Rob Knop's Gratuitous Performing Arts Page

It may be the same narcissistic instincts that led me to creating a multi-page website just about myself which lead me to getting up on stage and performing in front of people. I've played in orchestras and chamber groups, sung in choirs, performed in plays and musicals, and while all of it (especially the drama) can be really exhausting, I love it, and will probably do it for as long as I am able.

Musical Pursuits

[Fiddling Rob]

I started playing the violin at age five. I took lessons all the way through high school, most recently from Greg Mazmannian. Since then, I haven't taken lessons, but I've kept the practice up, playing in orchestras and chamber groups. Nowadays I blay both the violin and viola; I started the latter in my last year at Caltech.

I've also been known to sing in a choir or chorus or two, including some in musicals.

For several yeras, I am played viola with the Nashville Philharmonic, an all-volunteer community orchestra. Now that I'm in Squamish, I haven't found a regular group to play with; I'd love to put together a string quartet, but no luck yet. I have played with some students at various Quest events, and have played several times at church.

On the consumption front, my lifelong participation in classical music has instilled in me an appreciation for that form of music, to the point where most of the time the music I choose to listen to is classical. Although I like a lot of the stuff, many of my favorite things come from the 19th century, such as the music of Brahms. Although I'm not a big fan of modern "pop" music and the like, I do appreciate Jazz, and also rather like the truly random and gratuitous songs of the a capella group The Bobs.

Dramatic Pursuits


I've been a drama nerd probably since elementary school musicals- but really in junior high, when I was a kid with the Berkeley Shakespeare Festival for two summers. I then did plays throughout high school, college, and graduate school. Highlights included directing "Rosencrantz & Guidenstern Are Dead" in college (where I met Mike Dederian, who played Rosencrantz; 12 years later, I would be his best man, a year after that, he would be mine). In graduate school, among other things, I appeared as Brutus in "Julius Caesar," as well as did the stage directing for a Broadway Musical Revue.

After graduate school, I was associated with the Contra-Costa Civic Theatre. It started innocently enough, but next thing I knew it I was on the artistic committee, was serving as the producer for big musicals, and even directed a couple of short-run shows. (One show I directed was "The Real Imspector Hound" by Tom Stoppard; the other was "The Elsinore Follies" by Bill Warnock, which I found on the Dramatic Exchange.) All of this was during my post-doc; I had expected that my theatre days were over after graduate school, but that was not the case.

When I moved to Nashville in 2001 to take a job as an assistant professor in the Physics & Astronomy department at Vanderbilt, I figured that my theater days were over, at least for the next several years. However, several years later I spent a few years doing theater in the virutal world Second Life. I did several shows with the Second Life Shakespeare Company (including two scenes from Hamlet and an act of Twefth Night, and the direction of Mike Dederian's One's a Pawn of Time. I was also associated for a few years with the Avatar Repertory Thetaer, where I played Ferdinand in The Tempest, was involved in numerous readings, and was involved in several other productions.

For a long time, I continued to maintain The Dramatic Exchange, a script-exchange internet site that Mike Dederian and I started back in 1994. However, a few years ago Mike and I realized that we weren't keeping up with it, so several years ago we decided to close it down, at least for the time being.

In April 2012, I played the role of the Little Boy in Claire Hately's play "Of the Wonderful Kind". Claire was a fourth-year student at Quest Unviersity, and my advisee. Her question was "How can we keep creativity alive?" One of the great things about Quest's interdisciplinary nature is that I can advise a student with a question like this; I'm not just doing physics and astronomy. Yes, most of the third- and fourth-year students I advise do something in physics, astronomy, engineering, or comptuers (the places where, at least at the moment, I'm probably the most obvious choice).