Crystal Brian, professor of theater

Crystal Brian, professor of theater, joined Quinnipiac’s faculty in 2000, and her passion for theater and teaching has been changing the lives of Quinnipiac students ever since.

Her unique ability to demonstrate to students the connections that theater has to all aspects of life has quickly built her reputation as an extraordinary teacher. Under her able guidance, students have had the opportunity to bring plays to life not only on campus but throughout the greater New Haven community.

She designed a course titled “Dramaturgy Production Seminar” in cooperation with the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven. The course exposes students to all aspects of theater production at the professional level. “Theater for Young Audiences,” a course she also created, takes students into a local middle school to teach theater to young children.

Outside the classroom, Crystal is adviser to The Fourth Wall, a student theater organization, and a member of the Academic Integrity Committee.

Crystal graduated from Baylor University and earned her master of fine arts in theater and doctorate in theater history and criticism from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Before coming to Quinnipiac, she formed a professional theater production company, The Lost World, which produces regional and world premieres of American plays.

She previously taught at Whittier College in California, where she earned tenure. She and her husband, Chris Van Ness, wanted to move to the East Coast and so came to Connecticut and Quinnipiac. They live in Cheshire with their daughter, Amy Rose.

A Message from the Director

The guiding principle of the Quinnipiac University Theater for Community Program is the conviction that theatre can be a tool to foster student engagement with the local, national and global community.

Through courses and productions that demand imaginative and intellectual connection to communities and social issues outside the typical college student's life experience, young people may come to view their work as a  way to explore complex, topical issues from many perspectives.

In performing the Tectonic Theatre Company's "The Laramie Project," Quinnipiac students identified with the horror of Matthew Shepard's murder; through that identification they confronted, on multiple levels, the human cost of intolerance.

At a time when the nation teetered on the brink of war, Quinnipiac students collaborated with combat veterans in creating "The Antigone Project."

Quinnipiac students, continuing their work on "The Troubles of Romeo and Juliet," an adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy, "Romeo and Juliet," traveled to Northern Ireland to interact with former combatants and victims of the Troubles engaged in the difficult and vital work of connecting across centuries-old divides of hatred and destruction.

The text and video interviews students brought back from the trip were used in developing a new version of the Shakespearean adaptation, this one informed by human interaction as well as formal research.

In an ongoing community collaboration, Quinnipiac students work with elementary school students at a New Haven charter school. One collaboration involved elementary students writing plays which expressed their fears and confusion in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and performing their pieces in a Model United Nations conference on the University campus.

In each of these projects Quinnipiac University students deepened their understanding of the role of "citizen artist" in an increasingly complex and troubled world.