Christine Mary Dunford

Director/Associate Professor



PhD, Performance Studies, Northwestern University; Master of Arts, Anthropology, University of Illinois at Chicago; Bachelor of Arts, Theatre, Northwestern University



As a theatre artist, Christine Mary Dunford has been an ensemble member with the Tony Award winning Lookingglass Theatre Company since 1989, and has acted in, written/adapted and/or directed nearly three dozen Lookingglass productions. Most recently, in 2020, Dr. Dunford inaugurated the title role in a world premiere of Lookingglass’ latest play, Her Honor, Jane Byrne, by J. Nicole Brooks, about Chicago’s first female mayor who took on the “machine” and moved into Chicago’s Cabrini Green complex in order to shed a light on the state of public housing and the lives of residents who live there.  Also of note, in 2013, Dr. Dunford directed her own adaptation of the New York Times best-selling novel, Still Alice, by Lisa Genova, for Lookingglass as part of the company’s 25th anniversary season. Still Alice is being produced at small theatres across the globe and is enjoying a run as a popular choice for student high school theatre competitions across the USA. Dunford is currently writing a new play/adaptation commissioned by Lookingglass' through the Glassworks new work development program.

As a teaching artist, Dr. Dunford co-founded the Lookingglass Education and Community program and has taught with the program until the last few years. She is also a founding teaching artist with the Chicago Arts Partners in Education (CAPE) program. Over the years Dr. Dunford has taught at Northwestern, DePaul and Roosevelt universities, and at Truman College. Teaching areas include adaptation, analysis and performance of literature, performance of non-fiction, performance ethnography, performance of urban space, acting, and ensemble creation of new work. 

In addition to creating theatre and teaching, Dr. Dunford worked for over a decade as an applied urban anthropologist, mostly with The Field Museum where she has conducted original research with the Environment, Culture and Conservation (ECCo) program (formerly the Center for Cultural Understanding and Change) about how residents in Chicago’s diverse communities understand and make connections to issues of conservation and climate change. In addition, from 2008 to 2012 Dr. Dunford used anthropological methods to conduct collaborative, formative evaluations of a number of new city-wide community engagement programs sponsored by The Field Museum, Northwestern University, and/or the City of Chicago Department of Environment. She has also worked as an independent consultant to conduct qualitative evaluations of a number of new programs that involve multiple partners like large universities and community organizations.

In 2009, Dunford combined her interest in teaching, research, and performance and co-founded The Memory Ensemble, a project of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s Mesulum Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease and Lookingglass. The Memory Ensemble is an on-going research/intervention program that uses improvisational performance activities to improve quality of life for people in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.

Dr. Dunford’s research interests include performance of environmental discourses, the production and construction of space and place, connections between performance and memory, and the radical potential of performance ethnography.


Courses (Co)Developed

Teaching Artist Seminar

Teaching Artist Practicum

The Business of Theatre: A Career in the Arts

Capstone: Senior Project

Courses Taught

Acting I: Fundamentals
Page to Stage: Adaptation of Text for Theatrical Performance
Performance Ethnography