School of Arts and Humanities News

Alumna Plays Leading Role at Shakespeare Dallas


Jenni Stewart BA’06 is associate artistic director at Shakespeare Dallas, which stages plays in an outdoor park setting and will launch indoor productions in early 2019.

Jenni Stewart BA’06 is associate artistic director at Shakespeare Dallas, which stages plays in an outdoor park setting and will launch indoor productions in early 2019.

UT Dallas graduate Jenni Stewart BA’06 enjoys playing parts and directing fellow players — particularly when performing Shakespeare.

“I think it’s the universality and also the richness of the language that keeps me continually engaged with it,” Stewart said. “I think he’s a playwright you can study forever and never unlock all of his secrets and mysteries.”

Stewart is the associate artistic director at Shakespeare Dallas — the first woman to be in a position of artistic leadership in the organization since it began 47 years ago. The group produces Shakespeare plays in an outdoor park setting and will launch indoor productions in early 2019.

As second-in-command of the Shakespeare troupe, she works with the artistic director to select plays, supervise programs and ensure excellence in each performance. She also directs some of the shows.

“We’re serving our community and trying to present the best artistic offerings we can for what we need in the moment, as well as in the future,” she said.

While attending UT Dallas, Stewart acted in a number of shows and performances, worked as an assistant with the theater program and founded a student performing arts theater group called the Rat Pack.

She worked closely with Fred Curchack, professor of drama in the School of Arts and Humanities.

“Jenni is a gem. She performed brilliantly in our UTD plays and professionally. She’s been a force of nature at Shakespeare Dallas and in the Dallas arts community for years, working with internationally significant writers, directors and actors,” Curchack said. “Now she’s directing a major production. She’s so talented, so smart and so compassionate.”

It was at UT Dallas that Stewart met Raphael Parry, the executive and artistic director of Shakespeare Dallas, who was a guest director. After graduation, she interned at Shakespeare Dallas and then quickly landed a permanent job there. She was named associate artistic director earlier this year.

Stewart said when she was a student at UT Dallas, the theater program was a dynamic environment for learning.

“It put out this generation of highly creative theater professionals who were able to work in multiple disciplines. You got to try your hand at everything,” she said. “I still collaborate with a ton of peers that I had at UTD. And they’re some of my favorite people to work with.”

At the same time, current UT Dallas theater students often serve as interns for Shakespeare Dallas and, according to Stewart, are working out well.

“UT Dallas is probably more well-known for its STEM schools and training, but it obviously is putting out some good people from arts and humanities as well,” she said.

This article originally appeared on the UT Dallas News Center.