James Van Leishout has been a professional director for more almost three decades; fourteen as the Artistic Director of the Washington Shakespeare Festival. He is currently the Co-Artistic Director of True North Theatre. He has directed shows throughout the nation, including numerous classical productions, musicals, operas, contemporary plays and original scripts. His most memorable productions include The Fantasticks, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Belle of Amherst and Tomfoolery. He will direct Pinter’s The Caretaker this next spring for Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
An accomplished teacher, James was most recently an adjunct professor at South Puget Sound Community College. He was also a guest lecturer for Eastern Washington University at Peirce College in Medieval and Renaissance theatre (Everyman to Shakespeare). He has also taught acting basics and classical acting at the Vancouver Film School in Canada; workshops at the Northwest Drama Conference; and workshops on directing Shakespeare, and creativity at the International Thespian Conference and various state Thespian Festivals. He has taught staged combat across the nation and has done fight choreography on more than two dozen shows (seven different productions of Romeo and Juliet)
As an award-winning actor, his most significant roles include Elwood Dowd in Harvey, Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream, the Stage Manager in Our Town, Fastaff in Merry Wives of Windsor, Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night and Jaques in As You Like It.
He is a published author on theater, a theater critic, and was a semi-finalist in the South Sound Playwrights Festival. He has written and performed for the Washington State History Museum. He owns Voices Unlimited, a consulting and educational firm for non-profit arts organizations; specializing in marketing the arts, training in effective communications, and teaching workshops (theatre specific).