CalArts Writing Program Under New Leadership

California Institute of the Arts President Steven D. Lavine made it official: internationally produced playwright, poet and educator Brighde Mullins will be the newest Director of the Masters in Fine Arts Writing Program in the School of Critical Studies at CalArts.

“The Writing Program has now consolidated a distinctive reputation for innovative, hybrid styles of creative practice,” said Dean of Critical Studies Nancy Wood in a statement. “Brighde’s arrival promises to renew and widen our ambitions.”

Wood added that Bridghe’s poetry and playwrights fit the institution’s philosophy in providing CalArts students with the opportunity to experiment and expand conventional genre boundaries.

Mullins becomes part of a city that has shared literary prominence across the board, from its heritage of prominent playwrights and writers, including Joan Didion, Wanda Coleman, Mona Simpson and Carol Muske, to a now thriving experimental community formed by Martha Ronk, Harryette Mullen, Killarney Clary and Amy Gerstler-a landscape of writers that is certainly hard to come by elsewhere.

Even more, the University of Nevada graduate enjoys Los Angeles as a place that now “has as an enormous allure for young writers. Lately, my students from Harvard who want to write are moving to Los Angeles rather than New York.”

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Writing Program at CalArts gives advanced students the opportunity to pursue a variety of traditional and alternative forms of prose, from fiction and poetry to experimental criticism and hypertext.

While the program has high standards for its students, the institution allows for interdisciplinary endeavors that break trends to be practiced.

As the first U.S. higher educational institution to integrate the visual and performing arts, CalArts has been recognized as the nation’s leading laboratory for all artistic disciplines: Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theater.

Students take classes at other CalArts Schools on campus and work together on projects with students that may have different interests.

Mullins’ plays have reached metropolitan giants like New York and Los Angeles, and have earned critical acclaim overseas in London.

A professor at San Francisco State University and Brown University, Mullins has several accolades in the academic world.
In 2001, she was named a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Dramatic Writing at Harvard University and served as the Director of Creative Writing last year.

That’s just the beginning for this playwright, though.

For her play Monkey In The Middle, Mullins worked with British theater director Mark Wing Davey at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

From 1990-2002, she directed the Reading Series in Contemporary Poetry at Dia Art Foundation, a renowned series that featured such poets as Czeslaw Milosz, Jimmy Schuyler and Gwendolyn Brooks.

An active member in the New York theater scene, Mullins has spent time in San Francisco with the Bay Area Playwrights Festival.

And after producing Rare Bird at the Portland Stage, Dallas Theatre Center, Mabou Mines and New York Theatre Workshop, this playwright has more than a full plate of ongoing projects.

Currently, the playwright has been working with Venice-based theater collective Workshop 360, which produced Fire Eater in 2004, to develop her latest play that explores the American west, casino culture and frontier mentality.

Simultaneously, Mullins develops a new script at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, MN.

Now she brings to Los Angeles an impressive body of work accompanied by professional experiences that can benefit every student.

“A sense of place and a strong interaction with place seems vital in a writer’s life,” Mullins said. “Los Angeles is a great city to live in as a writer: actively interracial, intercultural, abounding in linguistic hijinx, eye-candy and street-vernacular.”

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