New dean of SDA plans for school’s future

David Bridel is taking the main stage at the USC School of Dramatic Arts.

Bridel, performer, interim dean, director of the master in fine arts acting program and associate professor of theater practice, succeeded Madeline Puzo as dean of SDA on Friday.

Bridel has been an active faculty member at USC for the past 10 years, and he sees his new role as a way to expand the school.

“There is so much to develop, sustain and improve in the school that this kind of service position is very satisfying for me,” Bridel said.

In order to advance the development of the school, Bridel hopes to use the existing faculty to provide greater opportunities for students to enter the workforce by inviting liaisons in the industry to speak to students, for example.

“The school has excellent faculty and a very energized student body,” Bridel said. “I do feel that in the grand scheme of things we are looking to develop our contemporary programming, create more ways for our students to enter the industry with more know-how.”

Bridel said his experience as interim dean will allow him to maintain the existing reputation of the school and also improve upon it.

“I’ve had one year as the interim dean already, and I’ve worked very hard to create more opportunities for our students in the employment sector,” Bridel said. “Our students have auditioned for many more professional productions in the last year than they’ve had previously.”

His personality and experience working with students got him the job, Bridel explained, and that personality will benefit the school in the long run.

“I do have a lot of energy, and I have a genuine sense of what lies ahead,” Bridel said. “My own personality is very optimistic and forward-looking and very much a builder of trust and excitement and genuine enthusiasm.”

Bridel has extensive experience as a director, choreographer, teacher, playwright and librettist.

His published plays I Gelosi and Sublimity, winner of the 2013 Best Satire Award in the United Solo Festival, have received international acclaim.

As dean, Bridel hopes that he can use his experience working in other countries to improve on the international presence of the school both in the undergraduate and graduate levels, noting that the SDA has a large percentage of international students in its graduate program.

“We actually have an unusually high percentage of international students, and that’s been noted by peer institutions from other parts of the country,” Bridel said. “In my own life experiences as a professional theater artist, I have done an enormous amount of work in a vast range of different countries, and it’s very much in my field of interest to expand our reputation abroad.”

His work has appeared around the world and on big-name shows like Dancing with the Stars. Bridel is also an contributor for the American Theatre magazine and The Soul of the American Actor. He is the founding and artistic director of The Clown School in Los Angeles and associate director of the theater company Four Clowns.

Bridel is excited for what the future may hold and hopes that the school will be part of the University’s push for implementation of alternative media outlets like virtual reality.

“This is a time of unprecedented opportunity in my field,” Bridel said. “There are so many other changes happening and it’s happening really fast, and while that can be a little bit dizzying, it also provides a lot of opportunity and a lot of potential.”