Smith appointed director of Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film

Harris Smith
Harris Smith

Smith appointed director of Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film

calendar icon27 Jan 2017    

Lincoln, Neb.--Harris Smith has been appointed Director of the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Smith has been previously serving as interim director since Paul Steger stepped down as director to return to the faculty on June 30, 2016.

“These are exciting times for the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film, with both the re-launching of the Nebraska Repertory Theatre and the establishment of the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts,” said Hixson-Lied Endowed Dean Charles O’Connor. “Harris has great experience in leading the School in an interim capacity, and I know he will bring steady leadership as the permanent director. I look forward to continuing to work with him to continue to grow the School as one of the top training programs for actors, directors, designers and filmmakers in the region.”

Smith began at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in the fall of 1999.

“I cannot think of a more exciting time to be part of the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film,” Smith said. “There has never been a dull moment since my arrival to the university some 17 years ago, and I had no idea of the opportunities that would be afforded to me. We are consistently being challenged to be forward thinking in our pedagogy, research and creative activity, which makes being part of the University of Nebraska such a special and unique experience.”

Smith earned his M.F.A in Acting from the University of Washington, School of Drama and his B.A. from Montana State University.

Harris is a Certified Teacher of stage combat through the Society of American Fight Directors and is a member of Actor's Equity and the Screen Actor's Guild. His work as an actor, fight director and movement coach includes:  St. Louis Black Repertory, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Nebraska Repertory Theatre, Capital Repertory (N.Y.), Seattle Children’s Theatre, Utah Shakespeare Festival, A Contemporary Theatre (Seattle), Sacramento Theatre Company, Shakespeare on the Green (Nebraska), as well as other national and international venues.

Smith’s appointment follows two recent leadership appointments in the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts.

Andrew Park began Jan. 2 as the artistic director for the Nebraska Repertory Theatre and research assistant professor in the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film.  Park is an award-winning artistic director, stage director, playwright, lyricist and puppeteer. He is the founding artistic director of Quest Theatre Ensemble and was the artistic director of the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago prior to coming to UNL.

Megan Elliott began in January as the founding director of the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts. She was previously manager of leadership and community connections at the University of Technology Sydney in Australia and former director and CEO of digital media think-tank X Media Lab.

The center was made possible by a $20 million gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation from the Johnny Carson Foundation in 2015. It will focus on virtual production, film, design, technology and commerce and will explore the boundaries of where cinematic storytelling intersects with artificial intelligence, science, the humanities, computer science, engineering, music, fine arts and other disciplines.

Courses and curriculum are being developed, and students are expected to begin enrolling in fall 2018. The center will be located at 1300 Q St. and is scheduled to be completed by fall 2019.

“Now that our leadership team is in place for the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film, Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts and Nebraska Repertory Theatre, we can move forward on new initiatives and planning,” O’Connor said. “I know our faculty, students, alumni and friends will look forward to working with Harris in his new capacity.”