Former Artistic Director of Vanguard Repertory Company in Los Angeles/Atlanta, Co-founder of the Windmill Arts Center, and faculty at Mt. San Antonio College, Matthew's work and travel has taken him all across the continental U.S. as well as Europe and Southeast Asia. A critically acclaimed director, designer, and playwright, Matthew spends a majority of his time developing new work - searching for ways to give voice to underrepresented demographics while implementing unique physical techniques for visual storytelling.
Degree / Awards:
Master of Fine Arts Degree with an emphasis in directing from Florida State University
Bachelor's Degree with a major in performance and minor in design from the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
Winner of over a dozen StageSceneLA awards for the La Cañada Flintridge Shakespeare Festival
Multiple regional and national Kennedy Center / ACTF awards for acting and directing
Visiting Playwright Residency recipient for the Playwright's Initiative at Endstation Theatre Company.
Tenured professor at Mt. San Antonio College
Winner of the 2014 Developmental Educator of the Year Award
Best of ATL award for Windmill Arts Center (co-founder)
It's a fascinating time to be a working artist and educator. There are pressing global issues which overwhelm our thoughts and seem to cause a growing urgency to answer fundamental questions of priority and purpose.
So, in the wake of all this, where does live storytelling come into play?
I believe, in a most essential way, that this very moment in our social and even physiological evolution requires live storytelling more than any other time. The empathy and understanding gained from telling one another our stories and exploring the mediums / methods of communication are vital to our happiness and survival. As connected as everyone seems to be, it's incredible how insular our own little tunnels of existence have become with everything tailored to our individual interests. So, as a result, I feel compelled to search for and attempt to tell any stories I uncover so that I might share my perspective and develop others' -- hopefully expanding an audience's perspective in the process. This has led me to primarily focus on new works and adaptations - particularly of culturally specific communities. I believe in theatre not as an island unto itself -- with theatre practitioners creating and performing works for themselves -- but as an inclusive, communal experience for everyone. That doesn't mean catering to an audience, but simply keeping them first and foremost as the focus -- challenging them and keeping them in the conversation. Keeping the audience engaged requires powerful visual storytelling so that the narrative, message or idea might be shared beyond educational, social or demographic boundaries.
I am a student and always will be. And that curiosity is something I strive to pass on to my own students within the classroom. Often times, instructors at all levels become disheartened by students' lack of education or motivation -- with good reason. Education is often under-appreciated and mentally taxing beyond its immediate rewards. Understanding these truths to be relatively constant, I do my best to prioritize keeping my learning environment energized and focused. It's not just about using technology and listening to what the students want in order to stay engaged. It's about keeping one's own passions engaged as an instructor. I take pride in evolving each semester, each class to keep myself excited about the material -- asking new questions and traveling new paths.
Besides working to keep students engaged, I also believe in practical application -- especially in the arts. Many of my classes are structured in order to illustrate an idea, then create real-world scenarios based on my professional experience in which the students can apply the new concept. While the classroom is a place to absorb information, I also believe that the process of experimentation and failure is fundamental in gaining a useful synthesis of learned ideas.