Eleni Papaleonardos

Eleni Papaleonardos

Assistant Professor
Position Type
- Present
acting, devising, physical theatre

Eleni Papaleonardos teaches courses in acting, physical theatre, and devising. She often directs immersive, site-specific, and interactive productions which break the constructs of traditional realist theatre. She apprenticed at Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, studied Theatre at the Ohio State University, and was a member of the first M.F.A. company in Contemporary Performance at Naropa University. At Naropa she studied devising techniques with prominent innovators including Barbara Dilley, members of Meredith Monk’s the House, SITI Company, and Tectonic Theatre Project. Eleni joined Columbus-based Available Light Theatre (AVLT) in 2008 and has served as Artistic Director since 2015. With AVLT, she performed, directed, devised, and led the artistic vision of the company including programming the company’s seasons of artistic work.

A dual citizen of the USA and Greece, Eleni teaches across languages and cultures, exploring physicality and imagery that may not be as accessible when working only in English. Her teaching is devoted to and rooted in the experimental nature of the rehearsal room as laboratory and the value of failure. Eleni focuses on embodiment as a grounding principle in performance and places this work in the context of students’ future lives as artists and citizens. She seeks to create a culturally responsive, trauma-informed, and consent-based classroom where she encourages students to work from where they are each day to unlearn the ideas of scarcity, competition, perfectionism, disconnection/disembodiment, and product-focused practices.

B.A., Ohio State University; M.F.A., Naropa University

Learning & Teaching

  • THTR - 100 Introduction to Theatre-making
  • THTR - 210 Elements of Acting
  • THTR - 310 Workshop in Acting: Postmodernist Approaches
  • Special Topics - Artists in the Schools, Devising, Viewpoints
  • Theatre Laboratory - Performance, Assistant Director, Stage Manager, Special Topics


Professor Papaleonardos's research is in performance and directing. She specializes in devising, physical theatre, and immersive experiences. She is happy to consider directed/independent study, and summer research students in any of those areas.

Favorite acting credits include "Matilde" in The Clean House at CATCO; "Samantha Blossom" in Dead City with AVLT; the title role in Schiller's Mary Stuart, a coproduction with Actors' theatre of Columbus and the Ohio State University; originating the solo role in Erik Ehn's Sealskin, at the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors' Theatre of Louisville; her original solo show about dyslexia Stop Sign [language]; and recently as “Soccer Mom” in Denison’s student-directed production of The Wolves.

Her directing at Denison includes Information for Foreigners, Big Love, and the devised play I Am Jonathan. Her directing credits for AVLT include [PORTO], Paradise Park Zoo, The Grown-Up, bobrauschenbergamerica, 33 Variations, and Pride and Prejudice among others. During the pandemic Eleni created outdoor immersive and interactive performances including Recover | Restore with her colleagues in Dance and Music on Sugar Loaf Hill.


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