In his introduction to Theatre/Theory/Theatre, theatre and comparative literature scholar Daniel Gerould touches briefly on the monsters in theatre often ignored by critics. He writes, “The supernatural and abnormal explain much of the popular appeal of drama, but these are horrors that most theorists prefer to ignore …. Only Artaud will openly avow that he is in search of monsters.” In my own work as both a scholar and a playwright, I, like Artaud, openly avow that I too am in search of monsters. I am fascinated by the monstrous both represented in theatre and enacted through performance. That I seek out the darkness which sometimes underpins the work of an otherwise enlightening art, my work on violence performed, enacted, or embodied reflects a lifelong desire to understand the inexplicably awful and our experiences of it.



 

My dissertation project is a culmination of this intersection and my research area, pursuing a historiography of how theatre and performance since the 19th century has shaped the socio-political category of “white woman” in the United States and United Kingdom. The project hybridizes sociologist Avery Gordon and theatre historian Marvin Carlson’s distinct theories of “haunting.” Haunting serves as a conceptual metaphor for the lingering influence of a ghostly character trope I call the “woman in white” and her foundational contribution to the Anglophone conception of white women as both imperiled and perilous. As is characteristic of my work, the project uses a dense theoretical frame to engage a wide variety of objects that range from 19th century melodrama to 1970s horror films to pro-eating disorder communities on the social media platform Tumblr.  

This intensive research has inspired several potential projects for the future, including a second book project on racialized gender politics and re-staging true crime in the television age and a theoretical exploration of radical feminist negativity on stage.

Central to my work as a scholar is a sense of practical purpose for the knowledge I inscribe and ideas I develop. I am both a scholar-practitioner and an activist scholar explicitly invested in certain practices, political goals, and aesthetics. As a playwright and director, staged violence and feminist praxis is present in all of my work. I see my artistic work as an important opportunity to test that scholarship in a lab setting. I aim to create tangible scholarship, transferrable not only to readers of my academic work and students whom I teach, but also to audiences encountering my artistic output. My specific goals are for my work to contribute to best practices for staged violence and new approaches for discussing racialized gender identity in cultural criticism. As a feminist theatre practitioner and scholar, I advocate in my for gender parity in practice as well as more complex discourse on violence, gender, race, and sexuality. 

My research on violence intersects with my political investment in feminist praxis and scholarly charge to integrate social media as an object of performance studies. This intersection and its wide scope is perhaps best illustrated by my two most significant research projects to date. The first was my master’s thesis project, an interrogation of Vancouver “gorelesque” performer Bloody Betty and the extensive archive of her problematic, violent burlesque on YouTube. The second was a Note from the Field in Theatre Topics authored with Jenna Gerdsen that addresses the unique vulnerability of theatre, dance, and performance graduate students to sexual harassment, theorizing the use of an oral or digital whisper network to combat that vulnerability, and the importance of non-Equity forms of accountability, such as the Not in Our House movement.

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