History of the Program
Originally the Department of Theatre and Dance faculty conceived of establishing a relationship with a professional production company in order to draw upon the expertise of eminent professionals who would come to the department for a limited time to create and teach.Faculty member Dan Snyder, who had worked as a designer for Granada Television Ltd (best known in the U.S. for its productions of Brideshead Revisited, The Jewel in the Crown, and Lost Empires), suggested that the department approach Granada, which had a wealth of contacts in British theater.
Film director Sir Denis Forman, whose sterling achievement was The Jewel in the Crown epic based upon the late American writer Paul Scott’s series of historical novels, The Raj Quartet, agreed to head a committee of leading English theater artists who would nominate candidates for the rotating residency. The program, formally titled the Granada Artists-in-Residence Program at the University of California, Davis, became a reality in winter quarter 1982 when Gordon McDougall joined the department.
Beginning with McDougall’s 1982 production of Goldoni’s The Country Holiday, the Granada program has been part of the artistic life of the Department of Theatre and Dance and the larger Davis community. Directors such as William Gaskill, Julian Amyes, Yvonne Brewster, Annabel Arden, and others also credited with shaping 20th-century theater, have shared their aesthetic viewpoints and professional expertise. Granada artists have guided UC Davis students through the world’s theatrical repertoire in diverse projects that range from Shakespeare’s work to the contemporary realism of Miller and non-realism of Shogo Ohta.
“Quite simply, the Granada Artists-in-Residence program made my success possible,” said UC Davis alumnus Kent Nicholson, who is New Works Director for Theatre Works and previously was associate artistic director for the Magic Theatre, and producing director for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival. “These directors taught me what it meant to be professional while still maintaining the ability and need to explore my work artistically … Several of them have remained colleagues and professional contacts over the years. Without my experience in this program, I wouldn’t be the artist I am today.”
“Some of the best work I’ve ever done has been because of the expertise of a Granada,” writes 1994 graduate James Hiser. “During my final year as a graduate actor, Sarah Pia Anderson took my abilities, raw and developing as they were at times, and in that year’s production of The Crucible was able to coax me to new levels. I greatly valued my time working on that project with Sarah.”
“The professional perspective that the Granada artists brought with them provided for unique sensibilities and approaches that complimented nicely those taught by our core faculty,” says actor Michele Leavy, a 1994 MFA. “Richard Cottrell’s practical knowledge in approaching Shakespeare was an eye-opener for me. I was able to apply his techniques, combined with the Davis MFA training, in a Shakespeare festival immediately after graduation. Thank you, Richard!”