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News & Press: Member News

Happy New Year from the President

Friday, January 1, 2016  
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Happy New Year! For the Chinese zodiac, 2016 is the year of Monkey, which is associated with wit, vitality, and humor. Monkey is also thought to be good at imitation and a bit rebellious--a perfect animal that symbolizes theatre!

2015 was a tumultuous year. International refugee issues and domestic racial tension have become crises we can no longer ignore. We need more justice, understanding, and compassion. As theatre researchers, intellectuals and educators, what can we do? What should we do?

This is my vision: I believe understanding is the first step we need to take in order to seek justice and balance the powers. Before we educate our students, we need to educate ourselves about the diversity of humankind. As the president of ASTR, I advocate more diversity both in our membership and in research fields, and I believe the organization should provide more opportunities for underrepresented groups.

During the holidays, the Executive Committees worked hard to approve a special kind of working sessions--ASTR’s José Esteban Muñoz Targeted Research Working Sessions. These are competitive, funded, three-year working sessions in order to support, promote, and feature the production of research by and about people of color at ASTR, and with the intention to foster and forward intersectional work that also attends to and includes LGBTQ communities, disability communities, and scholars without regularized institutional support. I encourage you to consider applying for this special working session. For more details, please see

The Executive Committee also approved two new committees: the Membership committee and the Empowerment committee. The Membership committee will attend to members' needs and research as well as issues associated with climate within the society. The Empowerment committee will address topics related to power imbalance in academia and in society, and identify strategies of combating such imbalance.

I am also working on building more connections with institutions overseas and on expanding the graduate student base. I welcome your suggestions and assistance.

Finally, I want to express my deep appreciation for your belief in me by allowing me to lead ASTR for the next three years. I am excited about my journey and will do my best to move the society forward as we celebrate our 60th anniversary next year.

Happy New Year! Stay healthy and witty, and don't forget to fight for justice with a sense of humor!

Daphne Lei
Professor, Department of Drama, University of California, Irvine
President, American Society for Theatre Research

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