Alum spotlight: Morgan Barbour (BFA ’14)

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Morgan Barbour, BFA in Performance, 2014     

While at VCU, Morgan and Caroline Downs (now Siavichay) wrote a play called By the Bi, about the universal bisexual experience. Morgan describes the approach as “very much last year drama school.” After graduating, they took it to the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival with a cast of 7 VCU students. It was the first ever bi show at the festival.

“We lived in Dublin for a full year” and toured the show in London, Edinburgh and Amsterdam. In 2016, Morgan moved to London for her Master of Fine Arts in movement direction at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

Morgan worked on shows in London before moving to New York, where she collaborated with acting professor Wesley Broulik at Saratoga Shakespeare Company. She was movement director for 2 productions, then she went to University of Nebraska – Lincoln as a guest artist at Nebraska Rep.

More recently, Morgan got a new UK visa as her own business, “and it will switch to an arts visa, then hopefully full citizenship.” Pre-COVID, she was working in Germany, France, and the Netherlands, as well as the UK. During the lockdown, she stayed with a friend in London and “spent an entire year with a full-size trapeze rig and camera.”

Morgan wrote the opening chapter of a book that’s coming out, Palgrave Handbook of Gendered Violence and Technology. She’s also working on Community Standards with the Worldwide Web Foundation and the United Nations as part of a presentation on digital abuse.

Looking back at her successful early career, Morgan considers herself, “incredibly fortunate to be able to make my entire living in the industry. I wouldn’t have expected that when I was a student. I had the least formal theatre experience of anyone in my year.”

Photo by Jasper Johns

When she works now, she sometimes thinks of her former VCU professor Patti D’Beck (a former Movement professor in the department). “Not a day goes by that I don’t channel a bit of Patti. She was very enthusiastic and sometimes used sounds instead of words.” She also credits teachers Drew Richardson and Wesley Broulik, “they took leaps of faith for me. I told them in my senior year what I wanted to do and they said ‘OK, that’s crazy.’ Wesley later sent me apology email the same day he offered me a job.”

Compiled by Liz Hopper, professor emeritus, and Jerry Williams (BFA ’71) for the June 2021 Theatre Alumni Newsletter.