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William Partlan

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Artistic Dir(ACD) & Assc Profr
Faculty w/Admin Appointment, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 2002

Bill Partlan is associate professor and head of stage directing in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University. He is also the artistic director of Triple Espresso LLC. in Minneapolis, MN. His world premier production of Triple Espresso has been performed in 48 American cities, as well as in Canada, Ireland, London’s West End, in Belgium in Flemish, and in Munich and Berlin in German.

He has directed such well-known talents as Angela Bassett, Delroy Lindo, Mary McDonnell, Frances McDormand, Howard Rollins, and John Turturro in off-Broadway, regional and international premiers over the last 35 years. Known for his work with new plays by such playwrights as David Lindsay Abaire, Lee Blessing, Jeffrey Hatcher, John Patrick Shanley and Robert Schenkkan, Partlan has directed 44 plays at the O’Neill Center’s National Playwrights Conference including premieres of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and Fences.

Partlan directed the world premier of All God’s Dangers, starring Cleavon Little at the Cricket Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Off-Broadway and for PBS American Playhouse. His American-premiere production of Hugh Whitemore’s The Best of Friends was produced off-Broadway by actor Michael Douglas and Producer Circle. He directed Swim Visit and Sacred Journey off-Broadway at Primary Stages. His production of Sacred Journey toured the U.S. and Great Britain, twice. He has directed regionally at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Alliance Theatre Atlanta, The Empty Space Seattle, Florida Stage, Jewish Repertory Theatre in NYC, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Mixed Blood Theatre Minneapolis, New Mexico Repertory Theatre, Philadelphia Festival Theatre, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Trinity Repertory Theatre Providence, Virginia Stage, and Yale Repertory Theatre. 

Partlan was, for nine years, the artistic director of the Cricket Theatre in Minneapolis. He served as Producing artistic director of New Stage Theatre in Jackson, Mississippi and founded and directed the New Play Series at New York’s Bottom Line Theatre where he directed the premier of the Broadway musical, Leader of the Pack, the music of Ellie Greenwich, featuring Darlene Love, Paul Shaffer, Jimmy Vivino, Lenny Pickett and Ellie Greenwich herself. Partlan has directed for National Public Radio’s Earplay Series and has served as an on-site reporter for the National Endowment for the Arts and as Jury Chairman for the 2000 Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre. 

A graduate of Dartmouth College and the National Theatre Institute, he earned his MFA in Directing from the University of Minnesota on a Bush Foundation Fellowship.

  • M.F.A. Directing, University of Minnesota
  • B.A. Magna Cum Laude, Dartmouth College
  • 1st semester of the first year at the National Theatre Institute, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center
Research Interests: 


Effective new play development methods involving playwrights, directors, dramaturgs, actors and designers in a collaborative creative process.

Research Activity: 

Professionally, I develop new versions of my production of Triple Espresso as it is produced in multiple cities nationally and internationally. I direct new works at the Phoenix Theatre in their new play incubator each year and also direct new work at Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis. I annually devlop new work on campus with MFA Playwrights in workshops with MFA directors and student actors.