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Michael Fields


MICHAEL FIELDS is a founding member and former Producing Artistic Director of Dell'Arte International (for 45 years). He was also the Director of the California State Summer School for the Arts. He is the founder and director of Longshadr.


Michael has directed theatre productions nationally and internationally, including new adaptations of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and Stephen King's MISERY in Aarhus, Denmark, a new adaptation of TARTUFFE at the Alley Theatre in Houston, a new GRAND GUIGNOL work for the Swedish National Theatre and was a resident director at Het Vervolg in Maastricht, Holland, directing six productions over five years.  He also directed a critically acclaimed collaborative production of PEER GYNT with Dell’Arte and Jomefru Ane Teater of Denmark.

Michael was a member of the Board of Directors of Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national service organization for the American non-­‐profit theatre. While on the TCG board, Michael served as the president of the International Theatre Institute/USA. He has been a member of the National Endowment for the Arts Theatre Panel and was appointed to the California State International Arts Advisory Committee.


Michael is a master teacher of Physical Performance Styles at the Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre, and has also taught for the California Institute of the Arts; the Dutch National Theatre School; Teater Studion in Stockholm, Sweden and at the Aarhus University "Dramaturgi Institute" in Denmark. He also served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Missouri at Kansas City's Theatre M.F.A. Program.


As an actor in the Dell'Arte performing ensemble, he has been a recipient of San Francisco Critics Circle, San Diego Critics Circle and Los Angeles Drama-­‐Logue awards for Performance and Writing. He was an invited guest speaker at the first International Mask Conference in Venlo, Holland, with Dario Fo, Donato Sartori and Jacques Lecoq and has had articles published in a variety of national and international publications including Critical Perspectives, Writings on Art and Civic Dialogue. Michael was a recent recipient of a grant from the James Irvine Foundation for Leadership Advancement and recently completed the Public Narrative class at the Harvard/Kenney School of Business.


I am a theatre artist. And, for me, that includes, by choice, acting, directing, teaching, being part of an ensemble and especially the making creative work that is deeply connected to community. I was one of the group that developed something that is now called “theatre of place”. Theatre by, for, about and often with community. And I marry that with the physical theatre traditions at the center of my practice, which are rooted in “popular theatre” (“of the people”).
I was at the beginning of a lot of things at Dell'Arte. I came to be a part of it at the age of 21. Now, 45 years later, I find myself, a young elder, the white haired, white guy in the room, but still as passionate about the possibilities of the work as ever. I came from a working class family. My father had the privilege of going to Seattle University (a Jesuit School) on the G.I. bill following WWII, the first of his family to go to college. And he gave all us kids the privilege of going to Jesuit schools. My father had a phrase he would always repeat about the Jesuits..."they don't teach you what to think, but how to think". I found that to be true. Questioning the status quo is in my DNA.

I was in the last group drafted to go to the Vietnam war. My lottery was lucky number 5. My resistance to the war radicalized me in several ways and it was that resistance that led me to work in the theatre. That era, the late 60's early 70's, were filled with movements from civil rights to an unjust war to environmental conflicts to a class struggle. The theatre was often pointedly political. Nixon canceled the draft 2 weeks before my induction. Luck.

I enter into the community space to listen and be a partner.

I enter into the creative space to collaborate on making work that matters.

I enter into the performance space to be in dialogue with community via ferocious play.

I enter into the teaching space to discover along with the students. I am curious. I want to keep learning.

I believe in the seriousness of comedy. I believe in the power of the theatrical event to bring people together in the service of a great whole. In this moment of great efforts for racial justice, amidst pandemic destruction, and economic inequality, I believe that the act of theatre is essential.

I am a father, partner, and member of this rural community where I live. I live in a house on unceded Wiyot land that looks down on the Baduwa't (Mad River). All of that influences what I do and who I am. I have worked a lot internationally as a director and teacher, and at one point, for several years, I was head of the International Theatre Institute of the USA and on the board of directors of TCG. In that role (pre-pandemic), I had the privilege of traveling a lot in the world and experiencing many cultures via their creative work and processes. For 30 years I was involved with the California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA) first as chair of theatre and then director. This program is for high school students from every corner of California. I strongly believe in the next generation.


Dario Fo, an Italian, playwright and actor, wrote this which I ascribe to:

A theatre, a literature, an artistic expression that does not speak for its own times, has no relevance.


Long term, my intent is to keep creating, in partnership with people and efforts that contribute to the life and health of this rural place (specific projects outlined in other grant sections). I will continue to teach and to mentor. I was recently struck by this statement from Aislinn Rose, “For the first time in a long while, the future feels inventable, rather than inevitable.”

 I continue to explore what it means to be an “elder”. At this moment in my life, work, and practice, my aspirations are centered on being in service to what will come.

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