Ben Viccellio is a Chicago-based playwright and actor. Acting credits include: the role of Oedipus in Frank Galati's "Oedipus Complex" at The Goodman Theatre; "Cherry Orchard" (dir. Tina Landau), "Theatrical Essays" (dir. Tina Landau) and the world premiere of "Men of Tortuga" (dir. Amy Morton) at Steppenwolf; the role of Petruchio in "Short Shakespeare: Taming of the Shrew" (dir. David H. Bell), the role of Macbeth in "Short Shakespeare: Macbeth" (dir. David H. Bell) and the role of Guildenstern in "Hamlet" (directed by Terry Hands) at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.

Additionally, Ben has worked with About Face, Rivendell Theatre, Griffin Theater and Viaduct Theater, among others. He has also acted for film and television, as well as in the odd commercial... some of them very odd. He has written a number of plays and has seen his work produced in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Aspen. His play, "House of Judgment," was nominated for an LA Valley Theatre Award for Best Author of an Original Drama. He has also authored screenplays, including "Men In Trouble," based on the novel of the same name.

While earning his M.F.A. at Northwestern, he taught Intro to screenwriting and was the recipient of a generous grant from actor/filmmaker Zach Braff, which was used to fund Ben's first original short film, "The Meaning of Hemingway." He is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, Actors Equity and the Screen Actors Guild.

Areas of Expertise

Acting, Classical Drama, Shakespeare, Screenwriting, "Genre" Film


2009 — Master of Fine Arts from Northwestern University

1998 — Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College

Courses Recently Taught

The work of this course involves the realization in the theater of the efforts of an important playwright, as expressed in the text for a particular play. Problems in textual analysis, historical research and the creation of a production lead, by way of independent and cooperative activity involving acting, design and special problems, to public performance before an audience. Note: Students who, in the judgment of the instructional and directorial staff, have made significant creative contributions to the effectiveness of the production will have an audit indicated on their academic record.

This course examines how theater differs from other arts and how various theatrical artists bring a play to life. Through a series of creative assignments, we explore what a play is and how it's structured. Assignments consist of a series of playwriting projects and one acting project, which students perform while collaborating with their classmates. Students read at least five plays and a series of essays about the theory and practice of he theater. Each student writes, directs and presents a final short play and takes a final exam. Any student with an interest in the theater will find this a challenging course, regardless of previous experience. Because this course is an introduction to the vocabulary of the theater, it is a prerequisite to most other courses in the department. This counts toward the drama and film majors. No prerequisite. Offered every year.

This course surveys the history of Western dramatic literature from Ancient Greece through the end of the English Restoration, roughly 1700. The emphasis is on critical reading for a theatrical understanding of these seminal texts. This course consists of lecture, discussion sessions and critical-writing assignments. This course is required for the major. Prerequisite: DRAM 111.

Through the rehearsal and performance of various scenes, students explore the nature of the actor's contribution to the theater. Work includes performance exercises, readings and written assignments. This counts toward the elements of theatre art requirement for the major. Prerequisite: DRAM 111. Offered every year.

This course presents a study of the actor's methods of analysis of a text and development of a completed characterization. Students rehearse and present a series of scenes in various stages of development, leading to a complete understanding of a major role from dramatic literature. This counts toward the elements of theater art requirement for the major. Prerequisite: DRAM 220. Generally offered every other year.

Individual study in drama is reserved for students exploring a topic not regularly offered in the department's curriculum. Typically, the course carries 0.5 unit of credit. To enroll in an individual study, a student must identify a member of the department willing to direct the project and, in consultation with him or her, write a proposal. The department chair must approve the proposal. The one- to two-page proposal should include a preliminary bibliography and/or set of specific problems, goals and tasks for the course; outline a schedule of reading and/or writing assignments or creative undertakings, and describe the methods of assessment (e.g., a journal to be submitted for evaluation weekly; a one-act play due at semester's end, with drafts due at given intervals; and so on). The student also should briefly describe prior coursework that qualifies him or her for this independent project. At a minimum, the department expects the student to meet regularly with the instructor one hour per week and to submit an amount of work equivalent to that required in 300-level dance and drama courses. Students are urged to begin discussion of their proposed individual study the semester before they hope to enroll, so that they can devise a proposal and seek departmental approval before the deadline.

Beginning with F. W. Murnau's "Nosferatu" (1922), we trace the evolution of the horror film over the last century, giving focus to several seminal films, including (but not limited to) Tod Browning's "Freaks," James Whale's "Bride of Frankenstein," George Romero's "Night of The Living Dead," William Friedkin's "The Exorcist," Dario Argento's "Suspiria" and John Carpenter's "Halloween." There also is a creative writing component. Students are required to pitch, synopsize and further develop an idea for an original horror film. This counts toward the film genre course requirement for the major. No prerequisite. Permission of instructor required. Generally offered every third year.

Special Topic