CCM Professor Michael Burnham has been a faculty member since 1984 and when asked about his many years of work for CCM, he muses, simply, “I liked all of them.” He will retire this month, following the conclusion of the school year and his work as director for CCM’s upcoming production of Execution of Justice, which runs April 18-20 as part of this year’s Studio Series.
“Professor Michael Burnham has been the artistic thorn in the side of every student who has entered CCM Drama for the past 29 years,” says Richard E. Hess, CCM’s A.B., Dolly, Ralph and Julia Cohen Drama Department Chair. “He digs into the mind of each and every new student, causing disruption, chaos and sometimes a little irritation, all in service of deeper thinking, harder questioning, more creativity and expansion of possibilities. Michael’s wonderful mind has touched the hearts of every student lucky enough to work with him.”
During Burnham’s time at CCM, he has seen the college grow and develop. “It’s become more joyful here,” he says. “We know ourselves better [as a college] now.” He has also managed to impact every department he has touched. He was at CCM when the Drama Department was born, at the table for the purchase of CCM’s first Genie lift and even found himself playing Falstaff in a personalized fat suit for a CCM production of The Merry Wives of Windsor. Burnham considers all of his memories fondly: “I’ve gotten to do anything I wanted and it’s because I work here.”
“The most amazing thing about my job has been learning to be taught by others – especially someone younger than you or less experienced,” Burnham reflected. “The environment is really alive. We all learn from everyone, sometimes by accident.”
About Michael Burnham
In the last year, Michael Burnham has dramaturged the writing and then directed the premiere of CCM alumna Alison Vodnoy Wolf’s stage adaptation of James Joyce’s Ulysses. He also wrote and directed Prokofiev, Shostakovich: Pieces in the Key of Silence for the chamber ensemble concert:nova, helped CCM Drama students create a series of small plays for the Cincinnati Homeless Commission, assisted a group of School for Creative and Performing Arts students in building and presenting an original piece at the city’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration and directed the premiere of John Ray’s The Sweet, Burning Yonder as part of the Cincinnati Fringe Festival.
Burnham also performs as a storyteller throughout the eastern part of the country and has narrated symphony concerts for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Salt Lake Symphony Opera and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra among others. His adaptation of Stravinsky’s l’Histoire du Soldat (which he directed while playing the Devil) premiered at the Salt Lake Symphony Opera.
For his work as a director, occasional actor and playwright, and for championing the city’s small experimental theatre companies, Burnham received a League of Cincinnati Theatres’ Sustained Achievement Award and has been inducted into the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards Hall of Fame.
Before coming to CCM, Michael was Literary Manager at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, a theater critic for Cincinnati Magazine and a theater and film critic for WGUC-FM. He was also a Fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center.
When given a sabbatical a couple of years ago, he studied theatre with Song of the Goat in Poland and Butoh dancing with Oguri in London and Wales and with Atsushi Takenouchi in France. At CCM, Burnham directs and teaches courses in script analysis, directing, dramaturgy and a class called “The Artist in Society.”