Alissa Branch is a theatrical director, actor, teacher and visual artist born in Hastings, England and raised in Oklahoma. She discovered her love of storytelling at an early age. An avid reader and daydreamer, she began performing by convincing her little brother to act out stories with her in the family living room. In 5th grade, her mother signed her up for a local acting class where she was assigned a monologue from This Property is Condemned, by Tennessee Williams, prompting Alissa to devour all of his plays. In 6th grade, she read Romeo and Juliet in language arts class, and decided she'd better read all of his plays, too.
Alissa earned a BFA in Acting from the University of Oklahoma, an MA in Theatre from the Performing Arts Department at Washington University in St. Louis, and a certificate from Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London, where she studied acting with Royal Shakespeare Company actress Jane Lapotaire (who has become a lifelong mentor and friend) and then-Globe Artistic Director Mark Rylance.
Alissa has lived and worked in many varied places including Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Chicago, and London. Acting highlights include: Catherine in Proof (Phoenix Theatre); Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire (OKC Theatre Co); Emily in Bluff (Phoenix Theatre); Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream (Oklahoma Shakespeare), and Calphurnia in Julius Caesar (Indiana Rep). Directing highlights include: Pride and Prejudice (Oklahoma Shakespeare); The Taming of the Shrew (Oklahoma Shakespeare); The Circumference of a Squirrel (Phoenix Theatre); What Happened While Hero Was Dead (a new play and glorious feminist take-down of the Much Ado plot by Meghan Brown); Summer and Smoke, Arcadia and Julius Caesar (University of Oklahoma University Theatre). Her production of WB Yeats' poetic playThe Dreaming of the Bones was performed at Butler University with a subsequent two-week tour of 9 venues in Ireland.
Alissa has taught acting at Indiana Repertory Theatre, the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, Butler University, and has presented acting / audition workshops in theatres and educational settings across the United States and the UK, and in Pretoria, South Africa. Areas of theatrical special interest and experience include: Shakespeare / heightened text, inclusive / non-traditional casting, and health / wellness for the actor.
Alissa is currently an Associate Professor of Acting in the BFA acting program in the Helmerich School of Drama at The University of Oklahoma, where she developed the School's senior showcase system and the advanced Shakespeare curriculum. Her productions there have won numerous awards from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, including: 9 Parts of Desire (KCACTF Director's Choice Award); Shakespeare's Other Women (KCACTF Awards for Excellence with Heightened Text and Excellence in Ensemble Acting). Her production of Miss Evers' Boys also won the KCACTF Director's Choice Award for Region 6, a national award for Distinguished Achievement in Direction of a Play - and then performed at the South African National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa where it was honored with a National Arts Festival Silver Ovation Award for Outstanding Production of a Play.
Alissa teaches classes for The Actor Factory, and accepts private acting clients as time allows. Additionally, she works as a professional VoiceOver actor; her voice has been heard on hundreds of spots for tv, radio, and internet.
In 2022, Alissa created her dream course on Shakespeare in performance for the online learning company "The Great Courses Plus" (now Wondrium), titled Experiencing Shakespeare: From Page to Stage, which can be found streaming here.
A frequent traveller and road-trip enthusiast, Alissa's current home base is a 100 year-old cottage in the heart of downtown Norman, OK where she and her partner (singer-songwriter Tim Grimm) host an acoustic music house concert series called Red Dirt Folk Salon. Alissa & Tim also share a small visual art studio in Norman called Black Chalk Studio.