Jonathan R. Michaelsen served as chair of the Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance at Indiana University from 2004 to 2018. During his tenure as chair, Michaelsen oversaw a period of major growth in the department, including the addition of ten faculty and staff positions; the inclusion of the Contemporary Dance Program into the Department; and a $15 million dollar renovation to the IU theatre complex, which included the addition of a new studio theatre and movement rehearsal space. He was instrumental in re-establishing the MFA program in playwriting at Indiana University and spearheaded the creation of the Musical Theatre BFA and the Costume Technology MFA degrees. He also created the Indiana University Summer Theatre and Premiere Musicals: Developing New Works of Musical Theatre at Indiana University.
As part of the mainstage season at Indiana University, Michaelsen has directed Hamlet, Mr. Burns: A Post Electric Play, Vanya, Sonia, Marsha, and Spike, A Clean House, The Scarlet Letter, Arcadia, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and the world premieres of Reel and Nice Nails.
For the Indiana University Summer Theatre, Michaelsen directed Love’s Labours Lost, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Comedy of Errors, Taming of the Shrew and The Foreigner and at the Brown County Playhouse, Present Laughter, The Glass Menagerie, The Importance of Being Earnest, Arms and the Man and 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. He also directed the opera L'Orfeo for the Bloomington Early Music Festival and the Jacobs School of Music.
Michaelsen has studied improvisation at the Second City, Annoyance Theatre, and Improv Olympics in Chicago. He is currently working on a devised theatre piece centering on the theme of addiction.
Before coming to Indiana University, Michaelsen was Associate Dean for Humanities and Fine Arts at the University of Alabama. He also served as head of the graduate and undergraduate Acting programs in the Department of Theatre and Dance for ten years. He created a professional theatre company for the University of Alabama, SummerTide, and directed its inaugural production.
Active in the Southeastern Theatre Conference since 1991, he served for a number of years on the executive committee and as president in 2003-2004. In 2018, Michaelsen was honored by the Southeastern Theatre Conference by being one of three individuals selected for SETC’s Hall of Fame.
Michaelsen has been awarded a number of grants and awards, including funding to develop theatre curriculum for secondary school educators. Internationally, Michaelsen served as vocal coach for a production of The Tempest in South Africa and taught acting and voice in Beijing, China in 2018.
Professor Michaelsen currently serves on the Commission on Accreditation for the National Association of Schools of Theatre and frequently chairs accreditation visiting teams to colleges and universities around the country. He is also Vice-President of Finance for the Southeastern Theatre Conference.