Julie Rada

DU Prison Arts Initiative Program Manager

Professional Biography

Julie Rada is a theatremaker, educator and scholar. She holds an MFA from Arizona State University and attended Naropa and Tisch School for the Arts/NYU for undergrad. Julie has worked on faculty at the University of Utah, Community College of Aurora and Naropa University and has taught the following courses: Prison-Based Theatre, Introduction to Directing, Fundamentals of Acting, Development of Theatre: Ancient Greece through Renaissance, Theatre and Theory, Script Analysis, Theatre Appreciation, Cultural Diversity Seminar and Community-Based Learning and Action.

She has done theatre for 30 years and has worked on over 80 performance projects, with a focus on directing original work and new plays. As a performer and researcher, she has toured nationally and internationally. Her work has been reviewed in BackstageThe Denver PostThe Arizona RepublicThe Rocky Mountain NewsWestwordThe New Times and others. She was a 2015 recipient of the national TCG “Global Connections” grant and has received numerous local and national awards and grants. Julie has worked in the prison system for over seven years, facilitating new works of theatre with incarcerated artists at 7+ facilities and was selected as an artist-in-residence by the National Endowment for the Arts at the Phoenix Federal Corrections Institution. She has founded three arts-based prison programs in three states, present on arts-in-corrections at national conferences, published in journals on prison arts practice and developed a Prison-Based Theatre course for undergraduates at the University of Utah. Additionally she has created theatre with refugees, people with disabilities, youth experiencing homelessness, professional actors and people dying in hospice, infusing her background in psychology and social work into her arts practice.


Julie’s research focuses on aesthetic creative processes forged in and alongside special populations—with a primary focus on theatre in prisons—and explores representation, community building and human relationships. She interrogates the practitioner’s position, through exploring the affectual and ethical responses of those working in community settings as well as the impact of creative processes on the collective and individual experience.

Areas of Research

Prison Theatre
Community-Based Theatre
Devising Theatre
Theatre for Social Change
Site-Specific/Immersive Performance
Experimental Theatre
Performance Art
Physical Theatre

Featured Publications

Rada, Julie, and Rivka Rocchio. “Writing, Bodies, and Performance: Cultural Resistance Behind Prison Walls.” Prison Pedagogies: Learning and Teaching with Imprisoned Writers, by Joe Lockard and Sherry Rankins-Robertson, Syracuse University Press, 2018, pp. 171–189.

Rada, Julie. "Being There…In Prison.” ArtsPraxis, vol. 6. issue 1, 2019, pp. 58-72. 

Rada, Julie. "Anatomy of Performance Training by John Matthews (review)." Theatre Topics, vol. 25. issue 2, 2015, pp. 178-179. Project MUSE. Print and web. <https://muse.jhu.edu/>.

Rada, Julie. 2015. Performing Proximity: Curious Intimacies, by Hill, Leslie, and Helen Paris. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. Review in Theatre and Performance Design Journal. Routledge. Print and web.

Rada, Julie. 2015. Performance and Community: Commentary and Case Studies, by McAvinchey, Caoimhe. New York: Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, 2014. Review in Platform: Postgraduate Journal of Theatre Arts. Royal Holloway University of London. Print and web.


Rada, Julie. 2021. Memento Mori. Grapefruit Lab. Denver, CO: The Savoy Theatre

Rada, Julie. 2020. Antigone. DU Prison Arts Initiative. Limon, CO: DU Prison Arts Initiative.

Rada, Julie. 2020. RECIPE. Grapefruit Lab, Emancipation Theater, and Theatre Artibus. Denver, CO: The Savoy Theatre.

Rada, Julie. 2019. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. DU Prison Arts Initiative. Sterling and Denver, CO: DU Prison Arts Initiative.

Rada, Julie. 2018. BITE-SIZE: Outside the Room. Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Grapefruit Lab, and Theatre Artibus. Denver, CO: BookBar.


Mid-America Theatre Conference (MATC), 2016, Paper Presentation, “Putting Pathology in Its Place: Unlocking Resiliency and Joy in Prison-Based Performance”


100 Top Creatives in Colorado, “Westword”, 2018; 100 Top Creatives in Phoenix, Phoenix New Times, 2014

Community College of Aurora adjunct recognition with NISOD for “Inclusive Excellence,” 2017

Career Services Faculty Recognition Award, University of Utah, 2016

Young Scholar’s Award, University of Utah Geography Department, 2015

ASU Faculty Women’s Association Distinguished Graduate Student, 2014