Alumni News, Student News, Student Work

Find Your Passion: Stefanos Zogopoulos ’23

Stefanos Zogopoulos ’23 credits Bennington for helping him find his true passion. 

He was in his senior year of high school in Bosnia and Herzegovina when his theater professor, Damir Čobo ’17, recommended he look at Bennington “because of its interdisciplinary approach and how focused it is on taking everything from theory to practice.” 

“And so I came,” he said. “I was very passionate about theater, but I didn’t know exactly what about theater I was very passionate about. I just wanted to be in the theater-making process.” 

Stefanos Zogopoulos ’23 with Alisha Bade Shrestha '23
Stefanos Zogopoulos ’23 (left) with fellow student and collaborator Alisha Bade Shrestha '23


During that time, Zogopoulos completed a Field Work Term in social sculpture exhibits in Greece, “so I could understand how to make a space interactive socially.” 

Zogopoulos began his theater-making investigations by studying dance and acting. “First, I wanted to understand how I could create content with my body through acting and dancing,” he said. He described pouring himself into acting and dance but never feeling that it was enough. “I could give as much as I wanted, but there wasn’t enough narrative that I could see from outside,” Zogopoulos said. He felt similarly about directing, which he also tried. 

I love directing relations, characters, and the space between them, and how that creates a narrative. But I thought I was still missing something, something that was more personal.

“Directing,” he continued, “is all about the greater picture. It is about crafting a world of possibilities within a space. At the time, I felt that I needed to be more specific. I felt that there was a visual specificity that was lacking."

When he began feeling an emptiness of purpose, he took a detour towards public action, anthropology, and psychology. He wanted to “understand how to appeal to an audience and how to make an impact."

Upon returning to campus for his second year, he took his first costume design class. “That’s when I realized that costume design is what I wanted. It was a very creative form. I could do my research, create my own renderings and drawings and my own clothes, and then put them on stage to have my own voice and narrative as a creator.” 

Zogopoulos’s advanced work included 4000-level costume design classes. “He demonstrated remarkable growth and produced beautiful and creative work in classes like Out of the Ordinary: Costume Design for Fantasy and Design From Nature,” said Charles Schoonmaker, Costume Design faculty member.

All of his experiences at Bennington came together in his advanced work; he directed Peerless by Jiehae Park. He was interested in the play for how it presents the pursuit of the American Dream. Characters weigh the emotional sacrifices associated with migration. “As a director, designer, and mover myself, I was very interested in understanding how to choreograph emotions in relation to physical movement. I was excited to highlight emotions or events throughout the play using design elements and acting and movement to help the audience understand what was happening now and what was going to happen.”

He continued, “Costume design is an excellent tool to create stark moving images on stage that will support or enrich the story. My interest in research, fabrics, and engagement came together in my costume renderings and on stage.”

“Everything that I studied at Bennington came together in one way or another to create that production, including in the visual and auditory forms, physical form, and also the intellectual form,” he said.  

Zogopoulos said he sometimes thinks about what it would have been like to have gone to a school with a more rigid theater program. 

I think if I had gone to a more traditional school, I would have ended up doing something that I was partially passionate about but that wasn’t fulfilling enough or hands-on creative enough. I never would have gotten into costume design.

When asked what he will miss most about Bennington, Zogopoulos made a list. “Other than the nature itself, one thing I will miss most about Bennington is how close everyone is and how easy it is to collaborate,” he said.

He elaborated on the collaborative nature of Bennington, especially in the theater department, where classes are project-based. He notes the value of learning how to collaborate, including, he said, asking, “How much of yourself do you put into that? How much of the other person do you allow?”

“Here you have the opportunity to create, constantly and undisrupted with all who surround you,” Zogopoulos said. “It is precious, just having this in mind and being versatile and always trying to find that innovative solution.” 

He anticipates continuing to collaborate throughout his career, though in a big city environment, “living in a building of 500 people you rarely see,” for instance, he expects it to be more difficult. And feasibility is a bigger factor. In the wider world, one must consider the odds of success. “So, I like that freedom Bennington inspires in you. That is something I am going to miss.” 

He also appreciated the combination of freedom and support unique to Bennington. “Our faculty members hold us hand to hand. That is something I am going to miss: the relationship between me and my faculty members.” The more apt way to describe the student-faculty relationship, he clarified, is as mentor and mentee. 

At Bennington, faculty members are so willing to sit down with you and mentor you and help you. After years of teaching at Bennington, they still care so much about you and your work and helping you go out into the world as a full human being and a full creator.

He continued, “Bennington faculty and staff have made us feel so important and have made us feel that even if I say the randomest idea that comes to my head, how I want that to be a project, they will support you. Everything that you do is valid, and everything that you think is valid as long as you pursue it.” 

The faculty have inspired confidence Zogopoulos will take forward. 

“The biggest gift Bennington offered me was creating an artist's voice for myself, and also how I relate to the world and how I put myself out there and what kind of statements I want to make,” Zogopoulos said. “It is so much more important to have a value set and to have a goal for yourself as an artist.” 

“I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to shape myself and shape my interests here and then take all of that passion, all of those ideas, and all of this exposure and put it into hard work.”

Zogopoulos currently works in the Admissions Office at Bennington College. He aspires to work in theater and to earn an MBA. 

For more information about studying drama and costume design at Bennington, visit the drama page. To learn more about becoming a student at Bennington, visit