University of Rochester

Willis Awarded Fellowship to Teach in Moscow

May 2, 2000

Mervyn Willis, artistic director of the International Theatre Program at the University of Rochester, has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to teach and conduct research at the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in Moscow.

Willis will teach two courses on Shakespeare and film, focusing on the uniquely Russian interpretations and adaptations of the Bard's plays by poet Boris Pasternak as well as the famous Russian film production of King Lear by director Grigori Kozintsev. His students also will compare movies that are based on Shakespeare's works, such as My Own Private Idaho and Chimes at Midnight. The courses will feature Willis' work in both the stage and film productions of Laurence Olivier's Othello.

In addition, Willis will create two short films, including a documentary based on his staging of King Lear in Moscow. He will be working with Vadim Ysouf, the major cinematographer in Russia today and head of VGIK's cinematography department. Willis also will be teaching acting for stage and film.

Willis has had a wide range of experience as a director both in his native United Kingdom and in the United States. He was artistic director of the New Shakespeare Company and directed in such theaters as the Royal Court Theatre in London, the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, and for the Edinburgh Festival. He has directed Shakespeare for the John Houseman Acting Company in New York City, for the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas, and contemporary plays for LaMama Experimental Theatre Club in New York City. Willis taught at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, the Julliard School, and Bard College.

VGIK is the oldest film school in the world, dating back to the first state film school opened in 1919, and offers classes in film and television production, acting, screenwriting, photography, and art direction to students from Russia and other countries.

Willis will spend the fall of 2000 and the fall of 2001 in Moscow.