Saint Martin's University

David Hlavsa

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Position/Discipline: professor, theatre arts; director, interdisciplinary studies

Contact information
Office location: Old Main 343
Phone: 360-438-4345

David Hlavsa heads the Theatre Arts Department at Saint Martin's University where he has been teaching acting, directing, playwriting and film studies since 1989. A recipient of the University's Outstanding Teaching Award, he has served twice as Faculty President.

Productions directed at SMU include A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Dining Room, Old Times, You Can Count on Me, A Little Night Music, Reaching Through the Frame, Tartuffe, Everyman, Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet), The Day Room, The Illusion and Comings & Goings. As an actor in SMU productions, Hlavsa's roles include Death in Everyman, Budge in The Day Room, and Vincent in Crows Over Wheatfield.

In collaboration with faculty from a wide variety of disciplines, he has developed and co-taught courses on political theatre; Saint Joan; Jane Austen on film; business leadership; acting for teachers; and Jesus on film and in the Gospels. At the University's Spiritual Life Institute, he has taught workshops on theatre as a spiritual path.

Hlavsa lives in Seattle with his wife Lisa Holtby and their son Benjamin.

Publications: Hlavsa is the author of An Actor Rehearses: What to do When - and Why (Allworth Press, 2006). His plays, including Pack of Lies, I'm Your Man, and Long Run have been widely produced. As an arts writer for the Seattle Repertory Theatre, he published more than twenty articles and study guides on Shakespeare, Chekhov, Synge, Pirandello, Goldini, Feydeau, David Mamet, August Wilson and others.

Teaching philosophy: "I see theatre not as just a demanding art but a redemptive one. We are all born creative, expressive and industrious, but as we grow older these innate qualities can often be obscured, stifled and thwarted. We trade vulnerability for security, openness for defensiveness, conspicuous enthusiasm for feigned apathy. My classes are about re-discovering and refining our innate abilities to imagine, empathize, express and to find joy in hard work. Marianne Williamson once wrote, 'Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.' As a teacher, my goal in every class is that every single student finds a way to let that light shine. I believe that studying and practicing theatre can make us all better people - better in the sense of kinder to others, but also in the sense of more functional, more intentional, more centered, more openhearted, more conscious, more alive." 

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Education: B.A., English/theatre, Princeton University; M.F.A., Directing, University of Washington.