Deanna received a Master of Fine Arts in Directing from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in Theatre from University of Colorado Boulder. She has worked with prestigious companies both domestically and internationally and trained in Viewpoints with SITI company founder and director, Anne Bogart.
Deanna has taught and directed at various universities. At Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania she directed The Exonerated; a new play workshop and staged reading of Sheltered and Waiting for Godot, a commedia dell’arte inspired production featuring professional commedia actors. In addition to directing at Eastern University, Deanna also co-founded the summer theater camp Eastern Summer Theater Camp (ECSTC) now known as Yes,
And… Deanna has also taught full-time at State University of New York Oswego (SUNY Oswego) where she led a ten-person pre-production research team to tour Instabul and the western coast of Turkey. Upon returning, she directed the university production of the Turkish play, Pera Palas, which was nominated for Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF).
Volcano theater company and Deanna became well acquainted over three years of developing the Volcano’s production of The Africa Trilogy (three plays dealing with the relationship between Africa and the West). Deanna began as Assistant Director of all three shows and ended the process as Co-Director of Glo by Christina Anderson, one third of the trilogy. The Africa Trilogy was the critically acclaimed main theatrical feature of Toronto’s 2010 Luminato Festival.
As an auteur Director, Deanna has adapted novels for the stage such as Mariposas adapted from Julia Alvarez’s “In The Time of the Butterflies” was produced at The Culture Project in NYC as a part of the Women’s Project. Other adaptations include Ferdydurke a novel by Witold Gombrowicz as well as dramatizations of Bertolt Brecht’s poetry. Deanna is especially fond of using found text, adding her own writing to enhance or create the story and then using viewpoints with a creative team of actors and designers to bring it to fruition.
To accompany directing and creative work, Deanna obtained a Ph.D. in Theatre from the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder). In the embrace of the flatirons in the Rocky Mountain range, she rediscovered black female playwrights from the early twentieth century, which became the source for her dissertation writing. Upon graduation, she will publish her dissertation, “Towards a Queer Black Feminist Theatre Aesthetic: Black Theatre by Three Black Female Playwrights in the Years 1915-1920” with a yet-to-be-named printing press. At CU Deanna taught various Acting and Intro courses for CU Boulder; president CU’s student group “Performers Without Borders”, directed shows in the CU fringe festival and the Boulder Fringe Festival traveling one of those shows to Vancouver, Canada.
Deanna has been an Assistant Director for CU’s Interactive Theatre Project (ITP), a tutor of CU’s Athletic Department, as well as an Artist-Mentor at Children’s Hospital Colorado in the “Art for Life” program which works with children who are confined to the hospital. She has also had the opportunity to teach theatre studies courses at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. She continues to develop professionally, by serving as the Assistant Director for Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s critically acclaimed production Party People and Yale Repertory Theatre’s production of August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson. She has also become a dance dramaturg for Gesel Mason Performance Projects, a dance company led by choreographer Gesel Mason. Currently Deanna is a post-doctoral diversity fellow at Coe College and is the dramaturg for a re-envisioning of Scott Joplin’s seminal ragtime opera, Treemonisha, in collaboration with Volcano theater, a Toronto-based international theater company. deannadownes.com
My current and future work, at its core, focuses on re-imagining and radicalizing process, production, performance, and participation in live performance arts for, by, with, and in community. As a Director, I aim to fuse artistic vision/creativity with deeply rooted research to create an experience of story and theater, not only for the audience, but throughout the process for the creative team and actors as well.
Thoughts on Intimate Apparel…
I worked on Intimate Apparel twice in my career, both times in large regional theaters, first as an Assistant Director and second as the Dramaturg. This will be my first opportunity to lead a creative team as Director. I am excited to combine my experience of the play and the deep-rooted dramaturgical research to create an informed and beautiful production with TCR.