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  • Faculty

  • Zishan Ugurlu

    Associate Professor of Theater; Program Director and Departmental Advisor for Theater


    Office Location
    B - Eugene Lang College Building - 65 West 11th Street

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    Zishan Ugurlu


    Zishan Ugurlu, a native of Istanbul, has been working in New York and abroad as a theater artist since 1995. She is a resident actress and director at La MaMa Theater and a member of the Great Jones Repertory Company. She has performed in numerous productions with Great Jones Repertory Company, including Panorama directed by Italian company Motus as part of The Under The Radar Festival 2018. Panorama will be presented in Rimini, Milan, and Bologna, Italy; Ghent, Belgium; Barcelona, Spain; and Seoul, South Korea. She has also acted in The Trojan Woman, directed by Andrei Serban, composed by Elizabeth Swados, in which she toured internationally as Helen of Troy. Under the direction of Ellen Stewart she performed in Draupadi, Oedipus Rex and Yunus. Other roles include the world premier of Dario Fo’s one-woman Peasants’ Bible, Dante in Dante, a one-woman Antigone, Desdomona in Othello, Monique in Koltes’ West Pier, and Medea in Heiner Mueller’s The Medea. She played Carmen in an award-winning production of Robert Woodruff’s Godard-Distant and Right Grand Prix - at the Festival at Theatre in Paris. She is featured in films: The Letter, which was part of the Cannes Film Festival and a short film Dog Race which received many awards at International Film Festivals including the Martin Scorsese Award.

    Zishan is currently working on two directing projects: Music Room by John Runowicz about the prison system in America and working with formerly incarcerated individuals and Fragments, Lists, & Lacuna written by Alexandra Chasin and featuring Judith Butler. She recently directed Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare at Istanbul Municipality Theater for its 100-year anniversary and for the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. Her directing credits include the solo performances The Mom, The Dad, & The Holy Spirit at Mabou Mines, Harlem Blooms In Spring by Jersten Seraile, at Off –Broadway, Theater Row (United Solo Festival), Race Free by Maria Mukuka, at Off –Broadway, Theater Row (United Solo Festival), In the Storm of Pleasure by Daniel Benhamu at Off –Broadway, Theater Row (United Solo Festival Best Debut Award), The Surrender by Toni Bentley at Off-Broadway, The Clurman Theater, Oysters, Orgasms, Obituaries by Raina von Waldenburg (Nominated for New York Innovative Theater Award for Outstanding Solo Performance) and Request Program by F. X. Kroetz. Other directing credits include Agamemnon (in Greek) by Aeschylus, Not About Nightingales by Tennessee Williams, She Talks to Beethoven by Adrienne Kennedy, Elegant Degradation based on Charles Mee’s Orestes 2.0, Marathon Dancing: Letters to Wall Street in the Era of Wonderful Nonsense based on They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? by Horace McCoy, The Judith of Shimoda by Bertolt Brecht, π-ROJECT (in Greek) based on The Persians by Aeschylus, Child is a Father to Man by Philip Kan Gotanda, The Law of Remains by Reza Abdoh, Purge by Sofi Oksanen, Kebap - Mady (in Turkish) by Gianina Carbunariu, The Realm of Darkness by Leo Tolstoy, Baghdadi Bath (In Arabic) by Jawad Al Assadi, The Father by August Strindberg, Temptation by Vaclav Havel, Blood on the Cat’s Neck by Rainer W. Fassbinder, The Bat in Iraq-Insurgency -Counterinsurgency by Alexandra Beech, The Last Supper by Lars Norèn, Operetta by Witold Gombrowicz, Until the Next Whirl by Rumi, Watershed and Serious At All by Tom Soper, Blood Wedding by Federico G. Lorca, Big Love by Charles Mee and The Court of Fehim Pasha by Turgut Ozakman. She has also worked on devised theater pieces such as “Black Market” and “Water Therapy” and created an untitled piece with incarcerated individuals at a maximum-security prison and with formerly incarcerated individuals in New York based on reentry issues. Zishan has been teaching theater classes in prisons since 2008. She is a science fellow at Ligo Project working with Dan McCloskey Lab. She is the founding artistic director of Actors without Borders-ITONY, an ensemble-based theater company committed to introduce well known and highly regarded but rarely produced playwrights to American audiences. The company also strives to work with daring American playwrights. She is the recipient of prestigious Fox Foundation Fellowship, bestowed by Theater Communication Group.

    Zishan hopes to inspire students to “flirt with fear” in the attempts to make the invisible visible and uses Andrey Tarkovsky’s description of an artistic discovery as a mantra.

    “An artistic discovery occurs each time as a new and unique image of the world, a hieroglyphic of absolute truth. It appears as revelation, as a momentary, passionate wish to grasp intuitively and at a stroke all the laws of this world-its beauty and ugliness, its compassion and cruelty, its infinity and its limitations.” - Andrey Tarkovsky

    Zishan Ugurlu discusses teaching and learning at Lang in a project made possible with a grant from Bringing Theory to Practice.

    Degrees Held

    • PhD, Theater Department of Ankara University (Thesis on “The Importance of the Play as a Cultural Concept”);
    • MFA, Directing (Thesis on Staging Concepts of “Raymond Queneau’s Excersises De Style”);
    • MFA, Acting, Columbia University, School of Arts, Theater; 
    • BA, Theater Department of Ankara University (Thesis on “Aziz Nesin: Plays and the Structuralism”)

    Professional Affiliation

    • Actors Equity
    • Screen Actors Guild (SAG)
    • Actor and Director-in-Residence at La MaMa E.T.C.
    • Artistic Director of Actors Without Borders-ITONY
    • Curator of The Gallery at Marmara-Manhattan (2000-2010)
    • Artistic Director of Eugene Lang Productions (2004 - 2011)

    Research Interests

    • To explore the symbiotic relationship between the arts and sciences through the creation of a new theatrical vocabulary.
    • Neuroscience, architecture, film.


    Awards And Honors

    • Martin Scorsese Award, for acting in the film Dog Race
    • Grand Marnier and W. Johnson Awards at the New York Film Festival, for acting in the film Dog Race.
    • Fox Foundation Fellowship, Theater Communication Group (TCG)
    • Best Debut Solo Performance, The One Festival and United Solo festival at Theater Row

    Current Courses

    Audition Monologue Workshop

    Creating Solo Perform

    Directing: Post-Dram Theater (Spring 2020)

    Ind Senior Project

    Ind Senior Project (Spring 2020)

    Independent Study

    Independent Study (Spring 2020)

    Scene Lab: Performing War

    Scene Study: Political Plays

    Scene Study: Prison Plays (Spring 2020)

    Solo Performance (Spring 2020)

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