Jan Akers (on leave 2018-19)
Janice Akers is a Senior Lecturer on the Theater Studies faculty and former artistic director (2012-17) for Theater Emory. Ms. Akers teaches acting and directing as well as special topics courses co-taught in the dance program. She is a co-developer of the Breaking Ground Series, a laboratory for students, faculty, alumni and community artists to explore new ideas in theater in a creative, experimental environment. In 2016, she was awarded the Emory University Faculty Award by the Center for Creativity and Arts. This award was given “for the broad impact and far reaching scope of her vision as Artistic Director of Theater Emory, as well as her tireless advocacy on behalf of Theater at Emory.” She is the recipient of two Crystal Apple Awards for teaching: the 2007 Excellence in Performing Arts Education award and the 2008 Undergraduate Seminar award. She also received the 2005 and 2011 Fine Award, “voted by Theater Studies majors and minors for a faculty member who has influenced the growth of his or her students.” She is a resident actor/director with Theater Emory, the professional theater on the Emory campus. Ms. Akers has developed original plays/adaptations for Theater Emory and directed works by Shakespeare, Ibsen, Strindberg, Odon von Horvath, Ellen McLaughlin and Sam Shepard. Most recently, Ms. Akers directed an all-female version of Shakespeare’s As You Like It and I AM A MOON by Shanghai playwright, Zhu Yi. She has been in the acting profession for over 35 years, performing over a dozen roles in Theater Emory productions and staged readings and performing in 75 productions in companies in California, Ohio, as well as in Chicago and Atlanta. She was an Associate Artist with the Georgia Shakespeare Festival, performing 20 roles over eight seasons and directing Love’s Labour’s Lost in the 2010 summer season. In 2002, she performed at the Centre Dramatique de Bretagne in Lorient, La Comédie de Clermont-Ferrand, and the Maison des Arts et de la Culture in Paris. In the summer of 2006, Ms. Akers performed with the French company of Arthur Nauzyciel at the Avignon Festival in France and the Athens Theater Festival in Greece. She also performed at the Centre Dramatique/Loiret in Orleans in 2008 and the Theatre de Singel in Antwerp, Belgium in 2009.
As Artistic Director for Theater Emory, Ms. Akers focused on bringing more culturally diverse perspectives in the programming and providing opportunities for faculty, artists and alumni to create original work. Global Voices was produced in the winter of 2015, a staged reading series of 15 plays in 3 weeks that examined the work of African-American, Native American, Latina, South Asian, Asian and Middle Eastern playwrights. The 2014-15 Theater Emory season presented Pinter Fest, a semester-long investigation of British Playwright Harold Pinter through several staged readings and two Pinter productions, Pinter Revue and A Pinter Kaleidoscope, both directed by Theater faculty. The final project of 2015 was a full production of Jose Rivera’s Marisol. Mr. Rivera was a guest artist during this production, visiting classes, participating in a Creativity Conversation and a post-show audience discussion. The 2016-17 season celebrated Shakespeare in tandem with the exhibit of the First Folio on the Emory campus: a classical Romeo and Juliet, a musical, Boys from Syracuse, a reading of Aimé Cesaire’s A Tempest and an original work, Ravished, based on contemporary hip hop culture and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, created and directed by two Emory alumni.