Biography

JON SPELMAN

Jon Spelman received his BA Degree, with Honors, in American History and Literature, from Williams College (Massachusetts); he was awarded the Master of Fine Arts Degree in Theatre by Purdue University (Indiana).  For two academic years, Spelman was an Assistant Professor of Speech and Theatre at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. For five years, Spelman was an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Florida State University and Associate Artistic Director of The Asolo State Theatre in Sarasota, Florida, a professional, non-profit theatre.  At the theatre, he was a director of plays, Director of Touring Programs, Director of the Master of Fine Arts Program, and an actor and writer for its stages. Spelman founded the Florida Studio Theatre, a non-profit professional actors’ and writers’ ensemble devoted to the creation of new work, and was its Artistic Director for its first seven years until he began working full time as a solo performer.

Spelman’s performing, writing, and teaching have been supported by individual grants from The National Endowment for the Arts, The Maryland Arts Council, the Arts Councils of Florida and The District of Columbia, and the National Storytelling Network & the Cummington Press in honor of Harry Duncan. He has been a Creative Artist in Residence at the Blue Mountain Center in upstate New York, and at the Bellagio Center of The Rockefeller Foundation, on Lake Como in northern Italy. Spelman has been called “World-Class” (Los Angeles TIMES), and “a stunning wordsmith and a riveting performer” (Washington POST). The Bluemont Concert Series has labeled him “The Dean of American Storytelling”. He has performed on National Public Radio, at the Smithsonian Institution (for eleven weeks), at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre, The Round House Theatre, at Lincoln Center, at Wolf Trap Farm Park, Off-off Broadway, in the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, England, Mexico, Austria, Japan, Israel, and France, at major performance festivals throughout the US, and at over twenty five hundred other locations in North America, including the Kennedy Center, which commissioned his TALL TALES, WHITE LIES, LOCAL COLOR, AND MONUMENTAL VIEWS: STORIES FROM THE NATION’S CAPITOL. Spelman was also commissioned by Round House Theatre to write and perform OFF THE MAP and FRANKENSTEIN; by Woolly Mammoth Theatre to write and perform ON THE BEDPOST OVERNIGHT; by the Smithsonian Institution to collect and perform stories by and about children in ELEMENTARY SCHOOL; by the Clarice Smith Center For The Performing Arts at the University of Maryland to write and perform DIGGING INTO SHAKESPEARE, and by the Washington Storytellers Theatre to collect and perform the stories in I STILL BELIEVE: THE LIVES OF CHILDREN IN THE HOLOCAUST AND OTHER EXTREMITIES.  TALES OF THE LINCOLN was commissioned by Ford’s Theatre, Washington, DC. His work has been published in a variety of formats. He is featured on five home videos and four audio collections and is a recipient of a Parents’ Choice Gold Award.

Jon Spelman has appeared as a narrator with a variety of choruses and symphonies, including The National Orchestral Institute and The Baltimore Symphony. He has developed more than thirty-two hours of performance material, most of which he continues to present to a wide variety of audiences in a wide variety of venues throughout the US and Europe. He performs at colleges, theatres, schools, libraries, festivals, museums, and arts centers. He was the first American to perform at the International Festival of Solo Performers in Tel Aviv, Israel, and represented American performers at The Colloquium on the Revival of Storytelling held in Paris, France (“Spelman’s story was one of the big grand moments of this meeting”) said Association Le Renoveau du Conte. He has six times been a Featured Teller at the American National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Spelman has received three EMMYS, presented by the Washington Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, for THREE STORIES TALL, which he hosted for six years on NBC4-TV in Washington, DC. He has been honored with a Children’s Radio Award, an Achievement in Children’s Television Award, has been admitted into The Circle of Excellence of the National Storytelling Network, and is listed in WHO’S WHO IN AMERICA.

In addition to performing and teaching, Spelman offers workshops and residencies through both the “Arts Coaches” and the Touring Programs of the Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts. He also regularly offers keynote programs, and college, school and community residencies, which include informal performances, workshops, classes, and work with communities in developing their own stories.

Spelman is married to the choreographer Liz Lerman, and they are the parents of Anna Clare Spelman, born in 1988. The family lives in the historic Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland. Jon is an avid hiker and backpacker.

jon@jonspelman.com         www.jonspelman.com                                                  410-732-0153      213 S. Durham St. Baltimore, MD     21231

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