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Highlighting Theatre Actor and Educator Sophia Skiles

Photo of THE ORESTEIA by Scott Suchman

Sophia Skiles is an Asian-American theatre educator and theatre performer who takes pride in using genuine storytelling to promote racial justice and the overall change and bettering of society. Born and raised on the unceded land of the Gabrielino-Tongva Tribe (colonial Los Angeles, CA), Skiles is currently based in New York City. 

Skiles earned her BS in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and her MFA in Acting from Columbia University’s School of the Arts. She is currently an Associate Professor of the Practice and Head of Acting at Brown/Trinity Rep. She has taught and performed theatre for over twenty-five years, and has contributed to many institutions promoting liberal arts in a way that utilizes available resources to promote socially conscious rhetoric.   

Skiles is in constant collaboration with Ma-Yi Theater Company and The National Asian American Theater Company (NAATCO), and has worked with other storytellers such as May Adrales, Anne Bogart, Richard Foreman, David Herskovits, Ralph Peña, Andrei Serban, Chay Yew, and Mary Zimmerman.  

She was most recently seen at Shakespeare Theatre Company in 2019 in Ellen McLaughlin’s new adaptation of The Oresteia, which was Michael Kahn’s final production for the theatre. The production earned three Helen Hayes Award nomination, including Outstanding Ensemble in a Play. 

Skiles played the roles of Eleanor and Chorus in the notable NAATCO production of Henry VI  adapted and directed by Stephen Brown-Fried. The play normally has three parts but NAATCO’s production had two parts that were three hours each. The six-hour play is the first time a production of the classic Shakespeare play featured an all-Asian cast.  In an interview with blogger Fei Wu, Skiles spoke about the production: “I’ve always been a big believer in terms of Shakespeare being something that should be accessible to the masses. It’s magic.” The production is a whole new interpretation and allows for the actors and the audience to unpack the play on a deeper level and put into context a new understanding.  

Skiles has also taken part in other classic plays such as Julius Caesar, The Taming of the Shrew, The Seagull, and The House of Bernarda Alba. To find out more about Skiles, check out her website. 

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