Current Students

The DTSA has a diverse membership of theatre scholars working in a variety of periods, regions, and theoretical fields. Here are some short bios and pictures of many of the students in the Ph.D. Program in Theatre at the CUNY Graduate Center.

JAMES ARMSTRONG is a Ph.D. Candidate and playwright. His short play The State of Colorado v. Tennessee Williams was recently published in Canyon Voices, and his full-length play Capital will premiere this spring at Detroit Repertory Theatre. His research focuses mainly on the nineteenth century, and his article on the actress Eliza O’Neill appeared in Theatre Notebook. His theatre reviews have appeared in European Stages, The Dickensian, and The Edgar Allan Poe Review. He holds an M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing from Carnegie Mellon University and a B.A. from Drew University. In addition to teaching at CUNY, he also teaches English at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City.

SHANE BREAUX is a Ph.D. Candidate, currently writing his dissertation on African, Latin, and Asian-American clowns and their performances of race and nationality on early twentieth century musical variety stages. He has presented papers on topics ranging from racialized performances in musical comedy to William Shakespeare’s presence in the digital age, and his work has been published in Theatre Journal. Shane has taught various theatre history and text analysis courses at City College, Brooklyn College, and Marymount Manhattan College. He also serves as the Resident Dramaturg for New York Shakespeare Exchange and his frequent collaborator (and frequent husband) director Ross Williams, with whom he has co-taught master classes in performing Shakespeare at Texas A&M and in Salvador, Brazil. In January of 2016, he was the production dramaturg on Edward Albee’s The Goat in Tokyo, Japan. Now if you’ll excuse him, Shane must get back to writing.

RYAN DONOVAN is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Theatre program. His dissertation, “Broadway Bodies: Casting Disability and Difference in Broadway Musicals since A Chorus Line,” both examines the ways musicals use stigmatized and non-normative bodies and looks at how this is intimately tied to casting practices and changing notions of fitness and ability. He regularly shares research at conferences (ATHE, ASTR, Song, Stage and Screen) and has published in Studies in Musical Theatre. He has taught various courses at Baruch College and Hunter College. Ryan is a graduate of The New School and earned his MPhil at The Graduate Center, CUNY. He is a member of ASTR, ATHE, and CORD/SDHS.

CHLOË RAE EDMONSON, Ph.D. Candidate, joined the Doctoral Theatre Program at the Graduate Center in 2012 after completing her M.A. in Performance Studies at NYU. Her dissertation research focuses on drinking culture within New York City theatre and performance, from concert saloons to speakeasies to Broadway lobbies to contemporary immersive theatre. She has presented several papers at ATHE and ASTR, and shared her artistic research at CATR (Canadian Association for Theatre Research). Born and raised in Austin, Chloë is also a yoga teacher, runner, dog-lover, and travel enthusiast. Chloë graduatedsumma cum laude from Trinity University in San Antonio with a B.A. in Theatre and English in 2009.

MARGIT EDWARDS, M.A., M.F.A., is a Ph.D student in Theatre at CUNY Graduate Center. Ms. Edwards is currently teaching in the Department of Communication and Theater Arts at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. For the last 20 years, Ms. Edwards has been a dancer, choreographer, dance researcher, actor, director, arts administrator and educator. She received a M.A. in Dance from UCLA in 2003 and a M.F.A. in Experimental Choreography from UC Riverside in 2006. Her recent directorial and choreographic projects have included: “Ruined” by Lynn Nottage at The BlackBox Theater, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 2014 and “Demerara Gold” by Ingrid Griffith presented at the MIdtown International Theatre Festival in New York City. Ms. Edwards areas of interest are African Diaspora Performance practices, Black Performance Theory and Folkloric Performance.

FABIÁN ESCALONA SAN MARTIN, Ph.D. Student, joined the Doctoral Program in Theater at the Graduate Center in 2014. He has a B.A in History and Theory of Art from the Universidad de Chile and has a background in Latin American Studies. His research interests include Latin American colonial and contemporary performance, Post-colonial Theory, and Human Rights. Currently, he is an instructor for Introduction to Theatre at Hunter College (CUNY). In Chile, he worked as a theatre critic and has taught undergraduate courses on Art History, Theatre and Human Rights. He has also worked on Human Rights and Memory in the Chilean concentration camp Estadio Nacional, and he has done theatre workshops with inmates in several Chilean prisons.

MEIR AMIR FARJOUN is a second-year Ph.D. Student at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He holds an M.A. from Tel-Aviv University. He has co-created and performed in various theatre and performance works including Saddam Hussein – A Mystery Play (2011, featured in Theater Der Welt Festival, Mannheim 2014), The General and the Sea (Hazira, 2015) and Debriefing Session II (by Public Movement, Guggenheim Museum, NYC 2016).

BENJAMIN GILLESPIE, Ph.D. Candidate, joined the doctoral program in 2011 after completing an M.A. in theatre studies at York University in Canada. His dissertation challenges conventional approaches to aging and the life course through new approaches to late style aesthetics in contemporary theatre and performance. Benjamin is adjunct lecturer in theatre at Marymount Manhattan College and writing fellow at Lehman College, CUNY. He is Assistant Editor of PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art. His articles and reviews have appeared in such journals as Theatre Journal, Theatre Survey, Theatre Research in Canada, and Canadian Theatre Review, and he has also contributed to a number of anthologies. He has presented at conferences across the U.S. and Canada on contemporary experimental performance.

ANDREW GOLDBERG, Ph.D. Student, holds an M.F.A. in Performance and Interactive Media Arts from Brooklyn College and a B.A. in English from Stanford University. His research interests include contemporary performance, political theatre, the intersection of technology and performance, and Ibsen and modern drama. He presented his paper “An Enemy of the Peoplein the Age of WikiLeaks” at the Thomas Ostermeier Symposium in London in the fall of 2014. Outside of academia, Andrew has been a director, producer, and teaching artist in New York City for over twenty years. As a director his work has been seen on Broadway, the West End, Chicago, Dublin, Edinburgh, Berlin, Perth, and Tokyo. In addition to teaching at City College and Brooklyn College, he runs the Shakespeare Gym where he teaches physical and vocal approaches to classical acting.

ALEKSEI GRINEKO, Ph.D. Candidate, is completing his dissertation, which investigates the history of representations of madness and distressed interiority in the Broadway musical. He has contributed articles and reviews to Theatre Journal, Studies in Musical Theatre, European Stages and Slavic and East European Performance and is preparing a chapter for an anthology on the post-1970s musical. Aleksei has created and taught practical and theoretical theatre courses at the City College of New York, including introduction to theatre, musical theatre, Russian theatre, and acting. As a Fellow of the GC Center for the Humanities, he contributes research and translations for various interdisciplinary projects in the arts and public humanities. Aleksei trained, taught and worked as an actor and director in his native Belarus for over ten years. He continues to collaborate with Eastern European theatre companies on Russian-language productions. His translations of the American songbook and several Anglophone musicals (most recently Next to Normal) are part of the active repertory of Belarus.

ANNA HARB, Ph.D. Candidate, has presented papers at ATHE and the Philadelphia Theatre Research Symposium, and her article about The Emperor Jones appears in the online journal, Praxis. Research interests include theatre and pedagogy, theatre of the real, and theatre and sociology.




JOSEPH PAUL HILL, Ph.D. Student, researches the intersections of d/Deaf, disability, and performance studies; the body as spectacle in nineteenth-century U.S. and Western Europe; and the sociology of U.S. regional theatre. He is also currently working on his capstone project for the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate program. Joseph has two B.A. degrees from California State University, Fullerton, one in English and one in Theatre Arts with a concentration in Production and Performance and an emphasis in Directing. He is currently an Adjunct Lecturer at Brooklyn College and Graduate Fellow with a joint appointment at the Graduate Center in the Office of Career Planning and Professional Development and the Early Research Initiative. Joseph currently serves as the Officer of Curriculum and Exams for the Doctoral Theatre Students’ Association.

SISSI LIU, Ph.D. Candidate, enters the program with an M.A. Certificate in American Studies from Johns Hopkins University/Nanjing University, and an M.A. (with Honors) in English from Xiamen University, China. Her research interests include US musical theatre, digital art and performance, jazz studies, critical race theory, and Asian and Asian American theatre and performance. She has presented papers at various national and international conferences, and her works can be seen in journals such as Performance and Spirituality, Puppetry International and Slavic and Eastern European Performance. She has lectured at Baruch College and City College of New York, and has worked off and off-off Broadway as a dramaturg and a musical theatre composer. Her dissertation introduces “Wukongism,” a theoretical system that challenges the current paradigms of theorizing intercultural theatre and performance. When she is not writing her dissertation, she works on an exciting digital project about Broadway musicals. She is a trained classical pianist and composer.

SARAH LUCIE, Ph.D. Student, holds an M.A. in Performance Studies from New York University. Her research interests include the nonhuman environment and material performance, intercultural performance, and experimental and participatory theatre. Sarah is also general manager of East Coast Artists, working with Richard Schechner and Benjamin Mosse, as well as a freelance producer. She has worked as Editor for a Times Square theatre guide entitled Broadway Today, as Editor and theater critic for Show Business Magazine, and as the Assistant Editor at TDR: The Journal of Performance Studies. Other reviews appear in e-misférica, Puppetry International, and on The Huffington Post.

ASHLEY “ASH” MARINACCIO is a Ph.D. Student who holds her M.A. from the Performance Studies Program at New York University. Ash’s research interests include exploring theatre practices in war zones, applications of theatre in social justice movements, politics and performance in times of crisis, community-based theatre, intersections between anthropology and theatre, and documentary theatre. Before joining the Graduate Center’s Ph.D. program in fall, 2016, Ash was the founding Artistic Director of Girl Be Heard, where she received numerous accolades, including LPTW’s Lucille Lortel Women’s Visionary Award. As a director and playwright, her work has been seen off-Broadway, at the White House, United Nations, TED conferences across the United States, Europe and Asia. Ash is a co-founder/director of Co-Op Theatre East and member of the Civilians Field Research Team. She is on faculty at Pace University. Learn more:

NINA ANGELA MERCER is a Ph.D. Student and a playwright. Her plays include GUTTA BEAUTIFUL; RACING MY GIRL, SALLY; ITAGUA MEJI: A Road & A Prayer; GYPSY & THE BULLY DOOR; MOTHER WIT & WATER BORN; and DEEP SOUL IN THE TEMPLE. Her work has been shared at the Warehouse Theatre, The Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company for DC’s Fringe Festival, Rutgers University-Newark and New Brunswick, Wings Theatre, Brecht Forum, The Classical Theatre of Harlem, Dr. Barbara Ann Teer’s National Black Theatre, The Nuyorican Poets’ Café, Abrons Arts Center/Henry Street Settlement, and The Little Carib Theatre. Her writing has been published in The Killens Review of Arts & Letters, Black Renaissance Noire, Voices Magazine #SayHerName Edition, and CONTINUUM. She is a co-founder and co-director of Ocean Ana Rising. Nina has taught at Medgar Evers College – CUNY, Howard University, University of Maryland, College Park, and American University. Updates about productions, performances, and other musings can be found at

MARIA MYTILINAKI is a Ph.D. Candidate in Theatre Program, and a recipient of a Fulbright scholarship for doctoral study, currently working on her dissertation on the translation of Modern Greek plays during the Eurozone crisis. Other research interests include US cultural studies of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Ancient Greek tragedy, and the representation of disabilities in contemporary performance of Ancient Greek drama. In academic year 2014-2015 she will be serving as a Writing Across the Curriculum Fellow at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She has taught Theatre at Hunter College and the College of Staten Island, and Public Speaking at Baruch College. She’s a member of the Translation, Adaptation, and Dramaturgy Working Group of the International Federation of Theatre Research and has worked as a dramaturg for the New York Shakespeare Exchange and the National Theatre of Northern Greece. She received her B.A. and M.A. in Theatre from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and her M.A. in Translation Studies from the University of Warwick.

JARED R. PIKE, Ph.D. Candidate, came to the Graduate Center after receiving a B.F.A. in Acting and Directing from Sam Houston State University in Texas and an M.A. in Theatre History from Brooklyn College. Jared’s current research focuses issues of cultural power dynamics and nationalism through performance in the German states during the period of unification. Other research interests include: the role of space in performances of history and the use of digital media in the performance of history in museums. Jared also currently teaches Introduction to Theatre at Hunter College.

BESS ROWEN is a Ph.D. Candidate writing her dissertation on stage directions as fluid, collaborative physical language. She is also a Dissertation Fellow at the Graduate Center, as well as a member of the faculty at Purchase College. She graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Lehigh University before completing her M.A. in Performance Studies at NYU. She has published performance and book reviews in Theatre Journal and Women & Performance, and also presented work at ASTR, ATHE, and IFTR. Areas of interest include: stage directions, female playwrights, Irish theatrical riots, and feminist and queer theory.

PHOEBE RUMSEY holds an M.A. in Performance Studies (NYU), an M.A. in Theatre (UNLV), and a B.A. in Dance from Simon Fraser University, Canada. A dance teacher and choreographer, research interests include musical theatre, dance, and the performance of nostalgia in revivals. She is the recipient of CUNY’s Cohn-Lortel Award and the Lew Wasserman Scholarship from NYU. Her paper, “The New Choreography of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Allegro” will be published in Musical Theatre Studies in 2016. In 2015 she attended the IFTR Conference in Hyderabad, MATC in Kansas City, and ATHE in Montreal. She is an adjudicator for the British Columbia Performing Arts Festivals and teaches dance master classes throughout the province. She currently teaches at The City College of New York.

CURTIS RUSSELL (Level I) has an M.A. in Theatre Studies from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London. His research interests include musical theatre, film, contemporary Chilean theatre, British and European theatre and performance, national theatres, and pop culture. Curtis is a playwright, lyricist/librettist, dramaturg, critic, and translator. His translations of Chilean plays have been performed in London (King’s Head Theatre) and New York City (LaMicro Theater Company). His play The Zion Curtain played in University of Utah’s Studio 115; he also co-wrote the original musical Pomp and Circumstance for the U’s Musical Theatre Program. Curtis is part of Out of the Wings, a theatre translation group at King’s College, London, and has been published in Review: The Journal of Dramaturgy and Latin American Theatre Review. He studied with playwright Juan Radrigán in Chile in 2013, and is managing editor of The Journal of American Drama and Theatre.

ELYSE SINGER (Level I) comes to the Graduate Center from the M.A. in Theatre program at Hunter, where she was the Vera Mowry Roberts Fellow. She received her B.A. in American Studies from Yale. Special interests include nineteenth-century popular culture, vaudeville, burlesque, female spectacle, and early silent film. She is the Founding Artistic Director of the OBIE-winning theatre company Hourglass Group, where her directing credits include Trouble in Paradise; first revivals of Mae West’s plays SEX and Pleasure Man(starring Charles Busch); and Ruth Margraff’s Red Frogs (P.S. 122). Her original multi-media play Frequency Hopping won the International STAGE Playwriting Competition and ran at 3LD. Recent: Horseplay by Trav S.D. (La MaMa); Margaret Cavendish’s The Convent of Pleasure (with Taylor Mac); Whispering Pines 10 at Carolina Performing Arts, TBA:11, and PBS’s Art21. As producer: Beebo Brinker Chronicles (2008 GLAAD Award). Usual Suspect, NYTW, LCT Directors Lab, New Georges Audrey Fellow. Associate, SDC. Board Member, LPTW.

CORY TAMLER (Level I) holds a B.Phil. in Creative Writing and Philosophy of Science from the University of Pittsburgh and, as a 2010-2011 Fulbright Scholar, focused on post-migrant and collaborative theatre practices in Berlin. She has created and participated in research-based performance projects across the USA and internationally, and recently held a fellowship in performance archiving and documentation at the New Museum, NYC. Her translations from German and Serbo-Croatian have been published by Asymptote Journal (2014 Close Approximations contest winner), SCENA, The Offing, and mikrotext, and she contributes performance reviews to Culturebot. Cory is currently part of the artistic team for Open Waters’ In Kinship, a multi-year performance project investigating environmental stewardship in Maine’s Penobscot River Watershed. She teaches creative writing and performance with WritopiaLab, Brooklyn Acts, School of Making Thinking, Sprat Artistic Ensemble, and others. Her scholarly and creative work focuses on site-based, participatory, and civic performance projects. More at In Kinship.

image1JENNIFER THOMPSON’s (PhD candidate) research focuses on the intersection of theatre, cultural policy, and democratic state formation. She recently completed research in Santiago, Chile as a recipient of a Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship from the Social Science Research Council. She has received a New Scholar’s Prize from the International Federation of Theatre Research and was selected for the Theatre History Working Group’s Debut panel at ATHE in 2015. She has served as associate managing editor of the journal European Stages and has taught at Brooklyn College, City College, and Marymount Manhattan College. In addition to her academic work, she is a playwright and actor. Her most recent play, Turning Texas Blue was a finalist for the 2015 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, and she has performed on and off Broadway, regionally and on television. She holds an M.F.A. in Acting from NYU and a B.A. in History and Theatre Studies from Yale University.

PAMELA THIELMAN, Ph.D. Candidate, researches the history of scenography, with particular emphasis on the baroque period in Europe and in England. Her work is concerned with the circulation of scenic designers around Europe during this period and proposes scenography as a site for the investigation of cultural exchange. Other areas of interest include contemporary dramaturgy and integrating digital technology into pedagogy. She has taught Introduction to Theatre at Baruch College and is a Writing Across the Curriculum Fellow at New York City College of Technology. She holds B.F.A. in Drama from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and an M.F.A. in Dramaturgy from Columbia University School of the Arts. Before her academic career she worked as an actor, an acting teacher, a director, and an arts administrator. She continues to work as a freelance dramaturg.

CLIO UNGER (Level I) came to the Graduate Center with an M.A. in dramaturgy from the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich. She wrote her M.A. thesis on the experience of intimacy in contemporary performance. This has kindled her interest in intermediality scholarship and the sociology of culture and technology. Clio has been awarded IFTR’s New Scholars Prize in 2015, and her essay “’SHOOT HIM NOW!!!’ anonymity, accountability and online spectatorship in Wafaa Bilal’s Domestic Tension” is forthcoming in the International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media. Clio has taught courses in performance and drama analysis at Ludwig-Maximilian’s University, and worked as a dramaturg on various productions in Munich

MARA VALDERRAMA is a level II student in the Theatre program at The Graduate Center. She works as an instructor in the Communication Department at Baruch College in New York and she is the regional managing editor for Spain at The Theatre Times. Her interests include feminism and gender, Spanish contemporary theatre and migration and refugee theatre. After earning her B.A. in Spanish Language and Literature at the Complutense University in Madrid, she completed two M.A. degrees in Theatre and Performance Arts and in Comparative Literature. In addition to her current ventures as a scholar, she has wide experience as a performer. Valderrama graduated from the Music Conservatory of Ferraz in Madrid, and has been a Language and Literature teacher in public high schools in Spain and the US.

ALISON WALLS (Level II) is an actor and director from Wellington, New Zealand with an M.F.A. in theatre from Sarah Lawrence College. She is in her third year of the program and is interested in theatrical types in popular culture. She has previously published on consumerism and the nineteenth century French novel, French language in Henry V, and the gothic in Showboat. She currently serves as the second VP for the DTSA. After theatre, few things make her happier than a swim at the beach and a glass of wine.

MELISSA WANSIN WONG is a Ph.D. Candidate, former Enhanced Chancellor’s Fellow and is currently completing her dissertation, “The performance of human rights in neoliberal Asia: Negotiating subjectivity at the intersections of civic, artistic, and political engagements in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore.” She was in the emerging scholars panels of both the Association of Asian Performance and Performance Studies Focus Group at the Association of Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE). Melissa was on the board of Performance Studies International (PSi) as chair of the graduate students committee (2008-12) and served as the Focus Group Representative of the Performance Studies Focus Group at ATHE (2014-16). Published works include reviews in Theatre Journal and Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism. Peer-reviewed works include an award-winning article in Asian Theatre Journal and a Palgrave book chapter on queer performances in Singapore. She teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Baruch College. Before arriving in NYC to pursue her M.A. in Performance Studies at NYU, Melissa was a performer, teacher, and arts worker in Singapore.

KALLE WESTERLING, Ph.D. Candidate, is currently working on his dissertation concerning male-identified bodies in 20th century burlesque and boylesque. He also directs the Scholars project for the The Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC) as a Research Fellow with the Futures Initiative. When he’s not busy with those major projects, he adjuncts at Baruch College. Kalle is also on the Board of Directors for The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies. You can read more about his dissertation project on the website

RAYYA EL ZEIN, Ph.D. Candidate. I am writing my dissertation about affective politics in live performances of Arabic rap over the past decade. The study explores theories of affect as a way to interrogate the experiences of attending rap concerts in different Arab cities as they undergo processes of neoliberalization. Pieces of this research are forthcoming in Arab Subcultures: Transformations in Theory and Practice, edited by Tarik Sabry and Layal Ftouni (IB Tauris) and Shifting Borders: American Studies between the American Century and the Arab Spring, edited by Marwan Kraidy and Alex Lubin (Duke UP). Reviews of mine have appeared in Theatre Survey, Ethnomusicology Forum, and on the e-zine Jadaliyya. In NYC I taught Theatre History and Acting at City College in Harlem and Writing at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. I will be spending the 2014-2015 year conducting field research in Palestine and Jordan.