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Faculty

Ernest Zulia

Ernest Zulia, associate professor of theatre and department chair; B.A., SUNY Geneseo; M.F.A., Northwestern University

Zulia serves as artistic director and chair of the Hollins University theatre department. He has directed dozens of plays, musicals, operas, and world premieres in regional theatres throughout the United States and internationally, including the Barter Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and the Asolo Theatre. He served as associate artistic director at Mill Mountain Theatre from 1987 to1995, as well as co-artistic director at the Highlands Playhouse in North Carolina. His stage adaptation of Robert Fulghum's international best-selling book All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten, launched by Mill Mountain Theatre in 1992, has received thousands of productions around the world. He directed the show at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., where he also created and directed Magic To Do, featuring the songs of Academy Award winner Stephen Schwartz. This brought further collaborations with Mr. Schwartz, including his direction of the American premiere of Children of Eden, also at Mill Mountain Theatre. He was an artistic associate at the award-winning Apple Tree Theatre in Chicago for 12 years, where he was nominated for Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Award as best director. He is the producing director of the International Theatre Laboratory of Crete where, in collaboration with Virginia Tech, artists from five countries assembled to explore a global theatre language for the 21st century. He was recently honored by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival as distinguished teaching artist, and his Hollins production Bellocq’s Ophelia, based on the work by U.S. poet laureate Natasha Trethewey M.A. ’91 was also honored with four national awards for distinguished production. Zulia is a member of SDC and the Dramatists Guild.

Todd Ristau

Todd Ristau, assistant professor of theatre and director of the Hollins' M.F.A. program in playwriting; B.A., M.F.A., University of Iowa; M.A., Hollins University

Ristau is an actor, director, and graduate of the Iowa Playwrights Workshop. His plays have been produced internationally in theatres ranging from 30 chairs in an Iowa City church basement to the Birmingham Hippodrome in England. Ristau's play, Great Balls of Fire, the Jerry Lee Lewis Story, was produced on London's West End. He has acted professionally, and in 1986 he cofounded No Shame Theatre, an experiential learning lab for new writing that has grown into a national network of venues where many important new theatre artists have gotten their start. He worked with Mill Mountain Theatre for five years as coordinator of their second stage and as literary associate overseeing new works programming. Ristau now serves as artistic director of Studio Roanoke, a storefront theatre space dedicated to new works development in downtown Roanoke.

John Forsman

John Forsman, technical director and instructor; M.F.A., University of Virginia; B.F.A., Nebraska Wesleyan University

Forsman has worked in a variety of theatres across the country. He has worked as the assistant technical director for the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and as stage crew supervisor at the Santa Fe Opera in New Mexico.