Head of BFA Acting
Colette Searls is associate professor of theatre and head of performance at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) where she teaches acting, directing, and puppetry, and has devised award-winning puppetry performances. She has received grants from the Jim Henson Foundation and Puppeteers of America for her original works in object theatre. Her new book, A Galaxy of Things: the Power of Puppets and Masks in Star Wars and Beyond is now available from Routledge Press.
Searls specializes in visual storytelling, devising, and puppetry; directing credits include Albert’s Dream at the Brilliant Baltimore international arts festival, Noah Haidle’s Vigils at The Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (four Helen Hayes Award nominations), and Fixed Boundary (with Leibe Wetzle’s Lunatique Fantastique) at San Francisco’s Exit Theatre (“Best of the San Francisco Fringe Festival”). In collaboration with animator Lynn Tomlinson and UMBC’s Imaging Research Center, Searls has created an award-winning digital puppet app which has been used in her live performances and presented at conferences internationally. She also works as a puppetry coach for theatre productions.
Before entering higher education, Searls worked in the non-profit sector combining arts with human services; she produced plays by incarcerated Californians, performed inside state prisons, and served as project coordinator for Santa Cruz County’s Community Youth Arts Project, bringing professional teaching artists to public schools and juvenile detention centers.