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Jan. 21, 2020

President's Distinguished Teaching Award


Robert Roznowski

Department of Theatre, College of Arts and Letters

Robert Roznowski is an award- winning actor, director, writer and educator, who uses theater as a tool for deeper learning. He applies the collaborative nature of theater as described in his first book, "Collaboration in Theatre: A Practical Guide for Designers and Directors," to impact the lives of students, faculty and audiences.

Roznowski’s research explores the intersection of acting and psychology. His books, "Inner Monologue in Acting" and "Road- blocks in Acting," examine an actor’s complex thought processes when creating a character. "Inner Monologue" takes a common acting tool and examines it within a psychological framework to discuss what an actor should be thinking onstage when performing. In doing so, he expands and deepens the definition and utility of the onstage inner monologue across styles and genres. "Roadblocks in Acting" examines self-imposed barriers actors place on their work and suggests strategies to combat these challenges.

As a playwright, Roznowski’s work helps shape students’ education in play development. His plays tackle serious subjects, handled with humor, to make difficult issues easier to consider. In each of his new dramatic works, students helped shape the premiere productions while learning advanced theatrical skills and engaging with the deeper philosophical thoughts inherent in creating new theater.

Since arriving at MSU, Roznowski has directed nearly 50 productions on campus and internationally and uses these productions to engage undergraduate and graduate student actors and designers, in developing their skills. Of particular note is his production of Peter Pan, which he set in colonial India to avoid the inherent racism in the original script. To enrich the innovative production of this problematic classic, he partnered with the MSU Bhangra Team, Muslim Studies, the Department of Advertising, the Department of History and Jyotsna Singh from the Department of English.

Roznowski's classes are intellectually challenging, pedagogically experimental and require deep self-analysis. A student explains, “This is by far the hardest class I’ve taken in the department, and I’ve simultaneously loved and hated every moment. I’ve improved tenfold as an actor.” His teaching has brought numerous awards, including the Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year from the President’s Council of State Universities of Michigan.

For effectively teaching the finer points of acting and character development by engaging and collaborating with students in the classroom and on stage as well as renowned research, Robert Roznowski is most deserving of The President’s Distinguished Teaching Award.

By: Heather Bailey

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