Alumnus: Theatre Arts ’06
Ian Belknap grew up watching American musical theatre and wanting to be an actor. At Towson University, those dreams took a different direction, and today he serves as artistic director of The Acting Company in New York City.
“I was exposed to so many tenets of the theatre, from history to design, at Towson University” recalls Belknap, who says TU Theatre Arts professor Peter Wray changed his life. “Like any precocious undergraduate, I had a lot of opinions that I often shared in observations of student theatre productions,” adds Belknap. “Peter encouraged me to direct and gave me the tools of directing that I still use today.” While at Towson University, Belknap started the Free Space Theatre on campus. It was a late Thursday-night venue for playwrights, musicians, stand-up comics and other performers.
Belknap describes how directing is an apprenticeship and mentorship profession, and it was one of his mentors that led him to The Acting Company, which works in partnership with the academic community. “We create activities and provide students with a bridge to the profession through internships, workshops, and one-on-one relationships with playwrights or casting directors,” explains Belknap. “Towson University is our anchor institution in this region.”
The Acting Company uses theater to provoke critical thinking and engage students in plays like “The Assassination of Malcolm X” and “Julius Caesar.” “Civic engagement activity has taken us beyond campus to programming plays in Baltimore City,” says Belknap. “I was raised to give back, and I am happy to return to Towson University.”