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Alex Baines

Alex Baines received a BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Oxford in 2012 and an MA in Text and Performance from Birkbeck, University of London and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 2014. His research interests are focused on reconstructed, repurposed, and historically-informed aesthetic spaces and their capacity to function effectively as centres of education and community engagement. He is also interested in the transnational exportation of British history and ‘Britishness’ through popular culture and theatre and drama. He has lived and worked as an educator and theatre maker in various places around the world including Cambridge (UK), Moscow, rural south-west England, and Shanghai. Alex is affiliated with the British Studies cluster and is the recipient of a Mellon Interdisciplinary Cluster Fellowship.

Rebekah Bryer

Rebekah Bryer received her BA in History/Theatre and Dance Studies from Wheaton College (MA) and her MA in Public History from Northeastern University. Her research interests are focused on the various intersections of performance and public memory in American culture from the eighteenth century to the present day. Her dissertation project examines how memorials facilitated and helped construct contested performances of American national identity in the wake of the American Civil War. She has been published in The Washington Post, Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies, and The Atlas of Boston History. She has been awarded fellowships from the American Antiquarian Society, the Boston Athenaeum, and a Mellon Interdisciplinary Cluster Fellowship through her affiliation with the Rhetoric and Public Culture Cluster at Northwestern. Outside of research at Northwestern, she is the Graduate Assistant for Public Humanities at the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities (2020-2021), the co-coordinator of the Northwestern Graduate Public Humanities Colloquium, and serves on the Graduate Student Advisory Council for the Center for Civic Engagement.

Chelsea Taylor

Chelsea Taylor holds a BA in Theatre and English from Trinity University and an MA in Theatre Studies and Dramaturgy from the University of Houston. Her current research explores how live performances that adapt biblical stories at contemporary Christian tourist destination across the United States function as immersive preaching techniques, giving old narratives new spiritual impacts for their audiences. Her work has been supported by the Buffet Travel Grant and the Mellon Interdisciplinary Cluster Fellowship, and she has presented her writing on panels at ATHE and MATC. At Northwestern, Chelsea also serves as a Graduate Writing Place Fellow and is affiliated with the Critical Global Avant-Garde and Modernist Studies Cluster.

Janine Chow

Janine Chow received her BA in English from Yale University, where she wrote her thesis on Matilda the Musical. Her research examines how children and childhoods are performed in American musical theatre, with attention to adaptive shifts between source text and production. As a sound designer, she enjoys examining technical theatre and how visceral elements shape one’s cerebral experience of a show.

Maria De Simone

Maria De Simone holds a BA in English and Spanish and an MA in American Literature from Cà Foscari University in Venice (Italy). Her dissertation retraces the off-stage and on-stage lives and personas of immigrant vaudeville performers in the United States between 1880 and 1924. She is interested in immigrant artists’ deployments of racial impersonation as a stage device and as a tool to grapple with questions of identity, assimilation, and foreignness in early-twentieth-century America. At Northwestern, she is affiliated with the Gender and Sexuality Cluster and is the recipient of a Mellon Interdisciplinary Cluster Fellowship.

Ana Díaz Barriga

Ana Díaz Barriga received a BA in Drama from the University of Glamorgan (UK) and an MA in Advanced Theatre Practice from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (UK). She is the recipient of a Mellon Cluster Fellowship in Science Studies. Her research investigates what the minds and bodies of puppetry audiences can tell us about the ontology of the puppet in contemporary puppet performance using methods drawn from cognitive science and theatre studies.

Laura Jeanne Ferdinand

Laura Jeanne Ferdinand is a Presidential Fellow and doctoral candidate at Northwestern University who specializes in the intersections of gender, race, class, and performance in constructions of history and culture in the US South. Her current research examines the twentieth-century origins of southern identity, situating performances of racialized southern femininity at the heart of the region’s most pivotal and prolific period of cultural production. Laura works with organizations across Northwestern, serving as a writing fellow at The Graduate Writing Place and a freelance editor at Northwestern University Press. She is the recipient of fellowships from Northwestern, Emory, University of Georgia, and Miami University where she served as instructor of theatre. She has presented her work at the American Society for Theatre Research, Association for Theatre in Higher Education, and Mid-Atlantic Theatre Conference. Her writing is featured in Theatre History Studies.

Jessica Friedman

Jessica Friedman received a BA in Ethnic and Racial Studies from Columbia University and has completed graduate studies in Theatre and Dance at UC San Diego. Her research focuses on American modern dance in the 1940s. She is the recipient of a Dance Studies Association Selma Jeanne Cohen award for excellence in research and writing, as well as research fellowships from the New York Public Library and the 92nd Street YM-YWHA.

Heather Grimm

Heather Grimm received her B.A. in Theatre and Economics from Denison University, and her M.A. in Theatre and Performance from Queen Mary University of London. Her research interests include the history of theatre in corporate and industrial contexts, heterodox political economy, and the performance of regional American cultures (specifically Appalachian and Midwestern) within a mass cultural context.

Alícia Hernàndez Grande

Alícia Hernàndez Grande earned her BA in English and Theatre from Rice University and her MA in Theatre History and Dramaturgy at the University of Houston. Her dissertation project considers the development of Catalan cultural identity and independence politics through theatre, spectacle, and public protest. Her project and research interests also intersect with historical memory, trauma, and public spectacle. Other research interests include sports, including the Olympic Games, the World Cup, and Formula 1. She is affiliated with the British Studies cluster and with Northwestern’s The Writing Place.

Megan Housley

Megan Housley received her BA in Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic (!) from the University of Cambridge, UK; her DipGrad in Theatre Studies from the University of Otago, NZ; and her MA in English Literature from the University of Warwick, UK. Broadly speaking, her research focuses on networks of cultural production and different popular performances of national identity during the protracted formation of the Kingdom of Great Britain. She is additionally interested in performances of Renaissance and Enlightenment political thought, both on and off the stage. Megan is affiliated with Northwestern’s British Studies Graduate Cluster and is the recipient of a Mellon Interdisciplinary Cluster Fellowship.

Hayana Kim

Hayana Kim examines contemporary South Korean artistic and activist performances in service of democracy.  Her dissertation, titled “Embodying Democracies: The Gwangju Uprising and the Politics of Mourning, 1980 – 2020,” explores the role of performance in dismantling oppressive politics. Her work has been supported by the Mellon/SSRC’s International Dissertation Research Fellowship, and the Buffett Institute of Global Studies. Her publication includes a book chapter, titled “Reckoning with Historical Conflicts in East Asian Theatre Festivals: The BeSeTo Theatre Festival and the Gwangju Media Arts Festival,” in Cambridge Companion to International Theatre Festivals (2020). Her teaching experience as instructor of record includes Asian American Theatre and Theatre and Performance in East Asia.

Claudia Kinahan

Claudia Kinahan holds a BA in Drama and Theatre Studies from Trinity College-the University of Dublin, where she was awarded a gold medal upon graduation. Her doctoral research examines artificial intelligence through the lens of performance studies; particularly the performative aspects of artificially intelligent humanoids. She maintains an artistic practice and has performed and directed across numerous Irish stages. As a playwright, her second play was commissioned by a leading Irish theatre and produced in December 2019. You can find out more about her work here:

Alex Knapp

Alex Knapp received his BPhil in Theatre Arts and Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh, and his M.A. in Theatre and Performance Studies from Washington University in St. Louis. Alex’s research interests focus on contemporary performance, materialism(s)/material culture, and aesthetic theory, with a particular attention to affect theory, ecological philosophy, human-nonhuman relations, and political history, theory, and economy. Alex is also a trained actor.

Liz Laurie

Liz Laurie received her BA in Classical Civilization from New York University and an MA in Theatre from Hunter College. Her dissertation project explores representations of gender and sexuality in cosplay at fan conventions in the United States. Her research interests include popular culture, digital humanities, and fan practice as performance. She is affiliated with the Gender and Sexuality Cluster and is a fellow at Northwestern’s The Writing Place.

Dwayne Keith Mann

Dwayne Keith Mann is a Ph.D. candidate at Northwestern University. He holds a graduate degree in Performance Studies from New York University, where he delivered a Master’s thesis on aesthetics, figuration, labor, and black things. His dissertation project, part of the Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre and Drama program, studies late-nineteenth century parade and drill performance on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, disclosing intersectional spaces of national and state military defense strategies, musical theatre performance, and black male figuration. Dwayne is also the Artistic Director of kei•aesthetic production &design, an arts and leisure warehouse specializing in intellectual gameplays.

Rachel Merrill Moss

Rachel Merrill Moss is a doctoral candidate in the Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre and Drama at Northwestern University and a 2018-2019 Fulbright grantee to Poland. She holds a BA in Theatre from the University of California, Santa Cruz and an MA in Theatre History and Criticism from CUNY Brooklyn College. Rachel’s dissertation examines a variety of stage and public performances in Poland, specifically exploring shifting representations of Jewishness from the interwar period to post-soviet era, in conversation with changing modes of national identity formation. At Northwestern, she is a member of the Jewish Studies cluster and the Buffett Institute Russian and Eastern European Studies working group. Rachel has presented work at ASTR, ATHE, ASEEES, BASEES, and the Polish-Jewish Studies Working Group and has been published in the Journal of American Drama and Theatre.

Gabrielle Randle

Gabrielle Randle received a BA in Drama and Sociology from Stanford University and an MA in Performance as Public Practice from The University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests include conscious dramaturgical interventions in the staging of protest and survival. Her research currently centers on the acts of testimony and witness in the performance of Black Women Revolutionaries. Gabrielle is affiliated with the Comparative Race and Diaspora Cluster and is the recipient of a Mellon Interdisciplinary Cluster Fellowship.

Matthew Randle-Bent

Matthew Randle-Bent received his BA from the University of Warwick, and his MA from Queen Mary, University of London. His dissertation is about theatrical institution-building toward internationalist political ends during the 1970s. He focuses on the artistic and intellectual production surrounding international festivals of this era – including Shiraz, Belgrade, Nancy, and the numerous festivals held under the auspices of the International Theatre Institute – highlighting unfinished histories of radical performance, as well as the transnational foundations of performance theory in the Global South. He also writes about contemporary performance, reflecting an interest in critical spectatorship and dramaturgy. He has presented work at IFTR, ASTR, and ATHE, and his writing has been published in Contemporary Theatre Review and He is a fellow in Middle East and North African studies, and during 2020-21 he will be a graduate fellow with Northwestern University Press.

Eleanor Russell

Eleanor Russell received a BA in Religious Studies from Grinnell College and an MA in Theatre History and Criticism from CUNY Brooklyn College. Her dissertation explores mid-twentieth century stand-up comedy on record and its relationship to avant-garde performance practices. She is affiliated with the Critical Theory Cluster. She hosts a podcast on sound and performance:

Rachel Russell

Rachel Russell, from Baltimore, MD, holds a BFA in Dance Pedagogy from Columbia College Chicago and a MA in Performance Studies from New York University. Her research includes understanding, documenting, and conceptualizing the present day history of Black Women dancers, choreographers and their predecessors. Rachel is affiliated with the Interdisciplinary Cluster in Gender & Sexuality and is the recipient of a Mellon Interdisciplinary Cluster Fellowship.

Skye Strauss

Skye Strauss worked as a costume designer and technician before joining IPTD. Her research grows out of her artistic practice, using new materialism and puppetry theory to explore how design contributes to rehearsal and performance.  In her dissertation, “Materiality Matters: On the Power of ‘Things’ in Collective Creation,” Skye argues that materiality becomes an important source of inspiration during the devising process across the disciplines of dance, circus, and theatre. She explores how the performing objects onstage foster intense affective and emotional experiences for the audience. Her research was funded by an International Student Travel Grant from The United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT).  She received additional support from Northwestern, receiving both a Graduate Research Grant and a School of Communication Ignition Grant.  She has presented her writing in the Puppetry and Material Performance Working Group at ASTR and in panel presentations on design and circus at ATHE. She has published a performance review in Puppetry International, a book review in Theatre Topics, and a book chapter on Michael Curry in Theatre Artisans and Their Craft.  She is currently writing a piece on director and designer Bill Mitchell for TD&T.  Skye earned her B.A. in Theatre with University Honors at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and her M.A. in Theatre and Performance Studies from Queen’s University Belfast (Northern Ireland) as a Rotary Scholar. When she is not on campus, she can be found building magical things or hanging upside down at the circus. See examples at:

Weston Twardowski

Weston Twardowski holds dual BAs in History and Theatre from Louisiana State University, and an MA in Theatre Studies from the University of Houston. His current research looks at post-Katrina New Orleans and the ways in which performance serves as a critical site for navigating community and civic identity in the wake of mass trauma. He has worked professionally as an actor and director, and is currently the literary manager of Third Culture Theatre in Los Angeles where he is also a resident director.

Linnea Valdivia

Linnea C Valdivia earned her B.A. in English from Whitman College before starting at Northwestern in 2020. She is the recipient of a Mellon Cluster Fellowship in Gender and Sexuality Studies. Her research interests include queerness in early America, medicalization of the body and theatrical performance as a site of queer meaning-making. In addition to her scholarly pursuits, she also is a professional freelance dramaturg, producer and playwright with special focuses on new work development and Latinx theatre.

Keary Watts

Keary Watts is a Ph.D. candidate, a Franke Graduate Fellow at the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, and a Graduate Teaching Fellow at the Searle Center for Advanced Learning and Teaching. He is working on a dissertation that tracks and theorizes the political and historiographic potential of “strategic re-deployment,” or the purportedly anti-racist incorporation of nineteenth-century blackface minstrel conventions by minoritarian theatre artists in the contemporary era. He is an Auburn University (B.A.) and Washington University in St. Louis (M.A.) alum.

Elena Weber

Elena Weber received her BA and MA in Media Studies, Theater Studies and Art History from the University of Cologne. Her research interests include ethnographic methods, urban studies, spatial practices, and the performative reproduction and reenactment of history. Elena’s dissertation is a mixed-method, ethnographic and archival project on public performances in Rome’s historic center. It creates a genealogy centralizing performances in the formation and perpetuation of ideology.