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Kristen Morgan - Associate Professor and Chair, Design and Media Technology

M.F.A., New York University


Kristen Morgan

What brought you to Eastern?

“I joined Eastern in 2011 while relocating to New England to be near my husband’s family. Before this, I taught at Virginia Tech in a liberal arts Theatre program. Having benefited from a liberal arts education myself, I value teaching Theatre within such a framework. Additionally, Eastern’s small class sizes and the Theatre program’s focus on experimental and student-written plays appealed to me.”

What is your favorite class to teach?

“One of my favorite classes to teach is Immersive Performance Design. This course teaches students how to adapt traditional scripts and other texts into immersive experiences for audiences. In the past, we have created a VR game based on an experimental opera (‘Lulu: A Tale of Rhyme and Punishment’ by Ridge Theater) and a walk-through media installation of Thi Bui’s graphic novel, ‘The Best We Could Do’ as part of the campus NEA Big Read program. I like giving students the tools to think creatively about the many ways in which we can tell stories.”

What are your research interests?

“I have a professional career in the theatre designing scenery and media for live performance. Due to the pandemic and the changes that happened in live performance, I shifted more into documentary filmmaking in the past five years or so. I directed and produced a short documentary about the experiences of women and non-binary theatre designers and technicians (‘We Are Here’), and I am collaborating with my filmmaking colleague Brian Day to make a documentary about how shade tobacco laborers changed the culture of Connecticut (‘Stepping Into the Shade’).”

What do you find most rewarding about teaching at Eastern?

“Getting to have close mentoring relationships with students and watching them develop their creative and collaborative skills during their time here. Also having such great colleagues, both in my department and across the university, to work with creatively.”

Make real, lasting connections and work to maintain them. Reach out to people in your field that you admire and invite them for a cup of coffee.

Kristen Morgan instructing a student wearing a motion capture suit

What is your teaching philosophy?

“Curiosity, creativity and community are the core values of my teaching philosophy. Bring a curious mind to class, problem solve in creative ways, and understand that we are all part of a community where we can care for each other and help each other grow.”

Memorable moments?

“Moving into the Fine Arts Instructional Center, creating ‘Thread City,’ a play about Willimantic’s thread mills, directing ‘The Wolves,’ a play about a girls soccer team and working with the Eastern Women’s Soccer Team to train the actors.”

Career advice to students.

“Get a liberal arts education; designers need to know about philosophy, history, literature, art, science, math, psychology and sociology, just to name a few. The larger your breadth of knowledge, the better equipped you are to analyze a script for design.”

Life advice for graduates

“Make real, lasting connections and work to maintain them. Reach out to people in your field that you admire and invite them for a cup of coffee. Most people are happy to mentor and give advice to young folks just starting out in the field. Don’t be afraid to follow up; a potential employer might not need you at the moment, but when an opportunity arises down the road, make sure that you’re the first person that comes to mind for them. Finally, don't pretend you know more than you do . . . it’s okay to learn on the job!”