theatre + performance + text
Creating, devising, and imagining forms through live, digital and mixed theatrics
director, writer, performer, producer, professor, nonprofit leadership
Heather L. Barfield has an extensive background in theater history, criticism, theory, and practice. She received her Ph.D. in Performance as Public Practice from the University of Texas at Austin. She holds a M.A. in Performance Studies from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and a B.A. in Anthropology from UT Austin. Throughout her career, she has worked as performer, scholar, director, producer, writer, archivist, and arts administrator in the Austin, Texas theater and cultural communities. In Fall 2019, Dr. Barfield conducted theatre research in France as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar. She created community-devised performances and workshop projects titled “Performing Migrant Stories” in collaboration with Aix-Marseille Université, IREMAM , Compagnie La Scène Manassa, Agir in Aix-en-Provence, and OICEM in Marseille.
In 2023, she made a career pivot that utilizes her non-profit leadership and administration skills to take a position as Director of Finance and Operations with IndigiGenius, an organization whose objectives include offering access, education, training, and expertise to Indigenous communities pursuing opportunities in STEM fields.
However, she continues to devise new artistic work within themes of her "cyberdrama" trilogy. Currently in a production process, her latest is Syntax Error: The Quickening of AI. It will have its world premiere at VORTEX Theatre in Austin, May 2025.
Dr. Barfield is Professor Adjunct of performance and theatre history/criticism at Austin Community College, Drama Department. She was selected as a participant of the Global Gender and Women’s Studies Faculty Learning Community for 2020-2021. This unique partnership between Austin Community College and The University of Texas at Austin enabled her to explore how to globalize her curriculum. She is one of ten ACC faculty members who was given this honor. She also teaches Acting at Texas State University.
Barfield’s theatrical credits include the creation and direction of VORTEX’s Wake for the Dark Poet (B. Iden Payne Award for Outstanding Production of a Drama) and her direction of Machinal for VORTEX’s Summer Youth Theatre (B. Iden Payne Award for Outstanding Production of Theatre for Youth). She has performed locally in critically acclaimed shows including VORTEX’s Dark Goddess, Rude Mech’s Dionysus in ’69, and Rubber Repertory’s The Casket of Passing Fancy.
She was an arts writer for The Austin Chronicle and a contributing member of the Austin Critics’ Table.
Her artistic work often incorporates intermodal forms of storytelling through digital and analog methods. In her critically-praised production, Privacy Settings: A Promethean Tale (2016), Barfield and her cast of devised-theater makers explored the complex topics of whistle-blowers, digital privacy, and civil liberties alongside audience-immersive interactions.
In 2022, Dr. Barfield directed a new opera Eva and the Angel of Death, produced by new music collective Density512. The opera is the story of Eva Mozes Kor, a survivor of Auschwitz concentration camp and her struggle towards healing, reconciliation, and forgiveness. She established CANDLES non-profit education center to further inform the public about her and other survivors' experiences.
From 2003-2017, Dr. Barfield was CFO/COO for arts services organization Austin Creative Alliance. She managed the financial, administrative and budgetary aspects of ACA and ninety sponsored project organizations and collaborated with staff on grant writing, marketing, event planning, and production. She was granted an ACA Honors award for her service to the organization in 2017.
She continues to devise, write, produce and direct video and performance installation works as an artist-citizen-scholar. Dr. Barfield recognizes that a healthy and just social ecosystem depends upon vibrant, eclectic, diverse, reflexive, and innovative arts.
Barfield is a 30-year company member of VORTEX Repertory Theatre and has worked as Associate Artistic and Development Director. She volunteers as a board member for Electronic Frontier Foundation-Austin, Alliance Française d’Austin, and Maestro Arts Project. She previously served as Board President of VORTEX Repertory Theatre.
© 2023 by Heather L. Barfield