Past Events

Steven Liu, from the University of British Columbia, will engage us in conversation about theatre in China in the 1950s. Come and enjoy coffee and cookies as you listen to Professor Liu present new research.

Juliet Shields, English

Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 3:30 in CMU 202: "Non-faculty Positions in Higher Ed" will feature PhD alumni working the UW in a range of administrative, advising, and public-facing roles.

The aim of both panels is to give current grad students a sense of the diverse careers that our PhD alumni have pursued and to help them begin thinking about and possibly preparing for fulfilling professional lives beyond the professoriate.

Juliet Shields, English

Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 3:30 in CMU 202: "Careers beyond the University" will feature PhD alumni working in nonprofit, tech, secondary education, and the public humanities. 
The aim of both panels is to give current grad students a sense of the diverse careers that our PhD alumni have pursued and to help them begin thinking about and possibly preparing for fulfilling professional lives beyond the professoriate.

Simpson Center

Translation Studies GRC Hosts Elizabeth DeNoma, Senior Acquisitions Editor AmazonCrossing

On Friday, December 7, 2-3 pm, Communication 120 (Lecture Hall). Elizabeth DeNoma from AmazonCrossing, the largest U.S. publisher of fiction in translation to English, will join the Multidisciplinary Translation Studies Graduate Research Cluster in a conversation about graduate study, literary translation and jobs outside of academia for humanists with advanced degrees. DeNoma holds a PhD in Scandinavian Languages and Literature from the University of Washington.

 The session will be followed from 3-4 pm by a conversation among any interested UW faculty and students about the new Yale Translation Initiative, and the possibility of developing something similar at theUW.

 The UW Multidisciplinary Translation Studies Graduate Research Cluster 2018/2019 promotes translation as a valued form of scholarship in its own right as advocated by the Modern Language Association’s 2007 report on evaluating translation for tenure and promotion, and the MLA’s 2011 guidelines for peer review of translation as scholarship. Our goal is to spark a conversation that will lead to greater opportunities for translation scholarship at the UW, including the possible creation of a translation hub and of translation certificates or degrees.

Share information about your own translation work and research on our Facebook page. If you’d like to join our email listserv please email Katie King (

Ann-Charlotte (Lotta) Gavel Adams, PhD Professor of Scandinavian Studies

The Picasso of Playwriting: Strindberg in Performance

WHEN Monday, Nov 21, 2016, 2:30 – 4:20 p.m.
EVENT TYPES Lectures/Seminars, Special Events

The Performance Studies Research Group at UW proudly presents:

Sean Metzger, University of California, Los Angeles     

“Performing Human Traffic”


Friday, October 28, 4pm
Simpson Center for the Humanities, Communications 202/204


How might ideas about performance complicate discourses of human traffic? Metzger looks at the 2004 incident at England’s Morecambe Bay, where twenty-three Chinese migrant workers lost their lives. His analysis focuses on cultural productions that respond to the incident from Nick Broomfield’s film, Ghosts, to Isaac Julien’s screen installation, Ten Thousand Waves, to Wang Ping’s poetry cycle of the same name. These artistic works attempt to account for the subjective dimensions of human traffic in an age of globalization. Metzger focalizes questions of memory and human traffic, specifically cases involving Fujianese immigrants that end in death. Rather than emphasizing the arrival of the migrants, he considers what the departed reveal in terms of networks of aesthetics, people, and capital in the wake of catastrophe. What possibilities emerge for the articulation of subjectivity? What kinds of post-mortem connections are facilitated in attempts to remember lives that previously did not matter in the media? How does the legal discourse of human traffic render visible or invisible the people it would ostensibly protect? How does one represent people who remain unseen until their corpses float into public view? 


Reception and refreshments to follow in the Simpson Center.

Sean Metzger is an Associate Professor of theater and performance studies at UCLA and the president of Performance Studies international. Metzger works at the intersections of Asian American, Caribbean, Chinese, film, performance and sexuality studies. His first book, Chinese Looks: Fashion, Performance, Race, was published by Indiana University Press in 2014. Metzger has also co-edited four collections of essays: Embodying Asian/American Sexualities with Gina Masequesmay (Lexington, 2009); Futures of Chinese Cinema: Technologies and Temporalities in Chinese Screen Cultures with Olivia Khoo (Intellect, 2009); Race, Space, Place: The Making and Unmaking of Freedoms in the Atlantic World with Michaeline Crichlow (a special issue of Cultural Dynamics, Nov. 2009); Islands, Images, Imaginaries with Francisco J. Hernández Adrián and Michaeline Crichlow (a special issue of Third Text, 2014). With John Clum, he co-edited an anthology of dramatic texts entitled Awkward Stages: Plays about Growing up Gay (Cambria, 2015).

Metzger is currently a Framing the Global fellow with Indiana University and Indiana University Press for which he is working on a second book, The Chinese Atlantic: Seascapes and the Theatricality of Globalization. 

The Performance Studies Research Group, sponsored by a grant from the Simpson Center for the Humanities, draws together scholars from various disciplines at UW to discuss foundational and new work in Performance Studies and to examine the broad interplay of performance, politics, and culture across the globe. This year’s offerings include two talks by invited national and international speakers and an intensive faculty writing retreat.

Simon Fraser University and the frank theatre company

With queer-themed plays and performances now a fixture on stages across the country, what do we mean when we talk about “queer theatre and performance in Canada?” How might we sum up the state of the field: where we have been; where we are now; and where we are going? This conference and workshop event, to be held at Simon Fraser University’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts in downtown Vancouver from July 21-24, 2016, and timed to coincide with the frank theatre company’s Clean Sheets Reading Series, will attempt to answer these and related questions by bringing together leading artists, academics, activists, producers, curators,
and critics for a series of provocative roundtable discussions and staged readings of new work.

The starting point for our conversations will be an interrogation of the very terms that make up our conference title. In our post-(post?)identity politics 21st century, what aesthetic and political traction is
to be gained—if any—in retaining the label “queer” to describe contemporary theatre and performance practice made under the LGBTTQ banner? In a country as regionally, linguistically, and culturally diverse as
Canada, can one even adequately account for all of the material produced under such a label? And in a performance landscape increasingly crowded with ever more queer idioms (burlesque, cabaret, stand-up), does the gay- or lesbian-themed play seem impossibly quaint? In short, where is here now? And is here still queer?

Conference and workshop presenters are invited to explore these questions in relation to some of the following possible topics:

·      History: What is Canada’s queer dramatic heritage? Does it make sense, in 2016, to speak of a queer theatrical canon in this country? If so, who would be included? What other voices still need to be
recovered? What archival projects have been—or need to be—undertaken to document and preserve past work by queer companies and artists in this country? What are some of the more important stories we would find in such archives?

·      Geography: Does Canada’s de facto literary and cultural regionalism apply to queer theatre and performance as well? To what extent does place—including the urban/rural divide—continue to define the content of and audiences for queer live art in this country? What are the impediments to touring work produced by queer artists/companies? How much cultural transfer/collaboration takes place between queer theatre-makers in English Canada and their counter-parts in Quebec? And/or are all of these questions rendered obsolete via the globalized/financialized/festivalized international performance circuit for art—queer or otherwise?

·      Economics: Money, money, money: who has it, who wants it, and how does one get it? As public funding for art and culture in Canada shrinks generally, how has this specifically impacted queer theatre and
performance? What kind of corporate, public/private, and/or crowd-sourced funding models are producers turning to in order to fill the gap? Relatedly, can we make any correlations between diminished budgets and
the kind and quality of material we are now seeing on stages? Why is it important to do the basic statistical analysis and forensic number-crunching to answer these questions?

·      Politics: In an era of same-sex marriage, anti-retrovirals, and sex-positive anti-bullying campaigns, what does Canadian queer performance still need to get angry about? Is there a danger in becoming too
complacent? How might the history of grassroots queer activism be allied to other pressing causes, including environmentalism, First Nations rights, (trans*)gender equity, homelessness, the decriminalization of
prostitution, etc.?

·      Equity: Like most in North America and Western Europe, Canadian theatres continue to remain predominantly white and male and able-bodied—both in terms of the folks on stage, and those behind the scenes.  How has queer theatre and performance in Canada, historically, responded to the challenge of gender and cultural diversity? What still needs to be done? And what specific productions/festivals/collaborations/events might speak generatively to these questions?

·      Aesthetics: What characterizes the kinds of queer performance being made in Canada today? How do we assess a work of dramatic naturalism alongside the spectacle of “boylesque,” or Nina Arsenault’s Silicone
Diaries, or the retro-media storytelling of Daniel Barrow? Is contemporary Canadian queer performance nationally distinctive? If so, how?

·      Technology: How have new media technologies changed queer theatre and performance in Canada, both in terms of the production and dissemination of new work? Who are the performers and companies who are
embracing this technology and using it most cannily? And, how, specifically are they making the technology queer?

·      Criticism: How has queer Canadian theatre and performance historically been received and what new work/performers are being anointed today? As arts reporting in print journalism continues to decrease, how
have the blogosphere and social media changed the critical landscape for queer theatre and performance? How has the academic discourse also evolved? What studies are being produced and what material is being
taught in university classrooms?

·      Industry: Who are the major players (actors/performers, writers, producers) in Canadian queer theatre and performance today? Where are they being trained, where are they showcasing their work, and who is
paying attention? As importantly, who were the mentors and pathbreakers for this current generation?

In order to encourage as much dialogue as possible, the format for the conference will be a series of curated roundtables, each made up of a mix of academics, artists, cultural presenters and critics, etc.
Participants will be asked to submit their completed 8-10 page papers/presentations/manifestos/statements by the end of May 2016, at which point they will be posted to the conference website for everyone to read.
Then, at the conference itself, in lieu of reading their papers, participants will give a brief 5-minute summative statement and response to their fellow panelists’ work, after which things will be opened up to a
general conversation. Finally, each evening will be dedicated to a staged reading/presentation of new work by some of the leading queer artists in the country.

Following the conclusion of the conference, selected participants will be invited to revise and expand their papers for possible inclusion in a dedicated volume to be published by Playwrights Canada Press in 2018
as part of their New Essays in Canadian Theatre series. A companion volume of plays will also be published.

Interested participants should send a short 250-word abstract of their intended presentation to, along with a brief bio, by 15 May 2015. We will inform you of your proposal’s acceptance by 15 August 2015, at which point conference organizers will begin the process of applying for additional conference funding. Please note that our ability to fund in full participants’ travel and accommodation costs to Vancouver is contingent on receiving the bulk of this funding. We will inform participants about travel booking procedures by early February 2016 at the latest.

For more information, send enquires to

The Queer Theatre and Performance in Canada Organizing Committee:

Jan Derbyshire, Vancouver and Toronto

Peter Dickinson, Simon Fraser University

Chris Gatchalian, the frank theatre company

Kathleen Oliver, Langara College

Dalbir Singh, University of Toronto

Dr. Peter Dickinson
Department of English
Simon Fraser University
8888 University Drive
Burnaby, BC
Canada V5A 1S6


Performance Studies Research Group, a crossdisciplinary research cluster of the Simpson Center for the Humanities

Please join us for a talk on May 20 by Dr. Henry Bial, professor of Theatre at the University of Kansas, and author of Playing God: The Bible on the Broadway Stage.

Dr. Bial’s lecture is titled “Jesus Christ, Broadway Star,” and will be given at 4 pm, Friday, May 20 in Communications 120.

Reception to follow in the Simpson Center, Communications 202.

Description: In the United States, the Bible is understood to be the source of nearly all mainstream religion. Broadway, meanwhile, represents both the highest and lowest aspirations of the American stage, the pinnacle of theatrical excellence and excess. What happens when a culture’s most sacred text enters its most commercial performance venue? Performance studies scholar Henry Bial compares the Broadway musicals Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell with an emphasis on the strategies each show takes toward the representation of Jesus of Nazareth.

Henry Bial is Professor of Theatre at the University of Kansas, where he serves as Director of the School of the Arts and Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. He is the author of Playing God: The Bible on the Broadway Stage (2015) and Acting Jewish: Negotiating Ethnicity on the American Stage and Screen (2005), and the co-editor of Theater Historiography: Critical Interventions (2010, with Scott Magelssen), The Performance Studies Reader, Third Edition (2015, with Sara Brady), and Brecht Sourcebook (2000, with Carol Martin). Bial is Past President of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education.

Organized by the Performance Studies Research Group, a crossdisciplinary research cluster of the Simpson Center for the Humanities.

Questions: contact Scott Magelssen

Theater for Change UW

Theater for Change UW presents: “#HereWeGoAgain”

Monday, May 9, 2016

2:30 p.m. – 4:20 p.m. Interactive performance
4:20 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Reception
wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House, UW Seattle

More information

Admission is FREE, but space is limited. RSVP today!

Theater for Change actors performing

“#Here We Go Again”

When something unjust happens we often fight, freeze, or flee. Is there another choice?

Dive into the deep waters with us and explore:

  • Racial microaggressions
  • White privilege
  • Equitable exchange

Theater for Change UW

(formerly Interactive Theater as Pedagogy Project)

TfC UW uses Theater of the Oppressed and other interactive, participatory theater approaches to advance community dialogue, address issues related to classroom and institutional climate, and take action for change.

TfC UW is a collaboration between the UW Center for Teaching and Learning and Memory War Theater.

Sponsored by:


UW School of Drama

For its fourth annual event, UW Drama’s 2015-2016 Performing Arts Lectures seek to engage scholars, theatre artists and administrators, and the theatre-going and drama-reading public in a discussion about the meaning of “new drama.”

The evening will consist of three 30 minute presentations followed by a reception. The featured speakers are: 

Todd London, School of Drama
What's New, and Who Decides?

School of Drama Executive Director Todd London takes us on a tour of contemporary American playwriting and what we think we know about it.

Adair Rounthwaite, School of Art + Art History + Design
Citizen Action: Political Radicalism in Contemporary Performance from Serbia and Slovenia

Adair Rounthwaite examines the performance of two groups whose work of the 2000s addressed the divisive politics of former Yugoslav member states: the Janez Janšas, based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and The Monument Group, based in Belgrade, Serbia. Both groups engage with questions of citizenship, in a way that evokes the multi-ethnic history of Yugoslavia. But their acts of mining that history don’t propose a nostalgic return to the socialist past. Rather, they aim to open political dialogue by problematizing the ethnically-identified politics of their present-day nation states.

Ellwood Wiggins, Department of Germanics
Old is the New New: Reinventing Catharsis from Bourgeois Tragedy to Post-Dramatic Theater 

Every new movement in German theater since the 18th century has promised a radical break from the conventional fare served up until just recently. Remarkably, cutting-edge theorists and practitioners of the theater invariably turn to Aristotle to explain their innovations. Many of the most disparate innovators frame their avant-gardism as a return to authentic Greek tragedy. Even when someone like Brecht presents his Epic Theater as “anti-Aristotelian,” a close look at the substance of his claims reveals a striking kinship to some of the key analytical terms from the Poetics. Through the lens of one concept in particular, the controversial notion of catharsis, this lecture will trace the curious reliance on the old to stage new drama from the Enlightenment to today.