Dawn Trook

Institutional Affiliation 
Lecturer, Merritt Writing Program, UC Merced
Professional Bio 

Dawn Trook is a faculty member in the Merritt Writing Program at the University of California, teaching English Composition and Dramatic Writing. The focus of her work is on community advocacy through the arts, in particular, theater. From 1999-2001, she ran Babel Arts, an original performance production company and presenting venue in San Diego, which featured solo performance art, ensemble and improvisational dance, and new music. At Babel Arts, Trook also designed and ran a workshop for people living with HIV and other life-threatening illnesses. Saying Your Piece helped people generate multi-media performance by investigating the stories and images lodged in their bodies as a means to healing and coming to terms with disease. In 2002, Trook moved to Marfa, Texas, where she developed a children’s theater summer camp and after-school program in which youth wrote, performed, and produced their own work. While there, she focused on recruiting community members with no experience in theater as actors for plays she produced. After moving to Merced in 2008, to teach at the UC, Trook formed Project Big Top, a portable production company and arts organization, that seeks to empower and engage communities through the arts.

Area of Expertise 

Since I was very young, I have sought to create community through performance and celebrations and am committed to blurring the line between the two. A trained theater artist, performance artist, improvisational dancer, and poet, my focus has shifted from my own performance and writing to facilitating community-engaged performances as a director, producer, and mentor. I have studied and am studying and implementing the work of theater and performance companies that tell stories of community in an effort to encourage understanding between opposing viewpoints. As a performance producer, I am able to rally participation from a variety of participants, always hoping to combine experienced performers with inexperienced performers as a means to empower individuals through finding their voice and the confidence of holding the space of physical presence in front of witnesses. As an educator and theater director, I specialize in facilitating creative spaces that allow for risk-taking and vulnerable work. I’m also committed to creating performance experiences that engage the audience as participants in the experience, either through interactive scripts, pre/post show dialogue, or the delivery of thought-provoking material. My work is founded on the idea that theater can heal divisions.

Workshop Locations