The Performance Studies Working Group (PSWG) is a group of graduate students, professional school students, professors, and post-docs who are interested in the interdisciplinary field of performance studies.  We meet for weekly lunches to hear talks and discuss current work in the field.  Join us each Tuesday from 1-2 p.m.  We will typically meet in Rm 208 of the Whitney Humanities Center.  A light, catered lunch will be provided.

If you have work to share or event suggestions, please email: Elise Morrison (elise.morrison@yale.edu) and/or Mary Isbell (mary.isbell@yale.edu).

To subscribe to the PSWG email list (performance@panlists.yale.edu), please email one of the conveners listed above.


Saturday, March 2nd — Symposium:  Poetry as a Practice of Encounter

11 AM – 1 PM  Workcenter’s Open Program director Mario Biagini in dialogue with New Haven Review Editor Donald Brown

2-4 PM:  Roundtable discussion of Workcenter’s Open Program performances with Associate Dean for the ArtsSusan Cahan, Associate Professor Magda Romańska, Joshua Safran, film director Borys Lankosz, and Mario Biagini.


September 11 – Elise Morrison – Performing Citizen Arrest:  Surveillance Art and the Passerby

September 18 –  John Copper – Art / Performance / History

September 25 –  No meeting this week.

October 2 –  Elizabeth Wiet —  Jack Smith, Charles Ludlam, and the Objects of Camp

October 9 – Joseph Clarke – Sound of Architecture

October 16 –  Discussion of Richard Montoya’s American Night: The Ballad of Juan José (Yale Rep)

October 30 –  Cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy

November 6 –  Andrew Hannon — The San Francisco Diggers and Performance and Everyday Life

November 13 –  Lynda Paul — Las Vegas and Virtual Tourism: Sonic Shaping of Simulated Worlds

November 27 –  Discussion of David Adjmi’s Marie Antoinette (Yale Rep)

December 4 – Discussion of Sarah Ruhl’s Dear Elizabeth (Yale Rep)

Past Events

Spring 2013

January 15 – Margaret Olin:  Shaping Community: Poetics and Politics of the Eruv 

January 22  – Carolee Klimchock:  Humor Hung Like a Horse: Coachmen and Coaches as Satirical Sites for Discussions of Class and Power in the Gilded Age

January 29 – Joey Plaster:  Vanguard Revisited: Co-Performing Queer Histories in San Francisco’s Tenderloin

February 5 –  Discussion of the film John Frum: He Will Come with guests Cevin Soling and director David Guinan.  Moderated by Elinor Fuchs.

February 12 –  Session cancelled due to inclement weather

February 19 – Kathy Foley:  Tangible Intangibles: Heritage and Performance in Bordered Worlds

February 26 –  Meeting with Mario Biagini, Director of the Open Program of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards.  Discussion of Open Program’s Electric Party Songs and other performance events.

March 5 –  Kee-Yoon Nahm:   “This Solidity and Compound Mass:” Material Objects and Authenticity in The Wooster Group’s Hamlet

March 26 – Willa Fitzgerald:  Playing at Representation, Playing at War:  An Examination of the Wooster Group and The Royal Shakespeare’s Company’s Triolus and Cressida 

April 2 –   Discussion of Masrah Ensemble (Lebanon) Yale Event Series on Middle-Eastern Theatre (March 27-29)

April 9 – Magda Romańska:  Of Drammatology: Form and Content in Performative Exchange

April 16 –  Joint session with Yale School of Art

April 23 – Interdisciplinary Performance Studies at Yale: Past, Present and Future



Fall 2012

September 11 – Elise Morrison – Performing Citizen Arrest:  Surveillance Art and the Passerby

September 18 –  John Copper – Art / Performance / History

September 25 –  No meeting this week.

October 2 –  Elizabeth Wiet —  Jack Smith, Charles Ludlam, and the Objects of Camp

October 9 – Joseph Clarke – Sound of Architecture

October 16 –  Discussion of Richard Montoya’s American Night: The Ballad of Juan José (Yale Rep)

October 30 –  Cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy

November 6 –  Andrew Hannon — The San Francisco Diggers and Performance and Everyday Life

November 13 –  Lynda Paul — Las Vegas and Virtual Tourism: Sonic Shaping of Simulated Worlds

November 27 –  Discussion of David Adjmi’s Marie Antoinette (Yale Rep)

December 4 – Discussion of Sarah Ruhl’s Dear Elizabeth (Yale Rep)



May 1, 2012:  Alexandra Ripp (Dramaturgy MFA Candidate, Drama School) will present her paper entitled:  Remembering Atrocity On Site and Onstage: The Performance of Memory in Parque por la Paz Villa Grimaldi and Guillermo Calderón’s Villa.

April 24, 2012: Sara Shneiderman (Assistant Professor of Anthropology) will present her research on ritual performances and ethnic identity in the Himalaya regions of Nepal, Tibet, and China.

April 17, 2012: Carol Martin (Associate Professor of Drama, New York University) TBA

April 10, 2012: Brian Valencia (DFA Candidate, Drama School) will present a talk entitled “Musiturgy.”:

April 3, 2012: Madison Moore (Ph.D. Candidate in American Studies) will present new research on bass and American music and dance.

March 27, 2012: We will discuss the WPP production of The Rehearsal by Cuqui Jerez.

March 20, 2012: Alice Moore (Ph.D. Candidate, American Studies) will lead a discussion on the the first chapter of Rebecca Schneider’s recent book, Performing Remains.

February 28, 2012: Tanya Dean (DFA Candidate at the Drama School) will present her work-in-progress “Piano Guts and Other Mothers: Distance, Deconstruction and the Fantastic in David Greenspan and Stephen Merritt’s Coraline.”

February 21, 2012: Lucian Ghita (Ph.d. Candidate in Comp. Lit.) will lead a discussion on “presence”  and explore issues related to current conceptualizations of performance opened up by Amelia Jones’ recent TDR article “The Artist is Present:” Artistic Re-enactments and the Impossibility of Presence.  Please read Jones’ article in preparation for our discussion.

February 14, 2012: We will discuss the WPP production of Spectral Scriabin, designed by YSD professor Jennifer Tipton.

February 7, 2012: Anna Gawboy (Assistant Professor, Ohio State University School of Music) will discuss her 2010 collaboration with the Yale Symphony Orchestra and lighting designer Justin Townsend on a new staging of Alexander Scriabin’s Prometheus:  Poem of Fire based on her dissertation research.

January 31, 2012: Carolee Klimchock (Ph.D. Candidate in American Studies) will share her research on the nineteenth-century coachman craze.

January 24, 2012: Ilinca Todorut (Yale Drama School) will share her work-in-progress: a stage adaptation of Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov. Click to download the play and Ilinca’s accompanying analysis/explanation.

January 10, 2012: Paige McGinley (Asst. Prof. in Theater Studies and American Studies) will present her research on variety theater in the South in the teens and twenties and blues singing on the popular stage.

December 6, 2011: In our last meeting of the semester, Lucian Ghita (Comparative Literature) will present his mock job talk on Shakespearean adaptations.

November 29, 2011: Lynda Paul (Musicology Ph.D. Candidate) will present her research on musical performance practice, technology, and aesthetics in Cirque du Soleil’s Las Vegas shows.

November 15, 2011: Daniel Larlham (Lecturer in Theater Studies) will present his job talk, entitled “The Meaning in Mimesis.”

November 8, 2011: Discussion of World Performance Project’s performance Engagement Féminin: An Evening of West African Contemporary Dance and symposium, “Think Jam: Improvisation across Disciplines.”  Engagement Feminin is a work created and performed by Art’ Dév/Compagnie Auguste-Bienvenue, based in Burkina Faso, West Africa [Performances November 3-5]. Think Jam [November 5 at 2 pm] is “an improvised jam session with dancers, musicians, poets, and scholars, in which artistic and scholarly disciplines commingle. More information about the performance and symposium is available at the website of the World Performance Project.

November 1, 2011: Matt Cornish (Drama School D.F.A. Candidate) will present an article-in-progress entitled “Stop Just Going Along: The Dysfunctional Theatrics of René Pollesch,” available for download here.

October 25, 2011: We will discuss an article-in-progress by James O’Leary (Musicology Ph.D. Candidate), entitled “Oklahoma!’s ‘Lousy Publicity’: The Politics of Formal Integration in the American Musical Theater.”

October 18, 2011 – We’ll be reading and discussing Robin Bernstein‘s award-winning article, “Dances with Things: Material Culture and the Performance of Race,” adapted from her recent book Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights (NYU Press, 2011).  Robin, a graduate of the Yale American Studies program and a fellow explorer in interdisciplinary performance studies at Yale, is now a professor of African and African American Studies and of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality  at Harvard University.  Her article is accessible here.

October 11, 2011 – Julia Fawcett will lead a discussion on the use of the first person in performance studies texts and the problems it presents to the theater historian trying to negotiate the objective stance of the traditional historian with performance theorists’ critique of presumed objectivity.

October 4, 2011Dominika Laster will give a talk on Embodied Memory in the work of Jerzy Grotowski in conjunction with Thomas Richard’s and Workcenter Focused Research Team’s visit to Yale and their performance of The Living Room.

September 11 – Elise Morrison – Performing Citizen Arrest: Surveillance Art and the Passerby

Elise Morrison, the newest IPSY postdoctoral fellow, will present work from her current book project on ‘surveillance art’. The presentation will focus on several contemporary performance art pieces that stage critical artistic interventions into quotidian scenes of contemporary sociopolitical surveillance. These ‘surveillance art’ works strategically redeploy mainstream surveillance technologies in order to defamiliarize and disrupt the normalized operations of surveillance within public space and everyday life. In doing so, they seem to ‘arrest’ subjects of everyday surveillance in the habitual action of ‘passing by’ publicly installed surveillance cameras, and, within the arrested moment, foreground and reimagine aspects of surveillance society that have become so routine and normalized as to be invisible. Works by contemporary artists Jill Magid and the Surveillance Camera Players serve as particularly effective examples of this process, as these artists utilize theatrical methods to draw attention to normalized blindspots in the surveillant interface and to explore the range of possibilities for affective expression and human interaction available through publicly installed surveillance cameras.


Electric Party

March 3, 2013 at 4 PM  – BAR

254 Crown Street, New Haven, CT


Electric Party is a stream of dramatic elements – songs, rhythm, dance, poetry – that emerge from a seemingly casual atmosphere of a party in which the poetic word intersects with the present circumstances in which we are living. This experiment in the potentialities of a party as a form of art explores the edges of theatrical and social behavior, and plays with the sometimes ambiguous division between the two.  Electric Party is an articulated game that unfolds throughout the night:  songs, poems, dances and actions appear and disappear without resolution, continually playing with the rhythms of the party, riding its waves. While guests eat, socialize, drink and dance, the gathering arrives to moments of high intensity through structured and precise sequences of action performed by the Open Program Team.


Electric Party Songs

February 21 & 22, 2013 at 8 PM – Calhoun Cabaret

189 Elm Street  New Haven, CT 06511


Electric Party Songs created by the Workcenter’s Open Program under the direction of Mario Biagini, is a flow of songs and actions based on the poetry of American poet Allen Ginsberg (1927-1997). Members of this international group elaborated and composed all of the songs, approaching the meanings, rhythms and sounds of the spoken texts as the seeds of musical and dramatic creation. Their varied backgrounds generate a stylistically diverse body of music, drawing inspiration from blues, rock, pop, opera, punk, and traditional sources. The team weaves into Electric Party Songs its investigation of traditional songs from the Southern United States and the possibility of catalyzing contacts and interactions.

I Am America

February 28 & March 1, 2013  –  Whitney Theater

53 Wall Street,  New Haven, CT 06511


I Am America, directed by Mario Biagini, brings the poetry of Allen Ginsberg to life in a visceral performance with language culled from Ginsberg’s poetry as well as calls, shouts and traditional songs from the American South.  Original compositions by members of the Workcenter Open Program, developed in intensive collaboration over a period of three years, complement and build upon these sources.

Joseph Roach

Joseph Roach, IPSY Principal Investigator, Sterling Professor of Theater and English


A theater historian, stage director, and performance studies scholar, Joseph Roach is the author of The Player’s Passion:  Studies in the Science of Acting (1985), Cities of the Dead:  Circum-Atlantic Performance (1996) and It (2007).  He is the editor (with Janelle Reinelt) of Critical Theory and Performance (2nd edition, revised 2007) and Changing the Subject:  Marvin Carlson and Theatre Studies, 1959-2009 (2009).  His publications have been recognized by the James Russell Lowell Prize from the Modern Language Association, the Barnard Hewitt Award in Theatre History, and the Joe E. Calloway Prize for Drama.  Before coming to Yale, he chaired the Department of Performing Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, the Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre at Northwestern University, and the Department of Performance Studies in the Tisch School of Arts at NYU.

He is the recipient of a Lifetime Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Society for Theatre Research and a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which funds the World Performance Project at Yale. In 2009, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Warwick (UK) and the Fletcher Jones Distinguished Fellowship from the Huntington Library.