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Nan Zhang joined the faculty of the Theater Department at Smith College in 2001. Nan received her B.A. in English Literature from Beijing University (PKU), her M. A. in Theatre History, Literature, and Criticism, and her M. F. A. in Lighting Design and Technology from the Ohio State University.
As a lighting designer, Nan has designed for over forty productions in the U.S. and China, including stage plays, dance concerts, musicals, operas, and rock concerts. Her recent designs include: Bela Bartok's Duke Bluebeard's Castleat the Tianjin Grand Theatre's Opera House; Man of la Mancha at the Trojan Horse Theatre in Beijing; Jinghuanjue for the Beijing Nine Dance Theatre; Radnevsky's Real Magic and New Island Archepelag in collaboration with the OBIE-award-winning Talking Band in New York City; Fuwa: the Musical, commissioned by the 2008 Beijing Olympics Committee; Meirenjiao, a Huangmei Opera production at the National Center for the Performing Arts of China; Prism for the Beijing Dance Theatre; Everyman Jack, an original opera based on the life of Jack London produced by the Sonoma City Opera; The Last Adventure of Sherlock Holmes at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre; and concerts of the legendary Chinese rock singer Cui Jian in Beijing and Shenyang.
As a theatre scholar, Nan contributed numerous entries to the Greenwood Encyclopedia of Asian Theatre. She has also translated a significant body of dramatic scripts into Chinese. Her new translation of Henrik Ibsen's The Master Builder was published in New Drama (2006), and directed by China's premier director Lin Zhaohua. In September 2011, Nan directed her own translation of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht at the National Center for the Performing Arts.