2024 Unstoppable Voters Faculty Fellow D.T. Burns

D.T. Burns (they/he) is a writer, educator, and theatre-maker based in Pittsburgh, PA. They create performances that playfully explore complex subjects, colliding topics from science and civics with elements of puppetry, spectacle, or role-playing games. D.T.’s work has been featured at venues like the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the Prague Quadrennial of Space and Design, and the Boulder International Fringe Festival. Their work has previously been supported by grants and residencies from the Sloan Foundation for science-driven screenwriting, the Object Movement Festival for eco-puppetry, and the Soaring Gardens Artists’ Retreat for work with playwright Brandy N. Carie adapting the entire Jane Austen literary canon into short puppet plays. D.T.’s writing has also been published through Smith & Kraus, the PlayGround Experiment, and the Nonbinary Monologues Project.

D.T. originally trained as an acrobat in the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan, before returning to their hometown of Houston, TX to receive a B.A. in Theater and History from Rice University. Their training has since included aerial dance in Boulder, penguin handling at the National Aviary, and an MFA in Dramatic Writing at Carnegie Mellon University. D.T. is currently an Adjunct Professor of Playwriting at Point Park University’s Conservatory of Performing Arts.

D.T. Burns
D.T. puppeteering with Squonk Opera. Photo by David S. Rubin.

About Point Park University

Point Park University is located in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh, PA. D.T. teaches theater students within the Conservatory of Performing Arts, a range of actors, directors, and playwrights learning to craft narratives in script form. They are seeking to teach students to generate a collection of short play highlighting local political figures, ballot initiatives, and key voter literacy issues, to be read and staged in the local community.

Faculty Fellowship Focus

Playwriting 2 covers advanced topics in telling stories through scripts, including historical, verbatim, and autobiographical plays. Its civic engagement sessions would include overviews of past plays that have successfully incorporated civic elements, from the Living Newspaper projects of the 1930s to the Neofuturists’ “45 Plays for 45 Presidents.” Student playwrights would then work to craft their own short plays featuring narratives of local politicians and voter issues. A collection of these plays could then be performed in conjunction with local voter registration efforts.

“I’m excited to help inspire a generation of artists to create new ways to inform voters in their communities!”

– D.T. Burns, Professor of Theatre, Point Park University