Jan Selman

Jan Selman at the Ignite Kisumu Festival in Kenya, 2013.


Master of Fine Arts in Directing, University of Alberta, 1979.

Bachelor of Fine Arts, University of Victoria, 1974.

Education - Theatre and Community

Popular Theatre Seminar and Workshop: Canadian Conference of African Studies, 1987.

Popular Theatre Techniques: a practical intensive with Michael Etherton, University of Alberta, 1983.

Improvisation for Professionals: intensive in improvisation and mime, University of Victoria, 1974.

Acting, Banff School of Fine Arts, 1972.

Major Career Achievements

Professor, Department of Drama, University of Alberta, 1999-present.

Co-Founder (with Raphael Omondi), Ignite Afrika, an umbrella organization for arts creation and development in western Kenya. Includes initiating the annual Ignite Kisumu Theatre Festival..

Academic Director, Interim. Community Service-Learning, University of Alberta. 2015-2016.

Principal Investigator, Old Stories in New Ways, a creation research program with artistic and research partners in Canada and Kenya. 2014 - present.

Principal Investigator, Are We There Yet? Community-University Research Alliance, 2004-11. See www.ualberta.ca/awty and book: Selman and Jane Heather. Theatre, Teens, Sex Ed: Are We There Yet? (2015). University of Alberta Press.

Chair, Department of Drama, University of Alberta, 1999-2010.

Associate Professor, Department of Theatre, Film and Creative Writing, University of British Columbia, 1993-99.

Assistant and Associate Professor, Department of Drama, University of Alberta, 1988-1993.

Artistic Director, Catalyst Theatre, Edmonton, 1978-85. A community-focused theatre company, which created and produced theatre for and with the general public, schools and special interest audiences. During this time the company grew from a part time, project-based organization, to a year-round professional company which created 15 productions/popular theatre projects per year and was described as "perhaps the most innovative popular theatre company in North America" (A. Filewod, Theatre History in Canada 10, 2).

Freelance Director, for Banff Playwrights Colony, Citadel Theatre Youth Festival, Concrete Theatre, East Africa Institute, Ignite Afrika, Kam Theatre, Northern Light, Second Edition Players, Theatre Energy, Theatre Network, Tununiq Theatre, Theatre @ UBC/Women-in-View, Women's Circle, Workshop West and others.

Awards and Recognition

Co-Editor/Writer, Patrick O'Neill Book Award, Canadian Association for Theatre Research (CATR), 2016.

Team Member, Unit Teaching Awards: Faculty of Arts, 2012 and University of Alberta, 2013.

Fellow, Royal Society of Canada (FRSC). Inducted, 2011.

Cultural Hall of Fame, City of Edmonton's Salute to Excellence, 2011.

University of Alberta Excellence in Leadership Award, 2007.

Theatre 100. Selected as a member of Theatre 100, a book honouring 100 contributors to theatre in Alberta over the province's first century. 2006.

Lifetime Honorary Member, Catalyst Theatre. Bestowed, 1987.



Selman, Jan and Heather, Jane. Are We There Yet? Theatre, Teens, Sex Ed. University of Alberta Press, 2015. With contributions from members of the AWTY Community-University Research Alliance. Winner: 2016 Patrick O'Neill Award(Canadian Association of Theatre Research (CATR).

Tim Prentki and Jan Selman. Popular Theatre in Political Culture: Britain and Canada in Focus. Bristol: Intellect Books, 2000. With contributions from other popular theatre artists.

Articles & Chapters - selected

Selman, Jan and John Battye. "Old Stories in New Ways." SpiderWebShow, CDN Times, Vol. 9, Edition 3. May 23, 2017. https://spiderwebshow.ca/old-stories-in-new-ways/

Selman, Jan and Battye, John. "Telling Old Stories in New Ways: Popular Theatre in Western Kenya." In Working the Margins of Community-Based Adult Learning: The Power of Arts-Making in Finding Voice and Creating Conditions for Seeing/Listening. Ed Shauna Butterwick and Carole Roy. Sense Publishers. 2016.

Selman, Jan with Esmail, S; Heather J; Munro B. "Participatory Theatre for Change: Road Testing Cultural Adaptations." In Creative Arts in Research for Community and Cultural Change. Eds. Cheryl McLean & Robert Kelly. 2011.

Selman, Jan. "Are We There Yet?: On the Road to Safer Sex through Interactive Theatre." In The Applied Theatre Reader. Editors: Tim Prentki and Sheila Preston. Routledge, 319-327. 2008.

Butterwick, Shauna and Selman, Jan. "Embodied Metaphors: Telling Feminist Coalition Stories through Popular Theatre." In Clover, D. & Stalker, J. (Eds.). Special Issue: The art of social justice: Re-crafting activist adult education, New Zealand Journal of Adult Learning. 34:2. December 2006.

Selman, Jan and Ditor, Rachel. "M Butterfly: Staging Choices and Their Meanings." In A Vision of the Orient. Ed J. Weisenthal et al. University of Toronto Press, 227-237. 2004.

Butterwick, Shauna and Selman, Jan. "Deep Listening in a Feminist Popular Theatre Project: Upsetting the Position of Audience in Participatory Education." Adult Education Quarterly, Vol. 54, No. 1, Fall 2003.

Selman, Jan. "Three Cultures, One Issue: Popular Theatre in the North West Territories." Canadian Theatre Review. Winter, 1987. Reprinted in Popular Political Theatre and Performance. Ed Julie Salverson. Playwrights Canada Press, 40-49. 2010.

Directing - current & recent

Selman, Jan. Co-Director with Desai Ogado and Chunga Otiende. Kwe Kalyet: Lwanda Magere Revisited. New collective creation, in development 2015-17. Premiere July 8, 9 2017, Kisumu Kenya. August 4 2017, Nairobi Kenya. Part of Old Stories in New Ways research program.

Bright Burning (Colleen Murphy). Premiere, Studio Theatre, 2017.

Young City Dialogues. Co-Director of Participation, original participatory play. Premiere. Mombasa, Kenya. January, 2016.

Loveplay (Buffini). Studio Theatre, 2014.

Ignite Kisumu (co-director/dramaturg, 4 plays, 4 theatre companies). Premieres. Ignite Festival. Kisumu, Kenya. August 2014.

Story House I and II, (Mollel). Premieres. StageLAB Festival, 2012 and 2014.

Are We There Yet? (Heather). Director or Co-Director of Participation, for Concrete Theatre (2001-13); for Neworld Theatre (2009 &10); for Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company (2007 & 08).

The Missionary Position (Greg MacArthur). Premiere. Studio Theatre, 2013.

Yellow Moon (Grieg), Studio Theatre, 2011.

Graduate Supervisions, 2001-present

In Progress

Lebogang Disele. PhD (Performance Studies). Co-Supervisor, Stefano Muneroni. Women and Leadership through Performance. 2016 - present.

Lorna Sutherland. PhD (Education). Co-Supervisor. Diversity, Friendship and the Arts. 2016- present.

Patrick Tomczyk. PhD (Secondary Education. Supervisory Committee. 2015 - present.


Ashley Wright, MFA Directing, 2017. (Twelfth Night)

Chris Bullough, MFA Directing, 2016. (Or, The Whale, an adaptation of Moby Dick). Co-Supervisor, Kathleen Weiss.

Daunia Del Ben, MFA Theatre Practice, 2016. (Using Commedia in Business Theatre). Co-Supervisor, Michael Kennard.

Amanda Bergen, MFA Directing, 2015. (Tribes)

Valerie Planche, MFA Theatre Practice, 2014. (Acting and Neuroscience). Co-Supervisor, Lin Snelling.

Megan Watson, MFA Directing, 2014. (When the Rain Stops Falling)

Nancy MacAlear, MFA Directing, 2013. (pool (no water)). Co-Supervisor, Lin Snelling.

Michelle Rios, MFA Theatre Practice (Community Based Theatre), 2013.

Alison Urban, MA. 2011. (Community Based Theatre). Co-Supervisor, Diane Conrad.

Josie Auger, PhD (University of Alberta, Public Health), 2010. (Community Based Theatre). Co-Supervisor: Lory Laing.

Jeff Page, MFA Directing, 2009. (Tideline)

M. Gussal, MA. Completed 2009. (Community Based Theatre). Co-Supervisor, David Barnet.

Ian Leung, MFA Directing, 2008. (The Maids)

Pam Schmunk, MA, 2008. (Top Girls)

Stephen Noble, PhD (Educational Studies, UBC). Supervisory Committee. 2006. (Community Based Theatre)

Kadi Purru, PhD (UBC, Faculty of Education, Centre for Studies in Curriculum). Co-Supervisor: Karen Meyers. 2003.

Diane Conrad, PhD (Secondary Education). Supervisory Committee. 2003.

Warren Linds, PhD (UBC, Faculty of Education, LANE). Co-Supervisor: Carl Leggo. 2001.