College of Visual and Performing Arts names Juilliard’s Ralph Zito new Department of Drama chair
Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) has announced that Ralph Zito, a theater professional in voice, text and dialects who most recently served as the chair of the Juilliard School Drama Division’s voice and speech department, has been named chair of the Department of Drama.
Zito, who assumed the duties of chair on July 1, is responsible for the creative and academic leadership and vision of the department, including the oversight of administrative and curricular processes; recruitment of new faculty, staff and students; and faculty development and mentoring. He also holds the title of professor of drama.
Zito succeeds Maria Marrero, professor of theater design and technology, who will return to her role on the faculty.
“Ralph brings to the college and the Department of Drama not only a remarkable profile of accomplishments, but also a record of collaboration with faculty colleagues in building programs that nurture excellence and consummate professionalism,” says VPA Dean Ann Clarke. “His vision for the future of theater at SU is complemented by a demeanor of wisdom and grace that will serve us all well. We are excited to begin this new era with Ralph at the helm.”
“Ralph’s academic and professional experience makes him ideally suited to serve as chair of the Department of Drama, one of the few B.F.A. training programs in the country that enjoys a symbiotic relationship with a professional regional theater,” says Timothy Bond, producing artistic director of the department and Syracuse Stage. “I look forward to working with Ralph on future collaborations that will increase the level of excellence at both organizations and solidify SU Drama’s reputation as one of the nation’s premier professional theater training programs.”
“The department’s tremendous resources—a dedicated and experienced faculty, an on-site professional theater, actively involved alumni, an array of off-campus learning opportunities and a dynamic and supportive dean, to name only a few—make it an exciting place to be,” says Zito. “I am eager to begin the work of building upon those resources in order to lead the department to even greater accomplishments in the training of theater professionals.”
Zito began teaching in the voice and speech department at Juilliard’s Drama Division in 1992 before assuming his duties as chair of that department in 1999. He also served as associate director of the school’s mentoring program, which pairs students and faculty from different artistic disciplines to explore life in the arts.
Zito is currently a member of the American Society for the Alexander Technique, for which he also served on the board of directors, and is a member of the Voice and Speech Trainers Association and the Voice Foundation. He was also an instructor at the Chautauqua Theater Company, where he served as artistic associate for seven seasons. His teaching experience also includes positions at Barnard College and numerous guest artist positions at programs around the country.
As a voice, text and dialects coach, Zito has worked on and off Broadway and on national tours for such productions as “The Orphans’ Home Cycle” at Signature Theatre Company, “Awake and Sing!”and “The Light in the Piazza” at Lincoln Center Theater and “The Tongue of a Bird” and “The Merchant of Venice” at the New York Shakespeare Festival. Regional theater credits include numerous shows at the Shakespeare Theatre and Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.; the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, N.J.; Hartford Stage in Hartford, Conn.; the Alley Theatre in Houston; and Center Stage in Baltimore.
Zito has also directed productions for the Juilliard School, Barnard College and the Chautauqua Theater Company. His acting credits include roles in “Much Ado About Nothing,” “Macbeth,” “The Gilded Age,” “Antigone” and “Five by Tenn.”
Zito holds an A.B. from Harvard University and a diploma in acting from the Juilliard School Drama Division. He also completed the Teacher Certification Program of the American Center for the Alexander Technique.
VPA’s Department of Drama offers conservatory-style B.F.A. programs in acting, musical theater, stage management and theater design and technology as well as opportunities for community engagement and interaction with guest artists, many of whom are alumni. Students benefit from the department’s collaboration with Syracuse Stage, a member of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT), through mentorship and instruction, casting in productions, internships, and other interaction with professional theater artists. Drama students may also study in London, England, and Florence, Italy through SU Abroad; in New York City through the department’s Tepper Semester, a rigorous artistic training and immersion program; and in Los Angeles through VPA’s Sorkin in LA Learning Practicum, a week-long immersion in the film and television industry.