Doan selected as keynote speaker for Mount Saint Mary’s University Festival

William J. Doan, professor of theater at Penn State Credit: Bill DoanAll Rights Reserved.

William J. Doan, professor of theater at Penn State, will be the keynote speaker for Mount Saint Mary’s University’s Scholarship, Performance, Art, Research, and Creativity (SPARC) Festival. To take place April 19–21, the festival is a celebration of Mount Saint Mary’s University students’ artistic and academic accomplishments. Doan’s lecture, at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 20, in Knott Auditorium, on the university’s campus in Emmitsburg, Maryland, is open to the public.

In his talk, titled “Drifting: A Brother’s Journey Into His Sister’s Traumatic Brian Injury,” Doan will use video and graphic narrative material to take people inside his personal and creative journey through traumatic brain injury and sibling loss. He wrote Drifting, which had its premiere workshop production at Dixon Place in New York City in March 2015, to chronicle his family’s journey after his sister’s accident in December 2012.

Doan, a writer, educator, and solo performer, is co-author of "The Story of Naomi/The Book of Ruth: Gender to Politics, Prophets, Performance, and Power" and "Twice-Used Songs: Performance Criticism of the Songs of Ancient Israel." He has premiered several short plays at the Cincinnati Fringe Festival. Doan is currently adapting "Drifting "into a graphic novel for Penn State Press’ Graphic Medicine series.

Mount Saint Mary’s University faculty member Kurt Blaugher, who nominated Doan to be the keynote speaker, said Doan exemplifies an educator whose faculty research and creative endeavors do more than extend one’s curriculum vitae. “A project like 'Drifting,' which was born out of personal tragedy, but has found its way to a reception by a much wider audience, is to my mind a perfect example of a model creative/research project for all of our students. It crosses intellectual and disciplinary boundaries. It has employed—and continues to employ—cutting-edge research and development models, through its connection to the Arts and Design Research Incubator. Most importantly, however, through giving voice to a brain-injured woman, it clearly dignifies her, displays her family’s struggle, and confronts end-of-life issues that all humanity faces.”

For more information on the SPARC Festival, visit

Last Updated March 17, 2016