The U of A has a number of leading specialists in acting. The current group of instructors that teach in the BFA Acting program approach acting pedagogy from their own area of research: Dr. Melanie Dreyer-Lude (Acting, Directing); Michael Kennard (Clown, Mask and Acting); David Ley (Voice, Text and Acting); Jan Selman (Acting, Directing); Lin Snelling (Movement and Dance);  Kathleen Weiss (Acting) as well as four long-time Contract Instructors: Marie Nychka (Movement and Dance); Jan Henderson (Mask, Clown and Acting); Kim Mattice Wanat (Singing), and Jean-Pierre Fournier (Stage Combat).

Several faculty members are directly involved in research through their own performance activity. Michael Kennard joined the department after a substantial internationally recognized career as a clown and continues to perform as half of the clown duo "Mump and Smoot". David Ley has a substantial body of work as an actor; recent leading roles include Stones in his Pockets for Theatre Lac Brome and Speaking in Tongues for Shadow Theatre.

Key contacts:

Melanie Dreyer-LudeDr. Melanie Dreyer-Lude

Specializes in international theatre collaboration and multi-lingual performance. Directs and acts professionally and translates contemporary German plays into American English. Regularly teaches workshops on research communication to a variety of disciplines. Currently investigating the impact of neoliberal policies on arts education.

Primary Teaching Areas: Acting, Directing, Research Communication, Empathy 


Michael KennardMichael KENNARD

Uses the clown techniques to explore performer impulse, truth and vulnerability in relationship to the audience. Creates imaginative worlds without literal boundaries.

Primary Teaching Areas: Performer-Created Theatre, Movement and Physical Theatre, Collective Creation, Clown. Graduate Supervision.



  David LeyDavid LEY

Creator of the Vibrant Voice Technique, which uses external vibration to aid in voice production. Explores tools for dialect acquisition. Research also explores vocal variation and its relationship to meaning in the presentation of classical text. Applies new discoveries and skills to his own practice as an actor in theatre and film.

Primary Teaching Areas: BFA Voice, Speech in Rehearsal and Performance, Dialects and Accents, BFA Acting, MFA Voice Pedagogy. Graduate Supervision. 


Jean O'HaraDr. Jean O'HARA

A theatre director with research and practice areas in multicultural theatre, devised theatre, social justice theatre, gender performance, Two-Spirit/Indigenous theatre and queer theatre/performance.

Primary Teaching Areas: directing, acting, performer creator theatre, physical theatre, performance studies, critical theory of the intersection of race, gender, sexuality (dis)abilities, and class in performance and theatre literature.


Jan SelmanJan SELMAN

Directs contemporary and original theatrical work. Also a dramaturge and director of new theatre and performance, working with playwrights and theatre teams. Specializes in participatory and community-based theatre, as a facilitator and director, and publishes based on this long standing practice.

Primary Teaching Areas: Directing, Performer-Created Theatre, BFA Acting. Graduate Seminars in Directing, Community-Based Theatre. Graduate Supervision.


Lin SnellingLin SNELLING

Research is the honing of musical, experiential, intuitive, technical, energetic and anatomical intelligence the body offers through dancing. By listening to the practical and paradoxical intelligence of the body, the dancer becomes scholar as the body's intelligence and intuition is a vibrant and sensual library. Making dance, dancing and discussing dance creates an open field for cross-pollination in art.

Primary Teaching Areas: BFA Movement for Actors. Graduate Supervision.


Kathleen WeissKathleen WEISS

Develops innovative performance techniques that reveal character through extended imagery. Explores a performance language that emphasizes the physical playing of the actor moving in space, in varied kinds of audience relationship.

Primary Teaching Areas: Directing, BFA acting, Performer-Created Theatre. Graduate Seminars in Directing, New Play Dramaturgy, Emergence of the Director. Graduate Supervision.