Saint Louis University
Nancy Bell

Associate Professor of Theatre and Voice and Speech

courses taught: Acting 1, Acting 2, Voice and Speech for the Theatre, Dialects, Beginning Shakespeare, Advanced Shakespeare
phone: (314) 977-3390
office hours: (Fall 2014) Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:00-11:00 AM or by appointment.
my thoughts:
“The longing for knowledge makes the real artist brave.” Michael Chekhov

Member of the
SLU community
since 2010
Degree: BFA
State University of New York at Purchase
Degree: MFA
California State University- Long Beach
ACTING (Theatre): Manhattan Theatre Club, New York Theatre Workshop, Ensemble Studio Theatre, South Coast Repertory, The Old Globe, Geffen Playhouse, McCarter Theatre, Dallas Theatre Center, Hartford Stage, Berkeley Stage, ACT Seattle, Baltimore Center Stage, Georgia Shakespeare Festival, Rep Theatre of St. Louis, New Jewish Theatre, Papermill Playhouse, and many others. (Television): The Medium, Numbers, Star Trek Voyager, Huff, Mad about You, Guiding Light, Bold and the Beautiful, Huff, Law and Order:SVU, Law and Order, Newsradio, Payne, others PLAYWRITING: Resident Playwright, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. Work produced at Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, Bristol Riverside Theatre, St. Louis Actors Studio, MadLab Columbus DIRECTING: At SLU, Blithe Spirit, OTMA, Wonder of the World, Playhouse Creatures.
Honors and 
Outstanding Creative Achievement in Graduate School, College of the Arts, California State University,Long Beach, 2010.St. Louis Theatre Circle Awards for Best Actress in a Drama 2012, Outstanding Playwriting, 2013, Winner of LaBute New Play Festival, 2013, Finalist for Next Generation Playwriting Prize, 2012. Ovation Award (LA), LA Weekly Theatre Award, nominated for LA Drama Critics Circle Award.
Acting, Shakespeare and other heightened text, community-based playwriting and social practice theatre, Knight-Thompson Speechwork, dialects, accents and character voices.
Narrative: Artist Statement: I am an actor, playwright, and director with particular interests in poetic language, highly theatrical staging and stylized performance techniques. As an artist, I want to explore themes of social justice, power, and environmental crisis through the exploration of everyday human interaction. As a professional actor of more than twenty years, I have worked most often on stylized theatrical texts. Most of my roles have been ones that require technical proficiency in voice, speech, dialects or movement. I specialize in roles that require intelligence, wit and humor. Much of my acting work has been classical, including Moliere, Shaw, Shakespeare, and Ionesco. But I’ve often worked with playwrights on new plays, as well. As a playwright myself, I write about power, both political and personal. I want to explore options for social change and global salvation by examining individual relationships and dynamics. As the resident playwright at Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, I write contemporary adaptations of Shakespeare based on original research conducted in diverse St. Louis neighborhoods. Each play requires a year of research, interviews and outreach in a specific neighborhood in our city. I use a free-wheeling mix of contemporary and Shakespearean language that paints a unique portrait of a part of our city. Some themes that appear again and again in this work are the impact of gentrification, the challenges of living with The Other, and, always, the great American struggle with race. Writing these unique plays—and seeing them produced—has profoundly affected me as an artist. It has been for me, among other things, a personal journey of confronting my own white privilege and racism. Most importantly, it has made me unafraid to speak defiantly and optimistically about the necessity of Love in civic life. My full-length play, Venus, is about an American marine in Iraq who marries his Iraqi translator and brings her home to start life in America. Their relationship doesn’t survive outside the war zone, and their story serves to illustrate the ways in which power dynamics between people can be radically changed by historical, geographical, and political contexts. I am currently researching a play based on Axis Sally, an American-born Nazi propagandist who was convicted of treason shortly after World War Two. In her story, I see the consequences of thwarted ambition and personal loneliness tragically exploited by socio-­‐political forces in crisis. We are living in desperate times. We are faced with global political instability and catastrophic, possibly irreversible climate change. As I say to my voice and speech students, human language exists for the purpose of human survival. Art does, too. We actors and storytellers hold an important secret, one we must divulge: the things that seem to separate we humans are illusions. We can demonstrate the unreality of persona and narrative by deftly assuming and discarding them at will, with compassion and affection. And when we finally all agree that we share the Earth, we can set about saving it, and ourselves.
Higher purpose. Greater good.
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