SummaryDean, College of Visual and Performing Arts, George Mason University Professor, School of Theater Executive Director, Hylton Performing Arts Center,
Address: College Hall, C200B
4400 University Drive, MS 4C1
Fairfax, VA 22030
I joined Mason in 1991 as Artistic Director of Theater of the First Amendment (TFA) and a member of the theater faculty. TFA was a long-running experiment in the fusion of a professional theater with an undergraduate theater program situated in an innovative arts environment within a young, rapidly growing state university. Between 1990 and 2012, TFA (an Actor’s Equity company) produced dozens of world premiere productions, many of which have gone on to further production, publication, and broadcast. The company was nominated for 38 Helen Hayes Awards, winning twelve.
Prior to coming to George Mason, I worked for six seasons (1986-91) at Baltimore’s major regional theater, Center Stage, serving as Resident Dramaturg and Associate Artistic Director. I co-founded the American Ibsen Theater in Pittsburgh (1983-85). From 1983-88 I taught drama at Washington College in Maryland.
At Mason I served as Interim Director of the Institute of the Arts in 2000-01, leading the preparation for the founding of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. From 2001-2007 I was Associate Dean of the new College and Artistic Director of the Center for the Arts, Mason’s 2,000-seat home for opera, symphony, dance, and world music, presenting a diverse 45-50 event season, “Great Performances at Mason,” and serving as a venue for local and regional arts groups.
In 2007 I was named Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, working on issues such as general and liberal education and international initiatives. Along with the Office of Institutional Assessment, I was proud to help Mason achieve the Association of General and Liberal Studies “Exemplary Program Award” for 2011.
As Executive Director of Mason’s 1,200-seat Hylton Performing Arts Center since August, 2011, I oversee a new, state of the art venue with multiple performance and exhibition spaces on the university’s Prince William Campus. The Hylton Center presents national and international touring artists and is home to many resident arts organizations, civic events, business functions, and educational activities.
An active member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (the union of professionals in those fields), I’ve been fortunate to direct a broad range of theater and opera productions across the country. For a selected list, click here.
I have enjoyed consulting on facility programming and design, mission, and operations, most recently with the City of Sandy Springs, GA as they develop a major new downtown civic and performing arts center.
As an author, my works include Calderón de la Barca: Four Great Plays of the Golden Age; a set of co-translations of Ibsen with Brian Johnston (Ibsen: Four Major Plays, vol. I), which have been performed at leading regional theaters across the country and anthologized; Ibsen in an Hour (with Brian Johnston), and Writing About Theatre (with Christopher Thaiss). With composer Kim D. Sherman I created an oratorio, The Songbird and the Eagle, premiered (and recently revived) by the San Jose Chamber Orchestra, and an opera, Love’s Comedy. I’ve also written for publications such as American Theatre, Theater, The Journal of Social History, Global Studies Review, wrote the overview of drama for The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World, and contributed several entries to The Columbia Encyclopedia of Modern Drama.
I’m happy to note with gratitude that my colleagues have awarded me a George Mason Teaching Excellence Award (1997) and named me Alumni Association Distinguished Faculty Member of the Year (2006). I studied at Lawrence University (BA, ’80, Phi Beta Kappa) and the Yale School of Drama (MFA ’83, DFA ‘03
DFA Dramaturgy, Dramatic Lit., Criticism
1983 – 2003
DIssertation: “All the Universe a Stage: Three Plays of Calderón de la Barca.” Later extended and published in 2009 by Smith & Kraus as “Calderón de la Barca: Four Great Plays of the Golden Age.”
MFADramaturgy, Dramatic Lit., Criticism
1980 – 1983
Activities and Societies: Kenneth Tynan Award in Dramaturgy
Bachelor of Arts (BA)Theater and Drama
1975 – 1980
Activities and Societies: Phi Beta Kappa, Eta Sigma Phi; F. Theodore Cloak Award in Theater and Drama
Minor in English
Dean, College of Visual and Performing Arts
George Mason University
May 2015 – Present
Chief Academic and Executive Officer of visual and performing arts college housing seven academic programs (Art, Dance, Music, Theater, Film and Video Studies, Arts Management, Computer Game Design) and a community school (Potomac Arts Academy). CVPA serves 1,400 majors and thousands of students from across the university, and offers degrees from the bachelor’s through the doctorate. CVPA operates the Center for the Arts on the Fairfax Campus and the Hylton Performing Arts Center on the Science & Technology Campus (Manassas/Prince William County).
Hylton Performing Arts Center
2011 – Present
Prince William Campus, George Mason University
Chief executive of multi-venue performing arts center with annual budget of almost $7 million, offering a season of international touring artists, serving as artistic home for many local and regional ensembles, and becoming a focal point for economic and cultural development. Work includes strategic planning and implementation, artistic planning, government and community relations, fundraising.
Professor of Theater
George Mason University
1992 – Present
Teach in Mason’s School of Theater (chair of Theater Department in early-mid ’90s); courses include directing at several levels, theater history, dramatic literature, and various special topics and tutorials. Direct plays on regular rotation, and also operas from time to time for the School of Music.
the wide world of theater and academia
1983 – Present
freelance work in and around and between various institutional engagements; stage director (member, Stage Directors and Choreographers Society) for professional theater and opera productions (venues include Center Stage, TFA, IN Series, Kennedy Center, Opera Idaho, Lake George Opera, Capital City Opera, Unseam’d Shakespeare Company, Delaware Theatre Company, Players Theatre Columbus, American Ibsen Theater). Librettist for two works by composer Kim D. Sherman (opera, Love’s Comedy, and oratorio, The Songbird and the Eagle). Translator of Calderon de la Barca and, with Brian Johnston, Henrik Ibsen. Panelist for NEA, VCA, MAC, PennPAT, others. Essayist and occasional blogger on the liberal arts.
Feb 2016 – Apr 2016
Served as adviser to major international consulting firm engaged in the planning of a university-based performing arts center in the Persian Gulf. Provided information and analysis regarding organizational structures and operational practices.
Associate Dean, College of Visual and Performing Arts.
George Mason University
2001 – May 2015
Work with Dean and faculty of comprehensive arts program with 1,400 majors and a semester enrollment of more than 8,000 students. Assist with curriculum, strategic and facilities planning, and teach courses in Theater and Arts Management.
CIty of Sandy Springs, GA
Sep 2014 – Oct 2014
Facilitator and consultant on the program development and design recommendations for a new, multi-venue performing arts center, planned as the anchor for a redeveloped City Center project. Led community charrettes, worked with architect, consultant team, and city staff to develop and report findings to Mayor and Council.
Theater of the First Amendment
1991 – 2012
Artistic leadership of Equity professional company in residence at George Mason University, in partnership with liberal arts oriented undergraduate drama program. Under the banner “We Entertain Ideas,” TFA focused on new works/world and regional premieres, new visions of neglected classics, and new work for family audiences. Many premieres went on to subsequent production, publication, and broadcast. TFA was honored with 12 Helen Hayes and nearly 40 nominations.
Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education
George Mason University
2007 – 2011
As member of Provost Peter N. Stearns’s senior staff, assisted with undergraduate matters including liberal arts/general education advocacy and curriculum development (ex officio Chair of General Education committee), academic policies, strategic planning, international student curriculum and support, promotion and tenure cases, student academic affairs, special events. Co-created general education assessment program that was honored with “Outstanding Achievement in General Education” award, Association of General and Liberal Studies, 2011. Guest blogger for American Association of Colleges and Universities Project LEAP.
Resident Dramaturg (1986-90), Associate Artistic Director (1990-91)
1986 – 1991
Helped launch dramaturgy department at major regional theater company; assisted with season planning, casting, production dramaturgy, board relations, marketing, and development. Created Cabaret series.
Reviews, Features, Miscellany
director – West Side Story + Roméo et Juliette
• Young Artists of America, Strathmore Music Center, Bethesda, MD, 2015
director — Fatal Song, or the Great Opera Murders
• by Kathleen Cahill • Music by Mozart, Donizetti, Verdi, Puccini, Bernstein. • The IN Series, Source Theatre, DC, 2014
director/adapter — Love and Money: The Soldier’s Tale and Johnny Schicchi
• new adaptation of L’Histoire du Soldat, arranged for trio. Schicchi adapted by Bari Biern • The IN Series, Gala Hispanic Theatre, DC, 2013.
director — Barber and Barberillo: A Hand of Bridge and El Barberillo de Lavapiés • The IN Series, Source Theatre, 2012.
librettist — The Songbird and the Eagle
• oratorio • Kim D. Sherman, composer • San José Chamber Orchestra & The Choral Project. 2006, 2014
essay — Plays by Women: One Theater’s Story
• HowlRound, 2014 • Reflections on Theater of the First Amendment’s body of work in light of the current discussion of gender parity in the American theater.
host — Studio A, a film and video colloquium on GMU-TV and Vimeo.
Since 2007 I have had the pleasure of interviewing more than sixty film, media, and video professionals in a 30-minute live-to-tape format. The show supports student learning in the Film and Video Studies program by offering students roles as researchers and assistant producers, as well as the chance to interact with guests both on and off air. Studio A has been honored with Davey, Gracie, and Telly awards
Rick Davis Tripartite Agreement
“Catholic, Muslim, Enemy, Friend”
Published on Oct 23, 2012 | TEDx Talks
Dr. Richard Davis at TEDxGeorgeMasonU
Talk given at TEDxGeorgeMasonU, May 6th 2012.
Produced by Andrew Hawkins and Joe Renaud.
Film done by Kathleen Wills.
Production Manager: Jessica Teaford
Catholic, Muslim, Enemy, Friend: A 17th Century playwright looks at honor across cultures
Rick Davis is Executive Director of the Hylton Performing Arts Center on the Prince William campus of George Mason University as well as Artistic Director of Theater of the First Amendment, Professor of Theater, and Associate Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Under his leadership since 1991, TFA, the resident professional company of Theater at Mason, has been nominated for more than thirty Helen Hayes Awards and has won the award twelve times, including outstanding resident production and outstanding new play. From 2000-2007, Rick served as Artistic Director of Mason’s Center for the Arts, and from 2007-2011 was Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education.