Jess Applebaum is a dramaturg-scholar whose practice is rooted in contemporary performance and social action.

As a dramaturg Jess works collaboratively with performance makers, academics, and activists to develop and facilitate creative processes. Her dramaturgical practice pays particular attention to lifting the cultural and political context of each project: identifying how content, generated in transdisciplinary environments, develops to serve both its creators and its audience in shared, live events. To further this work, Jess co-founded [[ edge effect ]] Media Group: a think-and-do tank that designs hybrid performances across media, for the public good.

A PhD candidate in CUNY’s Theater and Performance Program, Jess’s scholarship focuses on the labor of dramaturgy: pushing the perceived boundaries of how research is performed and applied in both creative and academic work. She believes that bodies perform knowledge, process activates power, and that, together, both can inspire new pedagogical and civic practices. Currently, Jess is a PublicsLab Fellow working with the Graduate Center’s Deputy Director and James Gallery Curator, Katherine Carl.

With over twenty years of professional experience in both the dance and theatre worlds, Jess has assisted Margaret Selby, Selby/Artists Management, and their singular roster of dance companies. She has dramaturged for choreographer Jody Oberfelder, directors Ashley Tata, Anna Brenner, Marina McClure, and Simón Hanukai and performance designer Nic Benacerraf. Jess is the Literary Manager for One Year Lease Theater Company and collaborates with Kyoung’s Pacific Beat on its community-engagement series. She is a member of Beehive Dramaturgy and LMDA.


Research Interests

  • New and Dance Dramaturgies
  • Performing Knowledge/PaR
  • Public Scholarship
  • Social Practice
  • Avant-Garde Performances