4 Questions: Elizabeth Bradley
This article is part of our series 50 Years of Disruption, in celebration of the Department of Theatre’s 50th Anniversary. In it, we’ll ask each participant four questions about themselves and their time at York.
1. Who are you?
Elizabeth Bradley (BFA 1976). My major interests at York Theatre were directing and management. Currently I am an Arts Professor and former Chair of the Department of Drama at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Prior to my ten years here, I served as Head of the School of Drama at Carnegie Mellon University. When I left Canada I was CEO of the Hummingbird Centre (now Sony Centre part of Civic Theatres Toronto). For several years, I ran a commercial producing company. During the years in the United States I have maintained my ties with Canada through a stint teaching cultural leadership at the Banff Centre, participating in the artistic leadership team during Des McAnuff’s tenure as artistic director at Stratford, and working for NetGain Consultants on a study about possible futures for the City of Toronto owned theatres. In addition to my teaching at NYU, I am a Broadway League certified theater critic. I review Broadway alongside former New York Times critic Charles Isherwood for a new online site for original journalism about the theater called Broadway.News. And I teach internationally and coordinate a learning academy for high potential leaders who attend the congresses of the International Society of the Performing Arts. In summary, I identify as an educator, cultural consultant, international producer, critic and NYC based “den mother” mentor to visiting Canadian artists!
How I got where I am? Certainly, this was an unexpected, even maverick outcome. I have no idea. To quote Tom Stoppard in “Shakespeare In Love” — it’s a mystery!
2. What was your favourite moment during your time in the Theatre Department, and why?
Likely producing, directing and even acting in a radically cut version of Vanburgh’s The Relapse presented as an independent student production under the auspices of “Student Project Week” as it was then called. A close second would be working on the Burton performing arts series as student assistant — this was an invaluable introduction to global presenting.
3. What comment, quotation, statement, or action that a professor—or classmate—offered had the greatest impact on you?
The acting teacher Norman Welsh, who with the best of intentions, told me that if he ever started a theatre company he would want me to run it! I cut and ran from performance after the first semester of my sophomore year and saved myself much wasted time!
4. Is there a way you incorporate a particular aspect of your theatre training in your current work?
The emphasis on wide ranging cultural curiosity is a value which has stayed with me and which I strive to inculcate in all the students with whom I work. It is clear that my BFA from York Theatre has taken me very far and I am grateful.