Tom Dugdale

Assistant Professor, Tenure-Track Faculty
Department of Theater



I am a director, writer, and musician working in theatre, opera, and film with a focus on creating new interdisciplinary works of performance. I try to avoid illusions of reality, preferring instead to work in empty spaces, found spaces, or installation environments. I want to prioritize the full human (body + mind) power of the performer. I celebrate performance as a live act that reveals, rather than masks, its mechanics. For me, performance is inherently interdisciplinary, a clearing in the wood where all art may emerge, mingle, and play. I am particularly invested in contemporary Romanian theatre, having directed many productions for Romanian state theaters since 2010. I make experimental, frequently site-specific, projects with THE TRIP, a laboratory-ensemble I founded in San Diego in 2012. An emerging interest of mine at OSU is the intersection of performance and “formidable mentalities”—anxiety, obsession, addiction. How can performance increase our capacity to generously embody and empathize with these—and to broadcast such generosity out into our communities?

Q & A

What makes more livable futures for you?  

Continued investment in feeling, passion, response, empathy, sensitivity, awareness, aliveness, being moved. Kindness and listening. Preservation of real face-to-face interaction, conversation, and laughter. Opportunities to eat and sing together. Unimpeded international exchange and partnership. Redirecting resources towards creation rather than decoration. A reconceptualization of space as shared rather than owned, and a return to art as essential rather than elective.

What are you reading, viewing, listening to right now?    

Powerful recent responses to Mikalene Thomas’s gorgeous show at the Wex and all the playful misbehaviors of Bruce Naumann’s retrospective at MoMA; Verdensteatret’s Hannah was ticklish and sad, a satire of now as much as a vision of where we’re inexorably headed; Faye Driscoll’s work-in-progress blew my mind for being all in despite not knowing; Gabrielle Kahane’s album, Book of Travelers; the boygenius album, which I’ve worn a hole through; Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War made me weep like I haven’t wept in a long time (that scene at the end in the cathedral?!); Madeline’s Madeline, for using film to help us into a tumultuous mind; Carol Martin’s Theatre of the Real, which gets us back to honesty in the theatre.  

What practices are sustaining you?  

I run 5 miles a day, hear all the live music I can, bake bread, and FaceTime as much as possible with my amazing niece in New York City. She isn’t talking yet, so the conversations are a tad one-sided, but her understanding of sound and gesture is already extraordinary!