Dionne O’Dell, Academic Specialist in the Department of Theatre at Michigan State University, will lead MSU’s Arts, Cultural Management, and Museum Studies (ACM&MS) program as Interim Director, effective Aug. 16, 2022. Kiersten F. Latham, the current Program Director, has accepted a position as President and CEO of Sauder Village in Ohio.
“I am honored to serve as Interim Director for the Arts, Cultural Management, and Museum Studies program,” O’Dell said. “I look forward to continuing the standard of excellence this program has established in service to its students and the greater community.”
O’Dell teaches courses in the ACM&MS program and specializes in teaching children’s theatre and writing/directing plays for youth and the community. She currently serves as Artistic Director of the Sense-Ability Ensemble, a group that creates innovative, multi-sensory, interactive theatrical performances for audiences that are neurodiverse. The group’s most recent production, What if Wilhelmina, adapted from the children’s book by Joseph Belisle debuted on April 29, 2022, and will be presented to area schools in the Spring of 2023.
As the Artistic Director of the Sense-Ability Ensemble, O’Dell wrote and directed FARM! A MUSICAL EXPERIENCE a musical written specifically for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other diagnoses. FARM! toured special education classrooms in Michigan in 2018 and 2019. The Sense-Ability Ensemble’s second play for audiences that are neurodiverse, SODA POP SHOP, was made available to Michigan special education classrooms and the public via YouTube and Zoom performances in 2020 and 2021.
“I look forward to continuing the standard of excellence this program has established in service to its students and the greater community.”
Prior to MSU, O’Dell was the Associate Director of Education at Lincoln Center Theater where she trained New York City public school teachers to incorporate theatre into their classrooms and directed students in the Lincoln Center Theater High School Intensive program productions. She also designed curriculum for numerous stage productions including QED starring Alan Alda, and Kevin Kline in the Shakespeare Thing, both for Lincoln Center Theater; and OTHELLO, for the Aquila Theatre Company’s Shakespeare in American Communities program supported by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
O’Dell has published articles on classical theatre in the English Journal and has written numerous plays and screenplays. In February 2010, her short film script, Dreadful Sorry, was awarded a $100,000 grant by the SC Film Commission. She served as an Associate Producer on the film and Chief Accountant. Dreadful Sorry was an official selection in the Orlando Film Festival in 2013.
O’Dell is a member of the Actors Equity Association and has worked as a performer in regional theatre productions, industrial films, and television commercials. During her tenure and leadership, Kiersten F. Latham elevated the Arts, Cultural Management, and Museum Studies program at MSU. Her accomplishments have included creating new programming and courses in both hybrid and online for more accessible scheduling for professionals and students, developing new curriculum, and creating new mission, vision, and values to enact a Culture of Care.