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Packer In Spotlight as Monan Professor

Tina Packer teaching a Shakespeare theater class recently in Bonn Studio. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

By Office of News & Public Affairs |

Published: Oct. 16, 2014

Award-winning stage director and arts leader Tina Packer – one of the country’s foremost Shakespeare experts – has joined the Theatre Department this academic year as the Rev. J. Donald Monan, SJ, Professor in Theatre Arts.

Packer is founding artistic director of Shakespeare & Company, one of the largest and most critically acclaimed Shakespeare festivals in North America, which she established in 1978 with the goal of creating a sustainable and vital program of performance, training and education of the highest standard that holds language as the center of the theatrical experience.

“Tina Packer is a wonderful choice for this year’s Monan professorship. Having seen her work as a director, actor, teacher and speaker over a 30-year span, I can attest that she will inspire our students, indeed the entire Boston College community, and challenge us to look at the art of theater in fresh and provocative ways,” says Theatre Department Assistant Professor of the Practice Patricia Riggin.
“She is a real ‘renaissance woman’ who has explored the world of Shakespeare not only as an artist but also as a feminist, an historian, and a businesswoman.”

Through Packer’s vision and leadership, Shakespeare & Company has become a home for theater professionals from all over the world. One of the largest theater-in-education programs in the Northeast, it reaches some 50,000 students annually with performances, workshops and residencies.

According to the Boston Globe, “Tina Packer and [her] company not only make Shakespeare our earthy contemporary, but they also bring a classic elegance to contemporary plays.”

During her campus residency, Packer will direct “Honor, Shame, and Violence: A Shakespeare Anthology Project” (Jan. 21-25), a compilation of war scenes from some of Shakespeare’s most beloved and lesser-known works.

This semester she is teaching an advanced acting class in Shakespeare, has led a Shakespeare performance and interpretation workshop, and will offer another focusing on gender in Shakespeare workshop [date and time will be announced later].

Also an author, Packer’s book Power Plays: Shakespeare’s Lessons in Leadership & Management, co-written with John Whitney, spent several weeks on business best-seller charts, while her children’s book, Tales from Shakespeare, received the Parents’ Choice Award. Her forthcoming Women of Will is the result of a lifelong exploration of Shakespeare’s famed yet misunderstood heroines, and is based on her five-part performance piece of the same name, which won critical acclaim in its off-Broadway run this past year.

She also has been the subject of TV and film specials, including the WGBH production “Sex, Violence & Poetry: A Portrait of Tina Packer,” and “Brush Up Your Shakespeare,” a PBS concert special in partnership with the Boston Pops and Boston Philharmonic Orchestra.

Born in Wolverhampton, England, Packer trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, was an associate artist with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and performed in the West End in more than 20 productions for BBC and ITV television. She has lectured or been the keynote speaker at some 30 colleges and universities and has received six honorary doctorate degrees.

Packer also received the 1992 Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Direction in Boston, the 1996 Boston Theatre Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, and the 2001 Elliot Norton Award for Continued Excellence in Theatre. She was the 1999-2000 Arts Recipient of the Commonwealth Award, Massachusetts’ highest cultural recognition.