Sunday, April 6, 2014

Upcoming DIG Writing Workshops

On April 21th at 5pm we will discuss the paper Unpacking Identity and its Miscellaneous Baggage by Carisa Bledsoe (Interarts - SMTD).

Time: 5pm
Location: MLB 2104
Invited Faculty: Holly Hughes

Unpacking Identity and its Miscellaneous Baggage is the written component of Carisa´s thesis performance: What the Tide Brought In.

What the Tide Brought In, a solo performance by Carisa Bledsoe.
Venue: Duderstadt Video Studio* Dates and Times: April 17th at 8pm and April 18th at 6pm and 8pm.  *Note: Seating will be first come first served and will be limited; please arrive early.

Carisa Bledsoe is an interdisciplinary performance artist who will graduate with a BFA in Interarts Performance, from the School of Theatre, Music, and Dance and the School of Art and Design in May.

Please let us know if you are coming so we can send you this paper.
For questions/concerns please contact:

On April 24th we will discuss  “Wooden Wars” – new Yiddish play about Polish-Jewish relationships by Jana Mazurkiewicz

Time: 6pm 
Location: 2439 - Walgreen Center 

About Joanna Mazurkiewicz:
Joanna Mazurkiewicz developed a strong interest in the “rejected daughter of Jewish culture” (Yiddish theatre). As a Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan, she continues her research into American Yiddish culture and contributes to its rich tradition through her multilingual play about Polish-Jewish relationships, the main language being Yiddish, in addition to English and Polish. The title of the play is Wooden Wars (“Hiltserne Milkhomes” in Yiddish and “Drewniane Wojny” in Polish). The play is slated to open in December 2014 and is expected to attract audiences from a wide range of backgrounds: Polish, Polish-American, Jewish, non-Jewish, and general theatre enthusiasts. The main goal to demonstrate that Yiddish can be revived not only in academia but also in the arts. Mazurkiewicz strives to encourage a discussion about a revival of Yiddish as a stage language and as a means of exploring the current state of Polish-Jewish relationships. 

For questions/concerns please contact:

The Drama Interest Group is a Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Process-Practice-Pedagogy, a DIG Symposium

Saturday, March 29th
Schedule of Events

Opening Remarks: 10:00-10:05 AM, Studio 2 
E.J. Westlake, Sponsor of the Drama Interest Group
Leigh Woods, Head of Theatre Studies

Session #1: 10:05-11:30 AM, Studio 2
Moderator: Leigh Woods
Juliet Guzzetta (Michigan State University) "The Theater of Narration: Italy, History, Performance."
Mbala Nkanga (University of Michigan), "The Tree of Knowledge and the Archeology of a Performance: Mvett"
E.J. Westlake (University of Michigan), "The Last Escape of Billy the Kid: Dramatizing Biography and the Corpse on Trial"

Session #2: 11:35 AM-1:00 PM, Studio 2
Early Modern Shifts
Moderator: Mbala Nkanga
Claudia Rene Wier, (York University, Toronto) "Shifty Identities in the Gestural Dynamics of the Commedia dell’Arte."
Leigh Woods, (University of Michigan) "Shakespeareland"
Dan Smith, (Michigan State University) "Cloistered Pleasures: Libertine Drama and the History of Play Reading."

Session #3: 2:05-3:25 PM, Studio 2
Moderator: Shelly Manis
Elizabeth Reitz Mullenix (Miami University), Barnum's Woman in [Red,] White [and Blue]: Carnival, Intertext, and the Performance of Nationhood."
Koritha Mitchell (Ohio State University), "Home as Civil Right: A Raisin in the Sun."
Ann Folino White (Michigan State University), "Cooking with the Stars: Celebrity and Consumer Culture in Early-Twentieth Century Cookbooks."

Session #4: 3:30-5:00 PM, Studio 2
Moderator: E.J. Westlake
Jonathan Chambers (Bowling Green State University), "Revising Homer: Rinde Eckert’s Highway Ulysses."
Abigail Dotz (University of Michigan) and Travis Ross (The Vintage Mojo), "Accessing Agamemnon: Communicating a Classic Through Modern Media."
Shelly Manis (University of Michigan), "Grave Robbing or Savvy Revision? What Happened when Kushner Revised Homebody/Kabul."

Saturday, March 8, 2014


The Department of Theatre & Drama and the Drama Interest Group present Agamemnon.

Directed by theatre professor Dr. E.J. Westlake, UM's Agamemnon is Aeschylus' classic Greek play with a modern twist. This production turns the world of Aeschylus on its head - full of modern day politics and scandal which highlights the timelessness of Aeschylus' famous play. Performances take in the Video Studio of the Duderstadt Center March 14th and 15th at 7:30. For more information, please follow us on twitter (@UMAgamemnon), on facebook (U of M Agamemnon) or at our website:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Kim Soga visits UofM presenting: “Realism After Neoliberalism: on Katie Mitchell'sWoman Killed With Kindness” and “The Activist Classroom: in theory and in practice”.

The Drama Interest Group invites you to attend a lecture and a graduate workshop by
Kim Solga

Lecture: “Realism After Neoliberalism: on Katie Mitchell'sWoman Killed With Kindness

February 17, 3pm, 3154 Angell Hall

Neoliberal statecraft; realist stagecraft: there's no love lost between performance scholars and either of these institutional symptoms of a stultifying modernity. But what if our longtime assumptions about the retrograde, conservative nature of stage realism have been too quick to dismiss the activist potential of Henrik Ibsen et al? Drawn from my new book project, and focused on the provocative case of Katie Mitchell's 2011 adaptation of Thomas Heywood's A Woman Killed With Kindness as bourgeois naturalism, this talk will make the case for the contemporary re-imagining of avant-garde realist dramaturgy and technique as one provisional but powerful artistic response to the social tyranny of neoliberal globalisation. The talk will be followed by a Q&A and a refreshment break.

Workshop: “The Activist Classroom: in theory and in practice”

February 17, 4:30pm, 3154 Angell Hall

Since March 2013 I've been writing a blog, titled The Activist Classroom (find me on Wordpress). In it I reflect on what it means to be a teacher who activates my students - critically, socially, politically. But what does an "activist" teacher do, exactly? What strategies does she employ? What are - or should be? - the limits of classroom activism? What more should we be doing? This workshop will offer a chance for student teachers/professors-in-training to think critically about their own pedagogical practice, as well as about broader teaching philosophies and pragmatics, as we share experiences and tips, talk about what teaching undergraduate students in the arts means right now, and consider the crucial role of mentorship in the process of professorial training. This workshop is open to all graduate students and faculty interested in discussing the possible intersections between activism and teaching.

Kim Solga is Senior Lecturer in Drama at Queen Mary, University of London. Her books include Violence Against Women in Early Modern Performance: Invisible Acts (2009; ppb 2013), the linked volumes New Canadian Realisms (2012), as well asPerformance and the City (2009; ppb 2011) and Performance and the Global City (2013), both edited with D.J. Hopkins. With Roberta Barker she is the co-editor of the Winter 2013 issue of Shakespeare Bulletin, focused on contemporary early modern performance and realist praxis, and she has two new articles on Middleton and Rowley's The Changeling forthcoming (in Bennett and Polito's Performing Environments, and in Jannarone's Vanguards of the Right). The recipient of the 2009 Marilyn Robinson Award for Excellence in Teaching from Western University, Canada, Kim blogs about teaching, learning, and political activism at

Friday, January 17, 2014

Get your dissertation (or article, or research paper, or creative writing piece) on!

Every year, the Drama Interest Group hosts  writing workshops for graduate
students. These involve short sessions where graduate students and faculty
gather to discuss dissertation chapters and other forms of writing in an
informal setting with an eye toward developing the work.

Several graduate students have participated and have found the feedback helpful.

We will be continuing the practice this year and are seeking interested
participants. The workshops can happen anywhere between February and May and should involve one chapter for which you would like feedback. Please contact the faculty sponsor E.J. Westlake (, or the graduate student coordinators Lucía Naser ( and Lauren Eriks (  for more information.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

On Tap for 2013-2014

On tap for this year for DIG: 

dissertation chapter/essay/creative writing/performance workshops for
graduate students (ongoing, please consider participating. Just send us a
request to workshop something!)

visit from feminist activist and early modern scholar Kim Solga (February)
mini-conference of regional scholars such as Koritha Mitchell, Ann Folino
White, Elizabeth Mullenix, Jonathan Chambers, and Claudia Wier (March 29th)

co-sponsorship with the Orientations Working Group of a visit from scholar
of Chinese performance Robert Bickers (April 1-3)


Department of Theatre & Drama to offer options for graduate students:

I wanted to also mention that the Department of Theatre & Drama is
committed to offering options for graduate students to take courses in our
department. Some DIG members have found that they can approach individual
professors about adding graduate sections of courses, especially those
upper-level undergraduate courses that have small enrollments. Several of
our combination grad-undergrad courses have been quite successful,
including Postmodernism and Performance, offered last term. Please be sure
to peruse our offerings.

Theatre Research Symposia:

Thursday, November 21st, 5:00-6:00 pm, Mbala Nkanga
"Blackness and Black Performers on the Parisian Stage, 1886-1960"

Tuesday, December 3rd, 5:00-6:00 pm, Anita Gonzalez
"Black Sea Acts: New Research in Maritime Performance"

Thursday, January 23rd, 5:00-6:00 pm, E.J. Westlake
"The Last Escape of Billy the Kid: Dramatizing Biography and the Corpse on

Thursday, February 13th, 5:00-6:00 pm, Leigh Woods
"Shakespeare and Me."

Lectures will take place on North Campus - 2439 Walgreen Drama Center

Monday, March 18, 2013

Music/Performativity/Politics: Writing at the Intersections

with recent alumni Katherine Steele Brokaw and Jennifer Solheim

Tuesday, March 26, 5:00 pm
3222 Angell Hall

"Tudor Musical Theater: Nicholas Udall's Respublica"
Katherine Steele Brokaw
Assistant Professor  - School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
University of California-Merced

In 1553, the Catholic Queen Mary had just taken the throne in England, and no one know to what extent she would restore the old musical church rites that had been expunged under her Protestant brother (King Edward VI). This same year, Nicholas Udall's political morality play Respublica was performed at court by a group of choirboys. While most critics have seen this play as deliberately avoiding religious controversy, I argue that the play's music obliquely addresses matters of church politics and doctrine. Udall's strategy is one of dissimulation: characters, actors, and playwright are all cloaked in various disguises, making the play's religious messages multivocal and thus able to appeal variously to audience members of mixed religious sympathies. The play thus uses the tools of music and theater to urge the Queen towards compromise on such ecclesiastical matters. While she ultimately ignored this suggestion (thus earning her nickname "Bloody Mary" for her prosecution of Protestants) Respublica reveals the extent to which the first year of her reign offered the possibility of social concord, thereby complicating received notions of this period.

“Beirut Calling: Lebanese Avant Jazz in Global and French Mediterranean Contexts”
Jennifer Solheim
Visiting Scholar, Department of French and Francophone Studies
University of Illinois—Chicago

On the night of July 15-16, 2006, avant jazz trumpeter Mazen Kerbaj set up his recording equipment on the balcony of his apartment in Ras Beirut, Lebanon, and began to record an improvised piece, using the sights and sounds of Israeli bombs as accompaniment. The resulting composition, which can be found on Kerbaj’s blog (, is a recording called “Starry Night.”

In this presentation, I analyze “Starry Night” through two contexts. First, I read the piece itself as an urgent call to the global community to take action against the Israeli bombings of Lebanon in the summer of 2006. Second, I look at the translation of Kerbaj’s blog into French for a print edition published by the Paris-based graphic novel publishers L’Association in 2007. With this second reading, I address the ways that “Starry Night” serves to oppose social assumptions of Arab masculinity as inherently violent.

Sponsored by the Drama Interest Group
a Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop
based in the Department of English Language and Literature
For information contact EJ Westlake -