Matthew is an educator and theatre artist. He lives in San Francisco with his partner Wade and their two unnervingly adorable dogs Poppi and Ramsey along with an equally unnerving amount of books.
He is the chair of the School of Theatre at Oakland School for the Arts (OSA) where he is also on the faculty of the English Department. He is co-founder of San Francisco Summer Arts Collective which pairs established artists and young artists in an apprenticeship setting. He recently served as an arts education advisor to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and joined the literary committe of Crowed Fire Theatre. Most recently he was selected for a grant award from Cal Humanities as part of their program Exploring the Legacy of Race and Ethnicity in California funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. This is in recognition of his work in bridging the arts and humanities in education.
Matthew earned a BA in English from UC Berkeley. There he studied under two of the most respected scholars in medieval and Renaissance literature: Alan Nelson and the late Anne Middleton. He specialized in Middle English language and literature (writing his thesis on Chaucer and Scottish contemporary Robert Henryson). He also conducted research into various fields of literary history and theory which he continues to pursue in his teaching practice today. Particular areas of emphasis include gender performativity, poetics, linguistics, and literary history.
He trained as an actor primarily at ACT, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and Upon These Boards, in directing at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and in playwriting at Central Works.
Matthew has been active in the Bay Area theatre scene for the better part of two decades, starting out as an actor with companies such as TheatreFIRST, Los Altos Stage Company, Porchlight Theatre Company, Mill Valley Shakespeare Festival, and Willows Theatre Company among others. He then turned to directing, mounting productions across the Bay Area, initially specializing in classical theatre and later expanding to theatre of all periods and genres.
His focus on voice and text has made him a sought-after coach in these areas, and he has been working with actors and theatre companies in addition to implementing voice and text pedagogy at OSA.
Matthew began as a playwright by adapting Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice for Theatre Bay Area's Shakespeare Marathon. Since then his adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts and world premiere original play Salome have been given full productions in the Bay Area. He recently completed a new version of Euripides' tragedy The Trojan Women set in Oakland which received its world premiere as part of Heart of Oakland: Oakland School for the Arts Showcase. Matthew's site-specific play Walls' Fall - written for performance at the Getty Mansion in San Francisco - received its world premiere there in April 2016 in front of an audience of prominent artists and arts philanthropists.
His new play The Oresteia (inspired by Aeschylus) will have its world premiere at OSA April 20-30. It was paired with a symposium he organized (titled Art to Activism to Change) which focused the role of art in pushing for social justice and brought together leading theatre artists and scholars and artists. It was this project that won him a grant award from Cal Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities for his efforts to bridge the arts and the study of history.
This summer he joined the literary committee of Crowded Fire Theatre. He was also recently commissioned by the Throckmorton Theatre to write their inugural holiday panto. Click on "Currently" above for more information.
He is also passionate about passing on his training to others and has taught courses in acting, writing, audition technique, arts history, and dialects at schools and theatre companies throughout the region.
Matthew is co-founder of the San Francisco SummerArts Collective, created in association with Workshop Residence. The program pairs established artists with young practitioners in an immersive two-week apprentice program ending in a gallery showing. There Matthew has shown his work in text-based installation and site-specific poetry.
His broad expertise has lead to teaching and lectureships at Contra Costa College, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, and the Thiel Foundation, among other training and education institutions.
Recently he completed work as an education advisor to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which sought his expertise in cultural/literary theory and making it accessible in the secondary education classroom. Matthew consulted on an online database of lesson plans and materials for teachers to use in supplementing their humanities curriculum with paintings and sculptures from the permanent collection of the Legion of Honor. This site is scheduled to go live in the fall of 2017.
Matthew has held faculty positions at the Academy of Arts & Sciences and the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, where he was an artist-in-residence teaching theatre history, aesthetics, and introductory stage design. He went on to briefly chair the Musical Theatre and Theatre Technology departments before his departure to Oakland School for the Arts (OSA).
Matthew is currently the Chair of the OSA School of Theatre and developed its playwriting/directing program into the only four-year program of its kind in the country at the high school level. Students from this unique new program have already gained admission to UCLA's prestigious Integrated Studies Sequence, Carnegie Mellon's dramaturgy BFA program, and the BA-Theatre program in writing and directing at Emerson College.
As a teacher of acting his focus has been on text and voice, joining the methods and techniques of Cecily Berry and Kristin Linklater with the acting theories of Stanislavski and Michael Chekhov. OSA's intense focus on text makes it unique among pre-professional training programs.
He regularly directs mainstage productions at OSA, most recently curating a festival dedicated to the plays of Samuel Beckett and directing productions of Endgame, Not I, Play, and Rockaby, some of which have not been seen in the Bay Area for decades.
In his role as chair he continues to develop collaborations with respected local arts organizations such as Crowded Fire Theatre, The Flight Deck, Ubuntu Theatre Project, and San Francisco Opera.
Matthew's students in all fields of theatre have gained admission to BFA and BA programs at NYU-Tisch, Carnegie Mellon, CalArts, Emerson College, Boston University, UCLA, USC, University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theatre, University of the Arts, Pace University, Columbia College Chicago, The New School, and elsewhere.
As a member of the English Department at OSA, Matthew's focus has been largely on pre-1900 literature, and he has had the chance to leverage his scholarly background and interests. Specific units he has developed have included those on poetics, Old/Middle English literature and language, medieval feminisms, literary translation, novel theory, linguistics, and semiotics. This year he is introduced OSA's first-ever course in Literary Theory.
(PRESENT & PAST*)
Oakland School for the Arts
Chair, School of Theatre / English Department Faculty
[Official OSA Bio]
Crowded Fire Theatre
San Francisco Summer Arts Collective
Co-Director & Writer-in-Residence [Program Site]
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco*
Advisor, Secondary Education Curriculum & Arts Integration
Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts*
Chair, Musical Theatre & Theatre Technology Departments
Academy of Arts & Sciences (San Francisco)*
English Department Faculty
Napa Valley Shakespeare Festival*
Resident Dramaturg & Speech Coach
San Leandro Players Theatre Company*
Resident Director & Playwright
Willows Theatre Company, TheatreFIRST, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Los Altos Stage Company, Mill Valley Shakespeare Festival, Napa Valley Shakespeare Festival, Palo Alto Players, Upon These Boards, Staged Hereafter, Dragon Theatre.
Oakland School for the Arts, Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, Academy of Arts and Sciences, Mission High School (SF), Contra Costa College, Bay School of San Francisco, San Domenico School
University of California, Berkeley
Areas of Emphasis: Poetry, Medieval Literature, Shakespeare
San Francisco State University
Graduate Study: Secondary Education
Chair, School of Theatre - Oakland School for the Arts*
Faculty, English Department - Oakland School for the Arts*
Literary Staff, Crowded Fire Theatre*
Co-Director & Writer-in-Residence, San Francisco Summer Arts Collective*
Advisor, Secondary Education Curriculum & Arts Integration - Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Chair, Theatre Technology Department & Musical Theatre Department - Ruth Asawa School of the Arts
Faculty, English Department - Academy of Arts & Sciences
Guest Lecturerships: Contra Costa College, SF Shakespeare Festival, YPTMTC, Bay School of SF
THEATRE - DIRECTING
Palo Alto Players
Our Country's Good [press interview here] - "A transformative production" (Palo Alto Online)
San Leandro Players Theatre Company
An Ideal Husband, Tartuffe, Arms and the Man, Suddenly Last Summer, Ghosts*, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Salome**, Mrs. Warren's Profession, The Importance of Being Earnest
* World premiere adaptation by Matthew Travisano
**World premiere original play by Matthew Travisano / Critics Choice - East Bay Monthly
Los Altos Stage Company (formerly Bus Barn Stage Company)
Arms and the Man
Picasso at the Lapin Agile [review here] - "Expertly directed" (The Almanac, SF Peninsula)
The Heidi Chronicles - "Tightly directed" (Bay Area News Group) / "Quite evocative" (Metro Silicon Valley)
Actors Ensemble of Berkeley
The Matchmaker [review here] - "Nice touches" (Berkeley Daily Planet)
Douglas Morrisson Theatre
Life with Father
Napa Valley Shakespeare Festival
As You Like It (Associate Director)
Othello (Voice/Text Coach)
THEATRE - PLAYWRITING
San Leandro Players Theatre Company
Ghosts - adapted from the play Henrik Ibsen
Salome - original play based on works by Oscar Wilde, Gustave Flaubert, and Hugo von Hofmannshtal
Oakland School for the Arts - School of Theatre
The Trojan Women - new verse version based on the play by Euripides
The Oresteia - new verse version based on the trilogy by Aeschylus
Walls Fall (site-specific piece at the Getty Mansion)
Random Acts Theatre Company
The Merchant of Venice - adaptation created for Theatre Bay Area's Shakespeare Marathon
THEATRE - ACTING
Willows Theatre Company
1776 (role: Dr. Josiah Bartlett / director: Rich Elliot)
YPTMTC - San Francisco
Spring Awakening (role: Adult Male / director: Nicola Bosco-Alvarez)
Mill Valley Shakespeare Festival
Love's Labours Lost (role: Boyet / director: Susannah Woods)
The Colour of Justice (role: Clifford Norris / director: Randall Stuart)
Los Altos Stage Company
Pierre and Marie (role: Pierre Curie / director: Linda Piccone)
San Leandro Players Theatre Company
The Romantic Age (role: Gervaise / director: Daniel Dickinson)
Mary Rose (role: Simon / director: Daniel Dickinson)
The Comedy of Errors (role: Balthasar / director: Marilyn Langbehn)
Random Acts Theatre Company
Hamlet (role: Player King + Ensemble / director: John Wilk)
The Merchant of Venice (role: Bassanio / director: Debbie-Lynn Carriger)*
Romeo and Juliet (role: Paris / director: Susannah Woods)
The Lady's Not For Burning (role: Humphrey / director: Susannah Woods)
Wit (role: Dr. Jason Posner / director: Jessica Tanner)
Porchlight Theatre Company
A Month in the Country (role: Narrator / director: Randall Stuart)*
Upon These Boards
Pericles, Prince of Tyre (role: Thailard + Ensemble / director: Randall Stuart)*
Lysistrata (role: Soldier / director: Randall Stuart) - Lysistrata Project @ Berkeley Repertory Theatre
* = full staged reading