George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Rick Davis

Dean, College of Visual and Performing Arts
Executive Director, Hylton Performing Arts Center

Contact Information MORE LESS

  • 703-993-8624 (office)
  • College Hall, C200B
    4400 University Drive, MS 4C1
    Fairfax, VA 22030

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Rick joined Mason in 1991 as Artistic Director of Theater of the First Amendment (TFA) and a member of the theater faculty. The company, which presented its final programs in 2012, was nominated for 38 Helen Hayes Awards, winning 12, and originated numerous works that went on to other regional theaters, television, radio, and publication.

Prior to coming to Mason, Rick was Resident Dramaturg and Associate Artistic Director of Baltimore's Center Stage (1986-91), Associate Director and co-founder of the American Ibsen Theater in Pittsburgh (1983-85), and taught drama at Washington College.

Rick has directed a broad range of professional theater and opera productions (more than 40 to date) in venues such as Center Stage, TFA, the Kennedy Center, American Ibsen Theater and Unseam'd Shakespeare Company in Pittsburgh, Players Theatre Columbus, Delaware Theatre Company, Lake George Opera (NY), Opera Idaho, Washington, D.C.'s IN Series, and other companies. He also has worked as dramaturg on more than 30 professional productions, and has directed dozens of plays, musicals, and operas for college and university programs, including the Mason Players.

From 2007 to 2011, Rick served as Mason's Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, working primarily on issues of general and liberal education, international programs, and student academic life.

As Executive Director of the Hylton Performing Arts Center since August 2011, Rick Davis oversees a state-of-the-art venue presenting national and international touring artists annually and serving as home to several resident arts organizations, as well as providing a major resource for Mason students and faculty, community, educational, business, and social events. 
In May 2015, Rick was appointed Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts.  In this capacity he oversees the college’s seven academic programs, its creative, research, and community arts education arms, and its several performance and exhibition venues.  He continues to teach in the School of Theater and work on various directing projects both on and off campus. 

Rick's four books include Calderón de la Barca: Four Great Plays of the Golden Age; his co-translations of Ibsen with Brian Johnston (Ibsen: Four Major Plays, vol. I), which have been performed at leading regional theaters across the country; Ibsen in an Hour (with Brian Johnston); and Writing About Theatre (with Christopher Thaiss). With composer Kim D. Sherman, he is the librettist for the opera Love's Comedy and the oratorio The Songbird and the Eagle, commissioned and premiered by the San Jose Chamber Orchestra. Rick is won the George Mason Teaching Excellence Award (1997) and was named an Alumni Association Distinguished Faculty Member of the Year (2006). He was educated at Lawrence University (BA) and the Yale School of Drama (MFA, DFA). He teaches courses in directing, dramatic literature, theater history, and arts management. 


DFA, Dramaturgy, Dramatic Literature, and Criticism, Yale School of Drama (2002)

MFA, Dramaturgy, Dramatic Literature, and Criticism, Yale School of Drama (1982)

BA, summa cum laude, Theatre and Drama, Lawrence University (1979)

More Information

Appointment: Tenured

Faculty Rank: Professor

Personal Websites:


Current research foci include the drama of the Spanish Golden Age, directing pedagogy, and intermodal approaches to creation and production.

Selected Grants

co-PI, Multidisciplinary Research Initiative, Tier 2: The 100th Meridian Project

Associated Faculty:

Honors & Awards

George Mason Teaching Excellence Award , George Mason University

April 11, 1997

Alumni Association Distinguished Faculty Member of the Year ,

March 28, 2006

Kenneth Tynan Award in Dramaturgy, Yale University, 1983

F. Theodore Cloak Award in Theatre, Lawrence University, 1980

Professional Affiliations

Phi Beta Kappa

Phi Kappa Phi

Eta Sigma Phi

Panelist, National Endowment for the Arts, 1988-90; 1995, 2002, 2007, 2008

Served on Playwright Fellowships panel for three years, Professional Theater Companies Panel and Shakespeare in American Communities panel for two years each. 

Panelist, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, 2004-2005

Served on Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour selection panel and Artists in Communities grants panel.

Panelist, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, 2004-2005

Served on Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour selection panel and Artists in Communities grants panel.

Panelist, Maryland State Arts Council, 1989-91; 1999-2000

Served on theater company's panel for three years; served on “Large Organizations” panel, an interdisciplinary panel that makes grant recommendations on all arts organizations with budgets of more than $1 million.  

Panelist, Virginia Commission on the Arts, 1989, 1992, 2011-14

Served on interdisciplinary panel making grant recommendations on applicants in the Northern Virginia region. Served as member of Playwriting Fellowship panel

Reader, National Endowment for the Arts, 1989-92

Evaluated manuscripts for Playwriting and Opera/Music-Theater grants. 

Member, Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (directors union)

Media Appearance

Host Studio A

In the News

Mason Provost Names New Dean of College of Visual and Performing Arts

Published on March 23, 2015

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‘West Side Story + Roméo et Juliette’ at Young Artists of America and Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras at Strathmore

Published on March 11, 2015

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In Series’ season closer Love and Money, a double thrill

Published on June 19, 2013

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Rick Davis Named Executive Director of Mason’s Hylton Performing Arts Center

Published on July 27, 2011

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Presentations & Performances

The Songbird and the Eagle, oratorio libretto, with music by Kim D. Sherman

San Jose Chamber Orchestra and The Choral Project, 2006

Love’s Comedy, opera libretto based on a play by Ibsen, with music by Kim D. Sherman

Mason Festival of the Arts, June 2008.

Love and Money: The Soldier's Tale and Johnny Schicchi, director/adapter

The In Series Opera Company

Topics: Arts
Schools & Programs