 and her upcoming project Music Room will be featuring formerly incarcerated individuals. She worked as a science fellow at Ligo Project working with Dan McCloskey Lab. 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. She graduated from Columbia University with a MFA degree and holds a Ph.D. She has been teaching at Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts as an Associate Professor. She is the recipient of the prestigious Fox Foundation Fellowship granted by Theater Communications Group.

    “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.” - Andrey Tarkovsky

    Zishan Ugurlu discusses teaching and learning at Lang in a project made possible with a grant from Bringing Theory to Practice.

    Degrees Held

    • PhD, Theater Department of Ankara University (Thesis on “The Importance of the Play as a Cultural Concept”);
    • MFA, Directing (Thesis on Staging Concepts of “Raymond Queneau’s Excersises De Style”);
    • MFA, Acting, Columbia University, School of Arts, Theater; 
    • BA, Theater Department of Ankara University (Thesis on “Aziz Nesin: Plays and the Structuralism”)

    Professional Affiliation

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

    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

    • Martin Scorsese Award, for acting in the film Dog Race
    • Grand Marnier and W. Johnson Awards at the New York Film Festival, for acting in the film Dog Race.
    • Fox Foundation Fellowship, Theater Communication Group (TCG)
    • Best Debut Solo Performance, The One Festival and United Solo festival at Theater Row

    Future 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

    Scene Study: Political Plays
    LTHR 2600, Fall 2022

    Past Courses

    Acting for the Camera
    LTHR 2053, Spring 2022

    Audition Monologue Workshop
    LTHR 3056, Fall 2021

    Ind Senior Project
    LTHR 4990, Fall 2021

    Ind Senior Project
    LINA 4990, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

    Independent Study
    LTHR 3950, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

    Intro to Directing
    LTHR 2025, Fall 2021

    LPI Reading Group
    LNGC 2030, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

    Scene Study: Prison Plays
    LTHR 3600, Spring 2022

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