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Cortney McEniry joined the Center for Teaching Excellence and the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs teams at the beginning of 2019. As the Artistic Director and Programs Manager of UVA Acts, Cortney works with faculty, administrators, students, and local artists to create interactive performances around issues of equity in the workplace and the classroom. As an applied theatre practitioner, her practice centers on facilitating agentive, asset-based artistic processes with and for communities, and her research focuses on grassroots practices in institutional settings. Cortney’s areas of practice include community-based devising, Theatre in Education, Theatre of the Oppressed, Drama-based Pedagogy, and Youth Theatre.
Cortney McEniry is an applied theatre facilitator and community-based artist. At the University of Virginia, Cortney is the inaugural Artistic Director and Program Manager of UVA Acts, an educational theatre program promoting equitable, vibrant spaces for working and learning. In this new role at UVA, she works closely with the Center for Teaching Excellence and with Faculty Development in the Provost’s Office to develop interactive theatre programs addressing climate issues in the areas of inclusive teaching and faculty development, recruitment, and retention.
In collaboration with the United States Embassy to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cortney is currently co-creating an arts-integrated disinformation prevention curriculum for high school students with accompanying professional development for educators. Her practice has been sharpened through collaboration with artists in a variety of contexts, including adults gaining literacy, young people experiencing confinement, educators in public schools, families experiencing housing insecurity, and community advocates who were formerly incarcerated. Cortney worked for three years with peer educators in the Voices Against Violence Theatre for Dialogue program, a nationally-recognized sexual violence prevention program at the University of Texas at Austin. As a teaching artist, Cortney has facilitated artistic processes for McCarter Theatre Center, Barrington Stage Company, the Performing Justice Project (UT Austin), Playmaking for Girls (Synchronicity Theatre), Drama for Schools (UT Austin), and Conspire Theatre Company.
Prior to joining the UVA community in 2018, Cortney was the Director of Community Engagement at Milwaukee Repertory Theater, where she produced the first national conference for community engagement practitioners in American regional theaters. In Greenville, SC, she co-founded Front Porch Arts Collective, a two-year initiative that hired over 50 local artists and commissioned over 20 new works centered on the multifaceted stories of the South. Her research and focus on youth agency guided her practice while leading the 2016 High School Intensive at McCarter Theatre Center and producing the Professional Training Institute for two seasons at Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
Cortney has had the privilege of teaching and learning from emerging community-based artists in several courses, including the Student Artists in Residence course at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Theatre for Dialogue course at The University of Texas at Austin. In 2016, she was a co-recipient of the Ann Shaw Fellowship to fund her thesis research in community-based youth theatre within regional theatre contexts. Her writing on community-engaged practices can be seen in publications such as Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, the Howlround Blog, TYA Today, Theatre Topics and Youth Theatre Journal, and she has presented workshops and research at conferences including the American Alliance for Theatre & Education, Association for Theatre in Higher Education, and the NYU Forum on Educational Theatre. Cortney has worked as a guest artist at Texas State University, Anderson University, and James Madison University. Cortney completed her B.A. in Theatre Studies at Furman University in South Carolina and her M.F.A. in Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities from UT Austin. Hook ’em!
2016 Winnifred Ward Nominee. UT Austin and American Association for Theatre in Education.
2016 Ann Shaw Fellowship. Theatre for Young Audiences/USA (ASSITEJ).
2014 Charles Evans Foundation Fellowship. McCarter Theatre Center.
Hernandez, Mateo and Cortney McEniry. “A Call to Change: Anti-Racist Practices in TYA Organizations.” TYA Today. (Spring 2018). Print.
McEniry, Cortney. “Artist-neighbours: The Role of Artists in Place-based Communities.” Ride: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance 21.2 (2016): 176-82. Print.
McEniry, Cortney. “Let’s Talk: Theatre for Dialogue Emerges as a Powerful Prevention Model.” TYA Today (Fall 2015): 26-29. Print.
“The Ann Shaw Fellowship: Building Community through Theatre for Young Audiences.” Statera Conference. (Milwaukee, WI): October 2018.
“Dis/Embodied Capital Roundtable Series: Students as Capital Producers: Rethinking Pedagogy and Ethics in Classroom, Performance, and Digital Environments.” Association for Theatre in Higher Education. (Chicago, IL): August 2016.
“Amplification without Appropriation: Acknowledging Privilege in Community-based Devising.” American Alliance for Theatre & Education. (Boston, MA): July 2016.
“Listen and Respond: Devising with Oral Histories.” Texas Educational Theatre Association Conference. (Dallas, TX): January 2016.
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