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Aysan Celik

Assistant Professor, Department of Theatre and Dance

What excites you most about coming to UC San Diego?

“So much. I'll start by saying that I know this is a school where art matters, and that theater is a progressive and exciting space of transformational justice. In my career as an actor, I have seen incredible performers come out of UC San Diego's MFA program. On my visit, everything I had suspected was confirmed when I met the vibrant undergraduate and graduate students, staff, and faculty here. Everything I see tells me that UC San Diego is a space of curiosity, courage, empowerment, kindness and joy. The fact that UC San Diego has such a capacious scope of fields and learningthat really excites me, too.”

Why did you choose your field of study?

“I think it chose me. I was always a strong student and was actually pre-med and a biology major when I started UCLA. I loved science too. But I had been performing as an actor and musician since I was a child, and I knew that theater was the space for me: it was my home. I remember sitting down in the sculpture garden at UCLA, during freshmen orientation, and feeling chest pains that I could not pursue what I felt called to. I decided at that moment to just try.”

What advice do you have for students studying in the arts and humanities?

“Studying in the arts and humanities will help you be a citizen of this world. It will help you find your voice and engage the way you want to. Having spent 10 years at a liberal arts college where every student took courses in the arts and humanities, I have witnessed how arts and humanities will offer you skills and knowledge that will empower you to do what you want, in any field.”

How do you view your role relative to the greater regional community?

“I'm so proud to be at a state school and to engage with so many students who are from the region and also from around the world. As a teacher I think of myself as holding space for a co-learning lab. My hope is that my students and I can work on forms that empower them to free their artistic voice and engage with their communities through theater and performance in such a way that honors their intentions and dreams. As a newcomer to the area, my hope is to connect with the community myself and find pathways to do that.”

What is something about yourself that is not typically included in your bio?

“In another life I might have worked for an environmental organization like The Sierra Club. I would love to be a part of protecting not only the preservation of national parks, but ensuring their accessibility to all.”

Professor Aysan Celik (she/hers) has worked as an actor and theater-maker for over 20 years. She has originated roles in world premieres of plays, created cutting-edge experimental performances with her collaborators, and inhabited a variety of parts Off Broadway in New York, at U.S. regional theaters, and on international tours. Professor Aysan's research interest, an exploration of the relationship between comedy and social justice, guides much of her recent and upcoming work as a creator and actor. 

Professor Celik is an alumna of UCLA and the ART Institute at Harvard and is a member of acclaimed New York theater companies Theater Mitu and The Civilians. Before joining the UC San Diego community, Aysan was a professor at New York University Abu Dhabi for 10 years, where she had the privilege of working with students from over 116 countries. Originally from California, she is the daughter of Middle Eastern immigrants.