Lezlie Cross | University of Portland

Lezlie Cross

Lezlie CrossAssociate Professor of Theatre

My expertise includes both scholarly published work as well as creative work in the theatre as a dramaturg and director. In my scholarship, I primarily study the performance history of Shakespeare’s works across time and geography. I am currently writing about 19th century productions of Much Ado About Nothing in England and the U.S., and how the character of Beatrice transformed into a more outspoken figure during the women’s suffrage movement. My in-progress book project investigates the history of 19th century actor Edwin Booth’s many acting editions of Shakespeare and their use in the theatre by professional and amateur actors.

My love of Shakespeare’s language and storytelling was cemented from a very young age, when I accompanied my grandparents on yearly pilgrimages to the Utah Shakespeare Festival and Zion National Park. What I like most about studying Shakespeare’s plays is how they can become so many things in so many different contexts.

As a dramaturg, I contextualize the world of a play for the director, actors, and design team, serving as an aesthetic and literary expert. In the summer of 2021, I served as dramaturg on three productions at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. And for many years, I have been working with a group of collaborators on an ASL adaptation/translation of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, which may finally have a production at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in 2023.

I also direct productions for the UP Theater program, and I love bringing students into my research work through the plays I direct. I wanted to do a play that spoke to the long history of racist housing practices in Portland, so I worked with a team of student researchers, actors, writers, and technicians to produce a devised play Where is Home in Fall 2020 that tackled these weighty issues. It was an incredible learning experience for us. Luckily, because it was on zoom, it is still available for folks to see on the UP Theater Facebook page.

My scholarship certainly informs the way I teach, but what I learn from the students also informs my scholarship. For example, I don’t think I would have gotten into the social justice aspects of Shakespeare if I had not come to UP. In 2020, I was appointed an advisory Board Member for the series “Shakespeare and Social Justice” from Bloomsbury and I look forward to doing more work in that arena, both in my classes and my scholarship.

More about performing & fine arts >

More faculty profiles >