Past 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.

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

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.

UW Performance Studies Research Group

The UW Performance Studies Research Group is pleased to announce a lecture by Harvey Young, Northwestern University, on Friday, January 22, in the Simpson Center for the Humanities. Please join us!
“A Racist Love Note: Stereotypes and Caricatures in early 20th Century Valentine’s Day Cards.”
5pm, Friday, January 22 
Communications (CMU) 120
Description: This presentation spotlights the darker side of Valentine’s Day, the sending of caricature greeting cards featuring popular (and negative) stereotypes of African Americans. Harvey Young reveals the wide appeal of such cards and discusses how their circulation informed 20th century US racial discourse. Applying the language of performance studies to activate the material archive, Young demonstrates how early valentines enabled “race play,” a role playing of and a reveling in the excesses of imagined black identity.  
A reception follows in the Simpson Center (CMU 206).
Dr. Young will also be a participant in a discussion following the Seattle Repertory Theatre matinee performance of Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize winning drama Disgraced on Saturday, January 23.

Harvey Young’s research on the performance and experience of race has been widely published in academic journals, profiled in The New YorkerThe Wall Street Journal and The Chronicle of Higher Education and cited in The New York Times and The Boston Globe. He has published seven books, including Embodying Black Experience, winner of “Book of the Year” awards from the National Communication Association and the American Society for Theatre Research and, most recently, Black Theater is Black Life: An Oral History of Chicago Theater (coauthored with Mecca Zabriskie). Dr. Young has served on the Board of Directors of the American Society for Theatre Research, the Yale Club of Chicago, and the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago. A former Harvard and Stanford fellow, he graduated with honors from Yale and holds a Ph.D. from Cornell. He is currently President-elect of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, the largest association dedicated to college/university theatre with nearly 2,000 members, and the editor of Theatre Survey, the journal of the American Society for Theatre Research.

The Performance Studies Research Group draws together scholars from various disciplines to read and discuss foundational and new work in Performance Studies. We also host quarterly talks by leading scholars from US and international universities. Past speakers include Shannon Jackson (Berkeley), Soyini Madison (Northwestern), and Rebecca Schneider (Brown). Through regular discussions of readings in Performance Studies and quarterly talks by speakers, we are laying the foundations for the University of Washington to be a vital space for sustained conversation about how Performance Studies helps us know the world around us.


Performance Studies Research Group

Seattle Repertory Theatre

The Performance Studies Research Group is pleased to announce a special panel co-sponsored with the Seattle Repertory Theatre in conjunction with this month’s production of Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning drama, DISGRACED:


7:30 PM, Monday, January 11, 2016
Communications Building 120
Free and open to the public

In the current cultural climate where Islamophobia is rampant and further exacerbated by recent events, this Speak Up! addresses how Muslims in the U.S. and abroad proactively give back to their communities without sacrificing their faith and identity.  In partnership with Seattle Repertory Theatre's production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Ayad Akhtar Disgraced, beginning January 8, 2016, this panel will discuss the following thematic question of the play, "What is the reality of being a Muslim American at this moment in time?" A ticket discount for Seattle Repertory Theatre's Disgraced will be offered to attendees of this discussion. For more information about the production and other related events, visit This event is presented as part of a series of panels, in conjunction with the University of Washington Graduate and Professional Student Senate, UW School of Drama, Simpson Center for the Humanities, Town Hall Seattle and Seattle Repertory Theatre.

Panel Speakers:
Monica Cortés Viharo (PhD Student, School of Drama UW), moderator
Lesley Hazleton (author of The First Muslim),
Behzad Dabu (Disgraced actor, Abe)
Karam Dana (Assistant Professor, School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences UW, Bothell) 
Duygu Erdoğan Monson (Faculty, Shoreline Community College and School of Drama PhD student)  

Attendees will receive a code for a 30% discount on tickets for DISGRACED 

Please join us for this important conversation!


The Performance Studies Research Group draws together scholars from various disciplines to read and discuss foundational and new work in Performance Studies. We also host quarterly talks by leading scholars from US and international universities. Through regular discussions of readings in Performance Studies and quarterly talks by speakers, we are laying the foundations for the University of Washington to be a vital space for sustained conversation about how Performance Studies helps us know the world around us.


School of Drama, PhD program

Friday, December 4, from 1:30 to 2:30pm, the School of Drama PhD program is hosting a brown bag lunch talk and discussion with Jeremy Ehrlich, former Head of Education at the Folger Shakespeare Library. 

Jeremy will tell us about the ins and outs of researching in the archives (what’s there, how to get to it, what’s involved, etc.).  Anyone looking for the scoop on archival research now or in the future is welcome to join us!  
Friday, December 4, 1:30-2:30, Hutchinson 154. Feel free to bring a lunch or snack!

Performance Studies Research Group



On the Performance Front: US Theatre and Internationalism

This lecture argues that United States theatre in the twentieth century embraced the theories and practices of internationalism as a way to realize a better world and as part of the strategic reform of the theatre into a national expression. Live performance, theatre internationalists argued, could represent and reflect the nation like no other endeavor. Charlotte Canning focuses on US theatre’s international efforts without losing sight of either the ways these efforts mirrored those in other countries or the complex, often conflicting, relationship between internationalism and nationalism.

Charlotte Canning is the Frank C Erwin, Jr. Centennial Professor in Drama in the Department of Theatre & Dance at the University of Texas. She is head of the Performance as Public Practice MA/MFA/PhD programs and Director of the Oscar G. Brockett Center for Theatre History, Criticism & Literature. She is the author of On the Performance Front: US Theatre and Internationalism (2015), Representing the Past: Essays in Performance Historiography (2010), co-edited with Thomas Postlewait, The Most American Thing in America: Circuit Chautauqua as Performance (2005), and Feminist Theaters In The USA: Staging Women’s Experience (1996). Canning is Senior Editor for Theatre Research International and serves on the Executive Committee of the Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics.

Sponsored by the Performance Studies Research Group, a crossdisciplinary research cluster at the Simpson Center for the Humanities

Rebecca Schneider
Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, Brown University

4pm, Friday, April 24, 120 Communications
Reception to Follow in Simpson Center.

Extending a Hand: Gesture, Duration and the (Non)Human Turn

What are the limits of “liveness” in so-called live artwork? What is the duration of gesture? Thinking about call and response, or hail and acknowledgement, Schneider asks: How long can call lie in wait for response? How far can a hail extend? Schneider looks at mid-century art works emphasizing gesture and hands. She also considers negative hand prints at Paleolithic cave sites as well as the rock face itself to address questions of agency and “inter(in)animacy.” If hands are vehicles of extension, what is extended in extending a hand? If we can be done with the limits of “representation” what about the slippery skin of mimesis as rock touches (or enters) hand, hand rock? What are the vulnerabilities of geologic time in relationship to human time? Who performs? Who calls? Who responds?

Rebecca Schneider, Professor in the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, teaches performance studies, theater history, and theories of intermedia. She is the author of  Theatre and History (Palgrave 2014), Performing Remains: Art and War in Times of Theatrical Reenactment (Routledge 2011) and The Explicit Body in Performance (Routledge, 1997). She has coedited the anthology Re:Direction: A Theoretical and Practical Guide to 20th-Century Directing  and a special issue of TDR: The Drama Review on Precarity and Performance (2012) . She is a consortium editor for TDR, contributing editor to Women and Theatre, coeditor with David Krasner of the book series "Theatre: Theory/Text/Performance" with University of Michigan Press, and consulting editor for the series "Performance Interventions" with Palgrave Macmillan.

Organized by the Performance Studies Research Group, a Crossdisciplinary Research Cluster sponsored by the Simpson Center for the Humanities.

D. Soyini Madison

Performance Studies Research Group

The talk will discuss the embodied and critical artistry of performance ethnography and how the felt-sensing experiences of fieldwork research are enacted and translated both on the public stage and within the intimate, ethnographic encounters of those everyday moments in the field. As more and more people, across academic disciplines and grass roots initiatives, are committed to ethnographic work they are compelled to share their experiences, to become unapologetic advocates, and to communicate lessons learned from their field research across landscapes and borders—distant and near—to their home-place locations as well as to others, e.g., friends, colleagues, collaborators, and strangers extending and transforming ethnographic inquiry forward to multiple constituencies and artistic expressions. The keynote will share examples of performance ethnography as an affective, felt-sensing politics staged across private and public ethnographic spaces. The talk will also call upon beauty as a communicative tactic for justice in bringing forth storied ethnographies as embodied experiences and enfleshed critique.

D. Soyini Madison (PhD 1989, Northwestern University) is professor of Performance Studies at Northwestern University School of Communication, with appointments in the Department of African American Studies and the Department of Anthropology. Professor Madison lived and worked in Ghana, as a Senior Fulbright Scholar conducting field research on the interconnections between traditional religion, political economy, and indigenous performance tactics.

This lecture is the second of three lectures presented by the Performance Studies Research Group, and is free and open to the public. A reception to follow. For questions, please contact Scott Magelssen, Associate Professor of Theatre History, at

The lecture and reception are in the Communications Building Room 120.

Shannon Jackson

Performance Studies Research Group


In the last two decades, readers, critics, artists, curators, and citizen-spectators have been contending with a new--or newly redefined--ethos of performance. Curators now regularly install choreography in galleries.  Visual artists are staging operas. Performances are staged in the lobbies of museums as well in at the center of its exhibitions. Meanwhile, civic leaders tout the importance of “creativity” in vitalizing cities, seeking to attract designers, new restaurants, and technology entrepreneurs to their neighborhoods. Cities stage site-specific festivals and promote themselves within an expanding roster of international biennials. Cultural centers around the globe consistently use a performance-centered vocabulary to frame their aesthetic contributions and their public programming and outreach. In this expanded cultural landscape, all participants are encouraged to act, to experience, to stage, and to try out alternate selves and behaviors. Meanwhile, many wonder whether this compulsion to perform is symptomatic of a wider global shift, one that sees cultural economies fueling and being fueled by the pressures of so-called “post-Fordist” service economy. 

In her lecture, Shannon Jackson takes stock of recent trends in a wide cultural landscape. Recalling some of the central debates in the field of performance studies, she explores and juxtaposes the very different vocabularies and histories that artists, critics, curators, and citizens bring to bear in this scene of aesthetic and social experiment. She also examines key sites of experimentation and debate, asking how artists and organizers are incorporating but also questioning the experiential ethos of a service economy.

Shannon Jackson is the Richard & Rhoda Goldman Chair in the Arts & Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is a professor of Rhetoric and of Theater, Dance, & Performance Studies. She is also the Director of the Arts Research Center.