I am Jody Hovland, a professional actor, director and theatre founder based in Iowa City, Iowa. And after years and years and years (34) of happily growing Riverside Theatre here and serving as its longtime Artistic Director, I have stepped back from institutional leadership three years ago and into freelance theatre.
Untethered. Liberating and exhilarating. Reinvention time.
More than 200 productions later, here are some personal favorites at Riverside. The Glass Menagerie (Amanda), All My Sons (Kate), Death of a Salesman (Linda), the title role in Kimberly Akimbo, the world premiere of The Exit Interview (Eunice). The solo shows The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, The Median Strip, Shirley Valentine. For Riverside Theatre in the Park, Romeo and Juliet (Nurse), The Tempest (Prospera), Othello (Emilia) and the gender-bending Dogberry, Prince of Aragon, Adam, Fabian, Peter Quince, Starveling. Best-loved directing projects include Cyrano, the NNPN Rolling World Premiere of Lucky Me, Stones in His Pockets, The Lonesome West. I have an MFA in acting from the University of Iowa, served as a longtime Artist-in-Residence at Cornell College, and am honored to be a member of Actors’ Equity.
Now to the reinvention. Projects have included a guest artist residency at Graceland University, performing Vivian Bearing in Wit and conducting workshops; directing 39 Steps and Tuesdays with Morrie at San Luis Obispo Repertory Theatre; teaching, at the University of Arkansas, the how-tos of starting a theatre. This fall I’ll perform the title role in Marjorie Prime with Iowa City’s Crooked Path Theatre, and then happily return to SLO Rep in the spring to play Sister Aloysius in Doubt.
I swapped the privilege of a longtime artistic home for the invigoration of change. Thrown myself off balance in the best way. New artistic families, new opportunities to make theatre and expand my work. I bring to it a career full of tenacity, passion, joy – and tremendous gratitude.
Years ago I was sitting in on rehearsals under Jon Jory’s direction at Actors Theatre of Louisville. He asked me, “Isn’t it wonderful to get up every morning and go to work in the American theatre?”
Co-founder and former Artistic Director of Riverside Theatre, Iowa City’s resident professional company, serving for 34 years.
MFA, Acting, University of Iowa
MA, English, University of North Dakota
Member of Actors’ Equity Association
Distinguished Artist-in-Residence at Cornell College (retired)
Actor/director/producer in more than 200 productions for Riverside Theatre
Since stepping back from leadership in 2015, have continued to work as a guest artist at Riverside Theatre, most recently as an actor in THE NICETIES