My teaching combines embodied exercises with accessible pedagogy techniques, increasing inclusion for all learners.
My courses take a global approach, venturing beyond Western canons to examine a range of people, places, and practices. Throughout, I encourage students to understand themselves as both embedded within sociohistorical conditions and equipped to intervene in those conditions.
Introduction to Performance Studies teaches students to apply the tools of performance studies to a range of formal and everyday settings. Students evaluate live performances, analyze everyday embodied practices, and create performances of their own. – Theatre History Before the 18th Century offers a survey of global performance practices prior to 1700, with a particular emphasis on historiography. – Theatre History Since the 18th Century extends this survey to the present. By pairing historical performances with contemporary adaptations, these two theatre history courses argue that grounding in theatre history is vital to a career in the arts. – Play Analysis and Dramatic Literature introduces students to historical and contemporary plays while teaching foundational script analysis techniques. – Script Analysis focuses more directly on recent plays and playwrights, allowing students to develop strategies particularly well-suited to contemporary work. – Introduction to Theatre (Online) is a simultaneous massive online course designed to meet the university’s cultural diversity in the U.S. general education requirement. The course introduces online learners to a range of historical and contemporary performance practices, with a particular emphasis on minoritarian performance cultures in the U.S. – Theatre Appreciation focuses more directly on how contemporary theatre is made. Students learn to analyze diverse performances and develop small group performances.
What Students Are Saying.
“Alexis made the classroom very comfortable. She pushed us to be better performers and tied our aspects of performances to everyday life. Also, if we did not understand a concept in class she had many different examples ready in order to help.”
“The [history] work was related to our overall artistry, and the class was organized in such a way that made the material easy for consumption on any platform. Alexis was available in any capacity, even if it wasn’t in relation to course material. Her teaching method and encouragement helped me to grow as a student and as an artist in this course.”
“This class was my favorite this semester! The discussion was thought provoking. I feel like I learned history instead of just memorizing it.”
“She makes you feel included and empowered–you WANT to pay attention in class and do work because you feel a part of a community, you feel like someone is rooting for you, and you want to do well. She went out of her way all the time to be accessible to people.”
“She was very approachable and kind and was very helpful especially if I or other students didn’t understand something.”
“I have never been so challenged by a course and loved it so much. Most of what we have spent our time on has been what we call Capstones, if I am being completely honest, they have made me a better writer than most English classes…”
“There were times that I was intimidated by the other students in the class because they were all dedicated to a career in Theatre. I, however, have interests outside of the theatrical world. This did not stop Ms. Riley from including me in the class discussions.”
Guest Lectures and Workshops
I offer guest lectures and workshops for a range of theatre history, performance studies, pedagogy, and devising courses. Recent topics include:
“Accessible Performance Pedagogy” introduces graduate students to key concepts in disability studies and universal design for learning (UDL), addresses challenges associated with applying UDL to undergraduate performance courses, and equips students to incorporate accessibility into their own teaching.
“Image Descriptions as Performance Analysis” provides an introduction to audio description for theatre and dance through the vocabulary of performance analysis. Students learn strategies for sharpening their descriptive skills, all while contextualizing those skills within the larger politics of disability in performance practice. This lecture can be paired with “Access Poetics: Devising Movement/Moving Devising,” a workshop that teaches students strategies for incorporating audio descriptions into their process for devising new work.
“Mad Performativity, Mad Performance” merges mad theory with performance theory to identify how ableism is exerted and resisted through mad bodies in motion. Throughout, students develop a critical vocabulary for drawing connections between clinical and cultural representations of mental disability and distress.
In addition to presenting guest lectures and workshops for college students, I also produce and deliver curricula in theatre for social change and Playback Theatre for youth and communities. I have developed custom curricula for a range of community partners aged two and up, including a child development center, elementary classes, and university events. I have presented on this work at the Playback North America Conference and the American Society for Theatre Research’s Theatre for Social Change Debut Panel. I also continue to train with the New York School of Playback Theatre and am currently pursuing my teaching certification in Playback Theatre.