Department ofTheatre and Dance

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Barbara M. Fraser

Barbara M. Fraser


Barbara Means Fraser joined the theatre faculty of Santa Clara University in 1993 after ten years of teaching as a tenured Associate professor at Austin College in Texas. She earned a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon, M.A. from Miami University of Ohio, and a B.A. from Yankton College in South Dakota. Fraser has directed three musicals at Santa Clara University: Company, "A" My Name is Alice, and A Chorus Line. She also directed Sophocles' Antigone, Twilight of the Golds by Jonathan Tollins, Parallel Lives by Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney, and The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman and The Member of the Tectonic Theatre Project.  In 1999 she directed Aldo Billingslea in Paul Robeson by Phillip Hayes Dean at the Plano Repertory Theatre in Dallas, Texas.

For the 30th anniversary of the murders of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk by Dan White, Fraser directed Execution of Justice by Emily Mann, and she served as Artistic Director in collaboration with two of her directing students in the production of Dead Man Walking. Both of these productions were enhanced by collaboration with Ellen Kreitzberg of the Law School who organized and facilitated panels following each performance of Dead Man Walking and several performances of Execution of Justice.

Fraser is also a playwright. She has written eight plays and collaborated on one musical, Family, with Tony Asaro, which premiered at the Fess Parker Studio Theatre in May of 1999, and then went on to be produced by the Ryan Repertory Theatre in New York in September and October of 2000. As part of her Spring 2009 sabbatical, Fraser was granted a residency as the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire where she completed her play Dog Park Philosophy. Plans are underway for readings and production in association with the Santa Clara University Center of Performing Arts.

Her second play, Illusion of Success, received a play reading at the Black Swan Theatre of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1995 and at the Sacramento Theatre Company in 1994, both under the direction of Aldo Billingslea. In the Spring of 1997 the premiere of her play, The Ridinghood Incident, was directed by Mark Fleischer. In the Spring of 2003, her newest play, Breast Entanglements premiered at Santa Clara, and then went on to Ashland, Oregon for a staged reading at the Black Swan Theatre of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, both directed by alumna, Erin Mahan.

Fraser and Sarah Grojean partnered to create The Progressive Theatre Project which produced Fraser's play Breast Entanglements in cooperation with City Lights Theater of San Jose and in cooperation with Student Life at Santa Clara University, both directed by Sarah Grojean. Progressive Theatre Project also produuced a staged reading of Fraser's Carl Upchurch: An American Shaman in cooperation with San Jose Repertory Theatre, and a reading of Fraser's Harassment Dance, both directed by Sarah Grojean.

Fraser received a Department of Justice grant to assist with the research for her play Can't Thread a Moving Needle, which was produced in association with Student Life at Santa Clara University in October of 2008 and October of 2009, directed by Maren Lovgren.

Fraser wrote her doctoral dissertation on the American Musical Theatre, and has continued that interest by presenting papers at National Conventions for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) and the Popular Culture Association. In October of 1997 she was invited to Taiwan to present a paper as a Sondheim specialist. Additionally, she has published articles in The Sondheim Review, Theatre Journal, Journal of American Culture, Theatre Southwest, and Fu Jen Studies of Literature and Linguistics. Fraser had a chapter included in Sondheim, A Casebook edited by Joanne Gordon, and another chapter will soon be published in a book about Women in the American Musical Theatre edited by Judith Sebesta and Bud Coleman. With a specialty in American theatre history, cultural analysis of theatre and the musicals of Sondheim, Fraser brings her favorite tools together to teach Performance and Culture, Dramaturgy, Directing, a Sondheim Seminar, History of the American Musical Theatre, and Modern American Theatre History.