Paula Murray Cole

Associate Professor, Theatre and Dance Performance
School: School of Music, Theatre, and Dance
Phone: 607-274-1232
Office: Dillingham Center 32, Ithaca, NY 14850
Specialty: Acting, Voice and Movement

Paula Murray Cole is an associate professor of acting, voice, and movement in the Department of Theatre and Dance. Her professional work is centered on the development and dissemination of Rasaboxes, a suite of exercises originally devised by Richard Schechner. Based on a combination of performance theories, practices, and contemporary emotion science, Rasaboxes trains emotional awareness and expressivity through the use of breath, body, voice, and sensation.

She has taught performance workshops at New York University, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Central Washington University, The Dell’ Arte International School of Physical Theatre, Brown University, Montclair State, Rose Bruford, The Actor’s Movement Studio and The Hangar Theatre Lab Company. She has presented Rasaboxes at conferences and workshops in Israel, Montreal, Turkey and Singapore, China, and Poland; for the International Society for Researchers on Emotion Conference (2004), the Association for Theatre Movement Educators Colloquium (2005), ATHE (2009) and the RS&PS Conference (2010). In conjunction with Cornell University, she co-organized a conference with various presenters, The Rasa Symposium: In Theory, Practice and Performance (2012).

In January 2012, she traveled to Shanghai, China to share Rasaboxes work with students attending Shanghai Theatre Academy's Winter Institute, co-sponsored by Brown, Princeton, Yale and New York Universities. In May 2011, she traveled to the Grotowski Center in Wrosclaw, Poland to share the Rasaboxes work at the "Making Tomorrow's Theatre" conference. Students and teachers from a variety of international theatre programs, including three IC theatre students, were invited to the center to exchange performer training practices.

She co-authored and edited the first book dedicated to The Performance Workshop and Rasaboxes published by Routledge, 2023: Inside the Performance Workshop: A Sourcebook for Rasaboxes and Other Exercises. She co-authored “The Actor As Athlete of the Emotions: The Rasaboxes Exercise” for the book Movement For Actors, (2nd Edition, 2017) edited by Nicole Potter, Barabara Adrian, and Mary Fleischer; she contributed a sidebar article to the essay “Rasaesthetics”, by Richard Schechner, now published in his book Performance Theory. Cole produced the first video recording documentary of Schechner teaching his intensive performance workshop. Over 100 hours of footage will become a digital archive so that scholars and practitioners may see Schechner's exercises as he presented them in 2009.

She has taught acting, coached and/or directed productions at Hofstra University, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Interlochen National Arts Camp, and the Governor’s Magnet School for the Arts of Norfolk, Virginia.  She acted at The Alley Theatre, The Houston and Dallas Shakespeare Festivals, Karin Coonrod's Arden Party in NYC, in Schechner's productions of Three Sisters and Hamlet with East Coast Artists (ECA). She performed at The Kitchen (NYC) and Lincoln Center's Outdoor Festival in a piece by choreographer Douglas Dunn and composer Joshua Fried. She worked as the casting director for Paul Ekman's photo sessions of actors demonstrating facial expressions of emotion for use in his training programs. 

Her research interests include ongoing research and development of Rasaboxes; comparative studies in emotional and psychophysical techniques in actor training practices; the study of contemporary emotion science about the brain, body, and senses relevant to the practice of acting and theatre making. She is an Alexander Technique teacher, certified with Alexander Technique International (ATI), having earned her diploma from The Philadelphia School for the Alexander Technique, attending from 2016-2022.

She holds her M.F.A. in Acting from Southern Methodist University and her B.F.A. in Drama from Ithaca College. Current professional memberships include: The International Society of Researchers on Emotion (ISRE), Association of Movement Theatre Educators (ATME), Alexander Technique International (ATI), and is a Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT) in New York State.