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Abbi Manoucheri


European Devised Performance Practice, MFA

Abbi is an actor, director, and playwright, who has worked with Willamette University Theatre Company, the Wyoming Theatre Festival, and the True Acting Institute and has extensive experience in Devising, Japanese Noh and Kyogen theatre, Buto, and the Meisner and Michael Chekov acting techniques. Her writing credits include her plays Sincerely, Johanna, Lipstick: A Feminist Play, and her solo performance What, and Leave Showbusiness? which premiered in Salem, Oregon in 2017. She specializes in teaching the Meisner acting technique and has made a career of acting using this method and teaching it through her directing work and actor coaching across the United States.

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT YOU WERE DOING BEFORE YOU CAME TO COLUMBIA.

I got my BA in Theatre from Willamette University in Oregon. Since then I have worked as an actor/director and acting coach in Oregon, Wyoming, and California. Around the end of 2018, I realized my work was feeling uninspired and unfulfilling so I decided to take a year off from theatre work to get my head screwed on straight and at the end of 2019, feeling well rested and ready for action, I knew graduate school was where I wanted to be!

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE COLUMBIA FOR YOUR GRADUATE STUDY?

I sought out a graduate degree because I felt my work was stagnating and I required a terminal degree to be eligible for the types of jobs I wanted to be hired for. When I was auditioning for schools, there was really no one quite like Columbia. They set themselves apart from the others with their unassuming, yet unrelenting passion for diversity and inclusivity in the arts. I was shocked to learn that Columbia’s European Devised Performance program is one of only two devised theatre graduate programs in the US. I was drawn initially to the international element of the program (I have always wanted to make theatre in Berlin!) but I was even more impressed by this passionate community of artists and their collective dedication to creating space for collaboration and unique artistic practice.

TELL US ABOUT A PROJECT YOU’RE WORKING ON THAT YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT.

In addition to all the devising work the EDPP cohorts work on all year, I have a podcast about working in theatre and why I went to grad school called “Liminal Space.” It’s available on Spotify, Google, and pretty much any other place to listen to podcasts!