Amanda J. Nelson
Amanda Nelson is an associate professor in Theatre. She joined the faculty at Virginia Tech in 2013 to create and establish a new MFA program in Arts Leadership. Previously, she worked 11 years for the world-renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York where she oversaw membership programs, government relations, corporate sponsorships, and foundation support.
Prior to joining Ailey, Nelson worked in marketing, arts education, and community outreach. At IBM, she was part of a web marketing team; at the non-profit Girls Incorporated, she designed and implemented arts programs for inner-city youth; and at Young Audiences of the Bay Area, she worked in outreach and marketing.
Nelson holds a PhD in Drama from Tufts University, an MA in Drama from San Francisco State University, and a BA in Drama from the University of California at Irvine. She now teaches a range of theatre and arts courses, including arts leadership, arts advocacy, arts marketing, development, strategic management, and human resources in the arts. Through a collaboration with a colleague in music, she developed a musical theatre summer intensive course and has directed several workshop productions including Babes in Arms, Oh, Kay!, and Fiorello! for the Blacksburg Summer Arts Festival and Songs and Scenes from “The Sap of Life” at Virginia Tech.
She has begun to explore the intersection of theatre and technology, developing multidisciplinary performance projects that mix traditional theatre texts with new media, including spatial audio, video projections, and virtual reality. Recent collaborative new media projects: Shakespeare's Garden: An Immersive Sound Stroll Through His Sonnets, Soliloquies, and Scenes, and Poe's Shadows: An Immersive Theatrical Installation. Collaborating with Molly Hood, Theatre faculty at Radford University, Dr. Nelson developed a new hands-on course concept called “Performing History.” The new course was piloted in spring 2020 with “Performing History: Women and the Vote” (see www.performinghistory.com/womenandthevote).
She has written on a range of theatre topics, regularly presents at conferences, and is a freelance theatre reviewer for The Roanoke Times.
- Arts Leadership
- Arts and Technology
- Women and Theatre
- Arts Advocacy
- Theatre History
- PhD in Drama, Tufts University, 2000
- MA in Drama, San Francisco State University, 1995
- BA in Drama, University of California at Irvine, 1991
- Association of Arts Administration Educators (AAAE)
- Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP)
- 2019 The Albert Lee Sturm Award for Faculty Excellence in the Creative Arts, Virginia Tech. Awarded along with colleagues N. Staley, C. Nichols, and M. Dee.
- 2019 International Design Award (IDA), Silver in Print/Signs, Exhibits, and POP Displays Category for “Shakespeare’s Garden” multidisciplinary project. Awarded along with colleagues M. Dee, N. Staley, and C. Nichols.
- 2019 Western Virginia ADDY Gold Awards, Events and Illustration categories for “Poe’s Shadows,” multidisciplinary project. Awarded along with colleagues M. Dee, N. Staley, T. Upthegrove, and A. Reed.
- Nelson, Amanda and Natasha Staley, 2020. “Playing the Bard in the Immersive Realm: An Examination of Audience Agency,” The International Journal of New Media, Technology, and the Arts, Volume 15, Issue 1, pages 11-19.
- Nelson, Amanda and Richard Masters, 2018. “Rethinking the College Summer Intensive: A New Model for Collaboration,” Stage Directors and Choreographers Society Journal (SDC), Volume 6, Number 3, pages 44-49. SDC serves more than 1500 stage directors and choreographers.
- Nelson, Amanda, 2018. “Collaborating, Collecting, and Analyzing Data: A Case Study in Experiential Learning in the Arts Management Classroom,” American Journal of Arts Management (online journal) ISSN: 2333-3537.
- Nelson, Amanda, 2016. “Meeting the Needs of the On-Demand Generation: Bringing Twenty-First Century Technology into the College Arts Classroom,” The International Journal of Arts Education, The Arts in Society, Common Ground Publishing, Volume 11, Issue 3, pages 15-24.
- “Is a Resident Company for You? Advice to the Actor from an Artistic Director,” in Acting for the Stage, Editors Anna Weinstein and Chris Qualls, Focal Press - Taylor and Francis Group, pages 39-47. The book is part of a new series focused on career development for both undergraduate and graduate students. February 2017.
Theatre Reviews For The Roanoke Times (selected)
- September 27, 2019 “MMT's ‘The Glass Menagerie’ resonates with conflict and mystical setting.”
- March 31, 2019 “Theatre Review: Mill Mountain Theatre Rocks Out to ‘Mama Mia.’”
- February 18, 2019 “Community Theatre Review: Showtimers Nimbly Navigates Fast-Pace Parody.”
- September 29, 2018 “Theatre Review: ‘The Laramie Project’ is an Appeal for Hope Over Hate.”
- June 22, 2018 “Theatre Review: Cast Embraces Intimacy of ‘Spring Awakening.’”
- April 30, 2018 “Theatre Review: Mill Mountain Theatre’s ‘Chorus Line’ is Standout Production.”
- December 5, 2017 “Community Theatre Review: ‘Rumors’ Abound in Showtimers’ Latest Production.”
- October 6, 2017 “Theatre Review: Mill Mountain Theatre’s ‘Little Shop’ Offers Diet of Guilty Pleasures.”
- May 5, 2017 “Theatre Review: Roanoke Children’s Theatre Brings Beloved Children’s Book Characters to the Stage.”
- May 2, 2017 “Play Review: ‘Moonlight and Magnolias’ Mixes Classic Hollywood, the Old South, and Historic Unease.”
- April 5, 2017 “Community Theatre Review: Off the Rails’ ‘Arcadia’ Not to Be Missed.”
- February 21, 2017 “Community Theatre Review: ‘The Last Five Years’ at Showtimers Begins, Ends with Goodbye.”
- Invited Featured Speaker, “Building a Donor Base through Membership,” King Baudouin Foundation’s The Art & Science of the American Fundraising Model: A Study Visit to New York for Senior Executives from European Universities and Cultural Institutions, New York, New York (Annually 2007-2019). Other featured speakers have included Reynold Levy, Lincoln Center; Naomi Levine former Executive Director and Chair of NYU School of Professional Studies' Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising; and Adam Weinberg, Whitney Museum of American Art. Named for the late king of Belgium, the Foundation’s United States arm provides a range of programs in philanthropy.
- Invited Speaker, Association of Arts Administration Educators’ (AAAE) Webinar with Dr. Bob Harlow, author of “Taking Out the Guesswork,” for the Wallace Foundation (April 14, 2017). AAAE represents higher education arts administration programs around the world and serves as a convener, a resource, and an advocate for arts administration education. The Wallace Foundation is a national philanthropy with 1.5 billion dollars in assets. “Taking Out the Guesswork” was part of the Wallace Foundation’s Building Audiences for the Arts initiative.
Theatre Productions (Virginia Tech)
- April 12, 2019 Stage Director “Songs and Scenes from The Sap of Life,” Recital Salon, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia.
- April 5-7, 2019 Producer “Shakespeare’s Garden Exhibit,” ACCelerate Festival, Smithsonian, Washington, D.C. Attendance: 61,369.
- October 31-November 4, 2018 Producer and Co-Director “Poe’s Shadows: An Immersive Theatrical Installation,” the Cube, Moss Arts Center, Virginia Tech. Sponsored by the School of Performing Arts, the School of Visual Arts, the Center for Humanities, the English Department, the Moss Arts Center, and the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology. This immersive theatrical installation attracted 942 visitors.
- Summer 2018 Stage Director Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s Fiorello!, produced in conjunction with the Summer Arts Festival and the School of Performing Arts at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia.
- Summer 2018 Collaborator for the development of a virtual reality version of “Shakespeare’s Garden: An Immersive Sound Stroll Through His Sonnets, Soliloquies, and Scenes,” produced in conjunction with the Athenaeum (Digital Humanities services) and Immersive Environments in University Libraries at Virginia Tech.
- March 22-24, 2018 Creator, Producer, and Co-Director “Shakespeare’s Garden: An Immersive Sound Stroll Through His Sonnets, Soliloquies, and Scenes,” sponsored by School of Performing Arts, the Humanities at Virginia Tech, Voice and Speech Trainers Association (VASTA), the School of Visual Arts, the Moss Arts Center, and the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology. This immersive theatrical installation attracted 1070 visitors. The Cube, Moss Arts Center, Blacksburg, Virginia.
- Summer 2017 Director, George and Ira Gershwin’s Oh, Kay!, produced in conjunction with the Summer Arts Festival and the School of Performing Arts at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia.
- Summer 2016 Director, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s Babes in Arms, as a new experimental summer mini-session course produced in conjunction with the Summer Arts Festival and the School of Performing Arts at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia.
- Arts Management
- Introduction to Acting
- Introduction to Arts Marketing
- Performing History (Special Topics Performance Course)
- Arts Marketing
- Arts Advocacy
- Creativity, Collaboration, and Artistic Decision Making ( part of the MFA Graduate Seminar rotation)
- Development (Fundraising)
- Human Resources in the Arts
- Leadership and Community Engagement
- Strategic Management in the Arts
- Primary Advisor, MFA in Theatre: Arts Leadership
- Director, Graduate Certificate in Arts Leadership
What is your favorite place on campus? Why?
The rehearsal room in Theatre 101 is a wonderfully bright space and has become one of my favorite places on campus. Why? I feel inspired and energized when I am working with students in the space.
What gives you the most satisfaction as a teacher?
When students are so inspired that they challenge themselves to go further and do more than they thought they could.
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