Director and Playwright Deanna Jent '84 to Speak at 2014 Commencement


Deanna Jent
Deanna Jent

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.—Award-winning director and playwright Deanna Jent, an Illinois Wesleyan graduate whose son Christopher is in the class of 2014, will give the address, "Story and Truth: The Dionysus Connection," during the University's Commencement ceremony at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 4, 2014.

Jent graduated from Illinois Wesleyan in 1984 with a B.F.A. in theatre and a minor in English. She received her Ph.D. in theatre from Northwestern University in 1989 and began teaching full-time at Fontbonne University in 1994.

Now a professor of theatre, Jent also founded Mustard Seed Theatre, a professional company that focuses on questions of faith and social justice and works in-residence at Fontbonne. 

This spring, her production of All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 won five St. Louis Theater Circle awards, including Best Director, Best Ensemble and Best Production of a Musical.

Her play Falling won the Kevin Kline award for Best New Play of 2011, and was nominated for a Drama Desk award for Best New Play produced in New York City in 2012. Falling played Off-Broadway in the fall of 2012, in Los Angeles in the fall of 2013, and has several productions scheduled around the country during 2014. It is being translated into Portuguese for a production in Brazil in 2015. See an IWU Magazine feature.

Jent has also written several stage adaptations of novels that have been produced around the country, including Pride and Prejudice and C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces.

She was selected by the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis as a 2013 “Arts Fellow” and in 2012 was named one of the most influential people in St. Louis by Alive magazine.

She has three children: Christopher (graduating from IWU on May 4), Lindzey and Andy, and lives in Webster Groves, Mo., with her husband, Steve, who is a Waldorf grade school teacher.