Rachel Bowditch

Associate Professor, Head of MFA in Performance, School of Film, Dance, and Theatre

Arizona State University

3625 E. Ray Road Apt 2033
Tempe, AZ 85044
United States





  Rachel Bowditch (Artistic Director of Vessel) Ph.D. is a performer, theatre director, an Associate Professor, and Head of the MFA in Performance in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre in the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts at Arizona State University. She has a unique international background growing up and living overseas for 18 years. A U.S. citizen but born in Rome, Italy she lived in Italy, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jakarta, Indonesia, Singapore, Tel Aviv, London, Paris, France, upstate New York, New York City and currently Phoenix, Arizona since 2006. Living in Asia and Europe during her formative years and her extensive international travels has deeply connected her to a theater far removed from American Realism. Her studies at Skidmore College, the British American Drama Academy (BADA), Dell’ Arte School of Physical Theatre, Ecole de Jacques Lecoq International School of Physical Theatre, Suzuki and Viewpoints with Anne Bogart and the SITI Company, and becoming one of the six certified instructors in the rasaboxes actor training technique have helped her move toward achieving her vision of theater. She received her Masters degree and Ph.D. in Performance Studies, Tisch School of the Arts at New York University in 2006. Richard Schechner was her dissertation director. Since 1996, as the artistic director of Vessel, she has presented original work in New York City at HERE Performing Arts Center, the American Living Room Festival, the Ontological-Hysteric Downstairs Series, the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, the New York International Independent Film Festival at Madison Square Garden, the GenArt Summer Arts Festival, the New York International Fringe Festival, The Kitchen, Mixed Blood in Minneapolis, the Mesa Contemporary Arts Center, Scottsdale Museum of Modern Art, the Phoenix Art Museum, Taliesin West, and Tempe Center for the Arts among other venues. Her site-specific 'atmospheric' performances Transfix, Spectrum, Chrome, Aurora, Equinox, and Abraxa have been presented with over 60 performers in over 30 venues and site-specific locations from Times Square, Grand Central, Central Park, Tompkins Square Park, Sedona, Arizona and Imperial Dunes, California among other sites. Vessel has been commissioned by Mesa Performing Arts Center’s Festival of Creativity (March 2012) and SPARK (2013 and 2015), Scottsdale Public Art for The Art of Maintenance: Fish Herding on the Scottsdale Canal (January 2010), Spectrum: A Winter Solstice Sunset Ritual and Community Waterfall for the Soleri Bridge Dedication (2010), Still Life at the PHX Art Museum (2014), the opening of the I.D.E.A. Children’s Museum in Mesa, and featured on the cover of the Visit Mesa visitor’s guide (2014). In 2010, her retrospective at the Monorchid Gallery in Downtown Phoenix featured photographs by Chris Loomis, a live video remix of Transfix by Adam Cooper-Terán, live sound sculpture by Glenn Weyant, a live remix of T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland by Logan Phillips, installation art by Saskia Jorda and Simon De Aguero, and the live performance of Transfix. With a $25,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant, she directed the world premiere of The Sun Serpent with Childsplay written by José Cruz González and composed by Daniel Valdez (Teatro Campasino) at the Tempe Center for the Arts in October 2011 and remounted as the featured performance of the Second's Festival at Mixed Blood in Minneapolis in 2014. The production was featured in American Theatre (January 2012).  It received 11 Arizoni Award nominations and won 6 for Best Direction, Best Costume/Masks, Best Lighting, Best Sound, Best Set, and Best Overall Professional Production in 2011. At ASU she has directed Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal, Naomi Iizuka’s Anon(ymous), Deborah Stein's Bone Portraits and The House of the Spirits (Caridad Svich based on the novel by Isabel Allende) on the Galvin Mainstage. Bone Portraits was voted as one of the best shows in Phoenix for 2009 for “Innovative Design and Staging” in the Arizona Republic. Her innovative use of multi-media in Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal and her original work The Ophelia Project have been featured in Live Design (October 2008) and American Theatre (January  2009). In November 2013, she directed Asylum, an immersive site-specific performance at the historic Ice House, the first immersive performance of its kind in Phoenix.   Her performance and directing work has been featured and reviewed in American Theatre, the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Theatre Journal, TDR, Live Design, The Village Voice, Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, Channel 8/PBS, ABC 15 News, and the Arizona Republic among other publications. As a performance studies scholar, her work intersects experimental performance, ritual, festival and utopian theory, and movement pedagogy. Her two books include On the Edge of Utopia: Performance and Ritual at Burning Man (University of Chicago Press/Seagull Books 2010) and Festive Bodies: Performing Utopia and Resistance in the Americas co-edited with Pegge Vissicaro (Forthcoming University of Chicago Press/Seagull Books). She presents both her scholarship and theatre research at conferences nationally and internationally. A complete profile of her artistic and scholarly work can be seen at www.rachelbowditch.com and www.vesselproject.org.

Movement Specialties:



Devised Theatre



Neutral Body Technique

Performance Art

Physical Theatre




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