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Northwestern School of Communication

Rives B. Collins

70 Arts Circle Drive
Room 5-171
Evanston, IL 60208
Current research involves gathering and preserving Oral Histories, Theatre for Young Audiences, New Play Development, the Art of Storytelling and its applications in business, law and medicine, Drama in Education and Literacy.



Area(s) of Expertise

Childhood Education, Creative Drama, Improvisation, Oral Histories, Storytelling, Theatre for Young Audiences
Rives B. Collins

Rives Collins was honored with a Charles Deering McCormick Professorship of Teaching Excellence at Northwestern University, where he has taught in the Department of Theatre for the past thirty five years. An acclaimed professional storyteller (ORACLE AWARD, National Storytelling Network), he works with full faith that planting stories in the world is a bit like the work Johnny Appleseed once did. He recently delivered the keynote address at the National Storytelling Conference, celebrating the role of storytelling in the 21st century, and was subsequently honored to reprise the presentation at The Cradle of Creativity conference in Cape Town, South Africa, as an American delegate to the international congress of ASSITEJ. At the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, he teaches business narrative in the Advanced Management Program, asserting that storytelling is a differentiating skill in the 21st century that strengthens leaders, brands, and organizations. He is the co-author with Pamela Cooper of The Power of Story: Teaching Through Storytelling, proclaiming that, “Storytelling is at the heart of everything I do.” In addition, Collins is head of the Theatre for Young Audiences program at Northwestern (JOHNNY SALDAÑA OUTSTANDING PROFESSOR OF THEATRE EDUCATION, American Alliance for Theatre and Education), and is an active professional stage director, specializing in the development of new work. He recently directed two world-premiere productions at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, both written by Northwestern colleague Laura Schellhardt. As an active member and past president of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, and as a current board member of the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America, he works with an international community of artists, educators, and scholars to champion the cause of drama and theatre in the lives of young people.


  • Phi Beta Kappa Graduate of Colorado College
  • MFA in Child Drama from Arizona State University


  • Collins, River and Pamela Cooper (1996). The Power of Story: Teaching Through Storytelling, Allyn & Bacon; 2nd edition.

Awards and Honors

  • 2021 - Inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre
  • 2017 – Johnny Saldaña Outstanding Professor of Theatre Education Award, American Alliance for Theatre and Education.
  • 2017 – Oracle Award for Distinguished National Service, National Storytelling Network.
  • 2017 – Clarence Simon Award for Outstanding Teaching and Mentoring, School of Communication, Northwestern University.
  • 2016 – Selected director for New Visions/New Voices new play development program, Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C.
  • 2014 – Galbut Outstanding Faculty Award, School of Communication, Northwestern University.
  • 2007 – Creative Drama Award: The American Alliance for Theatre and Education.
  • 1998-01 – Charles Deering McCormick Professorship of Teaching Excellence, Northwestern University.
  • 1992 – Excellence in Teaching Award, Northwestern University Alumni Association.
  • 1992 – Winifred Ward Award from Zeta Phi Eta presented by the American Alliance for Theatre and Education for the Outstanding New Children’s Theatre Company in America.
  • 1990 – Outstanding Contribution Award, Illinois Theatre Association Award for outstanding contribution to the field of Children’s Theatre.
  • 1984 – The Winifred Ward Scholar, Children’s Theatre Association of America.
  • 1983 – The Rita Criste Fellow, Arizona State University.
  • 1978 – Phi Beta Kappa, The Colorado College.


  • Theatre for Young Audiences
  • Creative Drama
  • Advanced Creative Drama
  • The Art of Storytelling
  • Advanced Storytelling