Heidi Coleman

heidi coleman
Associate Senior Instructional Professor
Midway 201

Whether as a game designer, director, teacher, or advisor, my background as a dramaturg of new work is my foundation and I approach both written and embodied projects as experimental investigations.  As one of the founding directors of The Fourcast Lab, a transmedia design collective based at The University of Chicago that creates Alternate Reality Games (ARGs), pervasive games, cross-platform stories, and networked performances.  Most recently, Professor Patrick Jagoda and I co-directed two game- and performance-based interventions to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic—A Labyrinth and ECHO—which included hundreds of quests and a video-based choose-your-own-adventure format that led middle school, undergraduate, and graduate students, as well as staff and university alums, through a series of tests that kept them connected to one another in a very difficult time.
Past projects have been fortunate to have received support from the Neubauer Collegium and with the team, I am currently developing an intervention that engages middle school students in a curriculum about climate change, environmental science, and twenty-first-century skills. The project will generate empirical data via mixed methods research (quantitative and qualitative) on using game-based learning to educate students about one of the most urgent and complex problems of our time. The grounding hypothesis is that humanistic knowledge—especially linked to storytelling, games, and media—can be used to strengthen STEM pathways. The timing of this project, amid the COVID-19 transition, is especially important, given the search across educational institutions for effective hybrid learning methods. The project hopes to achieve a completed game and a replicable remote learning structure that, in future iterations, can scale to the level of Chicago Public Schools in a citywide game.
While exploring the intersection of games and performance has become a more recent passion, my roots in theater, particularly in collaborating new work, leaves me grateful for my work with Anne Bogart, Andrei Serban, Tina Landau, Frank Galati, and Tony Kushner at companies including The Magic Theater in San Francisco, The La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, The Signature Theater in New York and Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago.
At The University of Chicago, I have had the opportunities to develop programs and launch initiatives including serving as the Director of Undergraduate Studies and Director of Performance Programs from 2003-2017 as well as the founder and director of the Chicago Performance Lab from 2007-2017.  Additionally, I have been a founding committee member of the Committee for Theater and Performance Studies, The Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, The Arts Council, and the Reva and David Logan Arts Center Project Team.
In addition to being a faculty member of the Committee for Theater and Performance Studies, I am also serve as resource faculty for Media Arts and Data Design.