Faculty Feature: Benjamin Gonzales


Jessica Schneider, Campus Life Editor

Department to teach a variety of classes centered on analysis. Some of these include Text Analysis, Theatre History, and Literature. Gonzales then received his Theatre Arts and Drama BA from Washington State University, and an MFA in Theatre Arts (focused on Dramatic Writing) from the University of Idaho. He then received his Master’s in Teaching, and where he was an Associate Clinical Professor in Lighting Design, Playwriting, and Media Literacy. He’s been teaching for 20 years at varying levels. Most recently, he was a guest instructor of Lighting Design and Theatre Technology at the University of Central Missouri.  

“Benjamin’s classes are the best,” one anonymous student said. “[Text Analysis] is the only class I feel motivated to do work for. It doesn’t feel like homework when it’s for him.” Gonzales’ success in student participation may lie in his attention to their well-being. When talking about his time at University of Central Missouri, he said, “I, very unapologetically, made sure that I can use my power, my ability to make sure that [my students] were as taken care of as possible.”  

This goal is what drives Gonzales to do daily check-ins during roll call. Before every class can begin, each student has the opportunity to answer the daily question, or just get something off their chest. The time to talk acts as a sort of “bonding” experience, one student claims. They add, “I feel like his daily role gives us a sense of camaraderie in the classroom that gives space for deeper conversations.” 

Gonzales appreciates the complex conversations his students are able to have. Of his “Expanding the American Theatre Canon” class, he said, “It’s, I think, a higher-level conversation than I’ve been able to have with students in a long, long time.”  

Gonzales is enjoying his time here at Viterbo. He’s able to find joy and inspiration in all four of his classes this semester, saying, “I like them all. I really do—and that’s not a throw away.” Text Analysis and Exploring the American Theatre Canon give him the opportunity to “open the door” to students who haven’t read many scripts before. Theatre History and Literature allows him to dive into history without being “superficial.”  

Women in Theatre, a Theatre-based VUSM course, is a bit of a different story. He acknowledges the “irony of a man teaching Women in Theatre.” “But,” he says, “I am a person of color and multiracial and I have a lot of experience in the idea of being marginalized and representing a culture that is marginalized with that space.” With this in mind, he hopes that he’s “bringing certain things into the curriculum that might be beneficial.” 

This is not Gonzales’ first time working with representation in theatre, as he was the Representation, Equity, and Diversity (RED) Coordinator for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival’s (KCACTF) National Playwriting Program (NPP). The KCACTF is a national theatre program that includes 770 colleges across America. The program gives student playwrights opportunities to develop and stage their plays with new works festivals and renowned playwrights in the field. Currently, Gonzales is the Vice-Chair of the organization, with plans to be Chair next year. His job duties include coordinating all the regions and championing new works. 

Gonzales’ own plays are all available on New Play Exchange, a website for modern playwrights to share their work. Readers have many options to choose from, so Gonzales recommends “Voucher” and “Sour Mash” to begin. Gonzales’ time here may be just beginning, but according to Viterbo students, he’s a fast favorite.