This website uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some of these cookies are used for visitor analysis, others are essential to making our site function properly and improve the user experience. By using this site, you consent to the placement of these cookies. Click Accept to consent and dismiss this message or Deny to leave this website. Read our Privacy Statement for more.
Join | Contact Us | Print Page | Sign In
2015 Award Recipients
Share |

Congratulations to Our 2015 Award Recipients!

2015 ASTR Award Recipients

ATAP Initiation Grant

The American Theatre Archive Project (ATAP) is an ASTR initiative that supports theatre makers in archiving records of their work for the benefit of artists, scholars, patrons, and the public. Last year was the inaugural year of the initiative, and we are pleased to see the program continue. This year’s recipient is Artists Repertory Theatre, here in Portland, under the leadership of Managing Director Sarah Horton.


Artists Repertory Theatre

Co-Sponsored Event Grant

The Co-Sponsored Event grant exists to:

  • Fulfill ASTR's purpose through collaboration with other organizations and institutions;
  • Foster closer relationships with cognate organizations and/or projects; and
  • Increase the visibility of the work of both ASTR and the award recipient within a wider professional context. I’m pleased to announce that this year’s co-sponsored event funding goes to Michelle Granshaw at the University of Pittsburgh, for Spectacles of Labor: Performance and the Working Class.


Michelle Granshaw, University of Pittsburgh
"Spectacles of Labor: Performance and the Working Class"

Thomas Marshall and David Keller Travel Awards

The purpose of the Thomas Marshall Graduate Student Awards is to encourage students to become active members of the Society by helping them to meet the expenses of attending the ASTR annual meeting.

Thomas Marshall Student Award Recipients

Yasmine Jahanmir, UC Santa Barbara
“Bathing Beauties: Gender, Nationalism, and Parody in Theatrical and Competitive Synchronized Swimming”

Ioana Jucan, Brown University
“(Re)Action in the Anthropocene: With Concern to Plastic”

Tiffany Trent, Arizona State University
“Parables in Practice: Congregational Gardens and Farmers’ Markets as Utopic Visioning and Festival Sites”

The purpose of the David Keller Travel Awards is to encourage untenured scholars with terminal degrees to become active members of the Society by helping them to meet the expenses of attending the ASTR annual meeting. ASTR’s future depends on the organization bringing critical voices to this conference, who might otherwise not be able to attend due to a lack of institutional support.

David Keller Travel Award Recipients

Arnab Banerji, Loyola Marymount University
“Setting the Stage: A Materialist Semiotic Analysis of Contemporary Bengali Group Theatre from Kolkata, India”

Lisa Woynarski, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
“Towards an Ecological Performance Aesthetic for the Bio-Urban: A Non-Anthropocentric Theory”

Josy Miller, UC Davis
“Ivory Tower/Black Box: Practice-as-Research in Contemporary Shakespeare Studies”

Grant for Teachers with Heavy Working Loads

Not only do applicants maintain rigorous research agendas but they also teach an average of 24-30 credit course load annually, mostly to traditionally underserved student communities. This year we received seven very strong applications, all of them worthy of accommodation. Supporting her book project on Robert Lopez/The Mexican Elvis, the 2015 Grants for Teachers with Heavy Teaching Loads goes to Dr. Karen Jean Martinson of the Chicago State University.


Dr. Karen Jean Martinson, Chicago Stage University
"Making the Dream Real"

Helen Krich Chinoy Dissertation Fellowship

The Helen Krich Chinoy Dissertation Fellowships are intended to assist Ph.D. candidates with the expenses of travel to national and international collections to conduct research projects connected with their dissertations. These awards are available to Ph.D. candidates who have passed their qualifying exams within the last two years (or will have passed their qualifying exams by June of the current year) and have begun working on their dissertations. The project must be part of the dissertation research. I would like to thank all the applicants and their incredible projects and the entire committee for their efforts.


Gwyneth Shanks, UCLA
“Performance and the Museum: Material Remains”

Susan Finque, University of Washington
“The Callao Contract of 1599: Evidence for a Transformative Genealogy of American Theatre from Lima, Peru”

Haddy Kreie, University of California at Santa Barbara
“Slavery and the Emergence of Vodun: Race, Trauma, Protection, and Agency in Spiritual Systems of Southern Benin”

The ASTR Collaborative Research Awards

The purpose of the Collaborative Research Award is to foster collaborative research across different academic and artistic contexts, and/or different national contexts. The committee, Eng-Beng Lim, Karen Jean Martinson, and myself, are delighted to announce the winners of this year’s award. This year, we were delighted to have had the most applicants we’ve had in years. Because of the impressive applications, the award was split between two projects:


Jimmy Noriega, The College of Wooster
Carlos Chavarria, Contra Costa College
"Jotoholic (Confessions of a Mexican Outcast): Queer Latina/o Performance as Research"

This project involves the production of Chavarria’s play Jotoholic, written and performed by Chavarria, and directed by Noriega, at Noriega’s school. Following the collaboration, the pair plan to write about their research and process in journal article. The committee was excited about supporting a project that integrates both theory and artistic practice, and one that unites two scholars at very different institutions. We were particularly impressed by the way this project will benefit not only these scholars, but their students and campus communities.

Shane Boyle, Queen Mary University, London
Brandon Woolf, Free University Berlin
"The Hidden Abode of Counter Logistics"

We were impressed by Boyle and Woolf’s practice based research project that results in the pair’s performance lecture that will be researched, workshopped, and staged in places including London, the Port of Felixstowe, Berlin, and New York. We were excited that this project is part of the emerging field of performance philosophy, and has an international scope well-suited to the grant.

Cambridge University Press


Naomi Bragin, University of Washington Bothell
"Funky Robots on the Soul Train Line: Black Power Technology and Anti-Human Movements"

Naomi is the recipient of the Cambridge University Press Prize for the best paper by a first-time plenary presenter at the 2014 ASTR Conference. Ms. Bragin’s paper "Funky Robots on the Soul Train Line: Black Power Technology and Anti-Human Movements,” offered a bold and original take on the “post-human” and the “anti-human” through a careful, well researched, and beautifully written analysis of the "robot" and other early hip hop dance styles.

Honorable Mention

Pannill Camp, Washington University in St. Louis
"Arts of Brotherhood: French Masonic Ritual and Sentimental Dramaturgy in Eighteenth-Century France"

Research Fellowship/Targeted Research/McNamara Subvention Awards

The Committee was charged with determining three ASTR awards. The excellence of the applications and diversity of subject matter made determining the recipients of these awards both engaging and challenging.

Research Fellowship Recipients

Julia Walker, Washington University in St. Louis
"Civil Rights: Performing Social Theory on the Modern Stage"

The Research Fellowship will help support Julia’s archival research for a provisional reconstruction of the eurhythmic techniques and musical score of W.E.B. Dubois’s Star of Ethiopia pageant in which thousands of citizens performed on 4 different occasions between 1913 and 1925.

E.J. Westlake, University of Michigan
"La Conquistadora and Zozobra: Cultural Icons in Conflict"

The Research Fellowship will help support E.J.s archival research for her study of the different bounded spaces occupied by the procession of La Conquistadora and the Burning of the Zozobra at the Fiestas de Santa Fe.

Targeted Research Recipients

Jennifer Goodlander, Indiana University
"Puppet Performance in Cambodia's Cities: Reconfiguring Tradition After the Khmer Rouge"

The Targeted Research award will help support Jennifer’s field research into how puppetry complements and challenges urban spaces to articulate present and future cultural and national identities.

Eric Mayer-Garcia, Louisiana State University
"Documenting the Photographic Archive of Tablas-Alarcos as a Resource of Cuban Theatre History"

The Targeted Research award will support Eric’s study of the contents of the archive of Tablas- Alarcos press, focusing on records of Cuba’s experimental theatre history. Eric’s aims include contributing to our understanding of Havana’s experimental theatre and demonstrating the importance of alternative theatre archives in writing theatre history.

Brooks McNamara Publishing Subvention Recipient

Jessica Berson
The Naked Result: How Exotic Dance Became Big Business (Oxford University Press)

Jessica Berson
Jessica Berson, winner of the 2015 Brooks McNamara Publishing Subvention, with Carol Martin.

The Brooks McNamara Publishing Subvention will help Jessica with the fees for photographic reproductions for her forthcoming book, The Naked Result, an interdisciplinary study of the contemporary corporate takeover of striptease dancing in the US and the UK in relation to class, race, and eroticism. Forthcoming by Oxford University Press, December 2015.

Selma Jeanne Cohen Award

This award provides a scholar to participate in a plenary or working session at the ASTR conference. This presentation must, in the spirit of Selma Jeanne Cohen, explore the intersections of theatre and dance/movement. The purpose of the award is to encourage scholars in dance and movement-based fields to become active members of ASTR by helping them to meet the travel and hotel expenses of attending and presenting at the ASTR annual meeting.


Shamell Bell, UCLA
“Living is Resisting: Street Dance Activism in the Black Lives Matter Movement”

Shamell Bell
Shamell Bell, winner of the 2015 Selma Jean Cohen Award, with Clare Croft.

Shamell Bell was awarded this year’s Selma Jeanne Cohen Presentation Award for her paper, “Living is Resisting: Street Dance Activism in the Black Lives Matter Movement.” Bell’s paper, which was chosen for a curated panel, addresses dance as political action from her perspectives as a dance and performance scholar, a dancer, and an active member of the Black Lives Matter movement. The committee was impressed by Bell’s call, in her words, “to create dialogue between the street dance community, theatre, and the academic world” — a call that surely has much to do with this year’s conference theme. In addition to presenting exciting political work at this year’s conference, Bell, currently a graduate student in the World Arts & Cultures program at UCLA, serves ASTR in a number of ways, on graduate student committees and beyond.

Gerald Kahan Award

The American Society for Theatre Research offers an annual award for the best essay written and published in English in a refereed scholarly journal. The essay can be on any subject in theater research, broadly construed. The Kahan Prize includes an acknowledgement of the editor’s contribution to scholarship.


Naomi Bragin
“Shot and Captured: Turf Dance, YAK Films, and the Oakland, California, R.I.P. Project”

Naomi Bragin
Naomi Bragin, winner of the 2015 Gerald Kahan Prize, with Diana Looser and Mariellen R. Sandford, Associate Editor of TDR.

The Gerald Kahan Scholar’s Prize is awarded for the best essay written and published in English in a refereed scholarly journal. The essay can be on any subject in theater research, broadly construed, and must be authored by an untenured scholar enrolled in a PhD progsam or within seven years of the doctorate. Naomi Bragin received this award for her essay,“Shot and Captured: Turf Dance, YAK Films, and the Oakland, California, R.I.P. Project,” published in TDR and edited by Richard Schechner. The committee was very impressed by the theoretical rigor, nuanced analysis, and political urgency of the piece, especially Bragin’s innovative approach to theorizing performance and everyday life that has immediate social, scholarly, and artistic relevance, and far-reaching potential for influencing future work in the field.

One of the great aspects of the Kahan award is that it also acknowledges the editor’s contribution to scholarship. Mariellen Sandford, Associate Editor of TDR, was recognized for the journal’s important role in helping develop the work of junior scholars.

Oscar Brockett Award

The Oscar G. Brockett Essay Prize is jointly awarded by the American Society for Theatre Research and the Oscar G. Brockett Center for Theatre History and Criticism at the University of Texas-Austin. The prize recognizes the best essay written and published in English in a refereed scholarly journal or volume published by a scholarly press and relating to any subject in theatre research, broadly construed.


Ellen MacKay, Graduate Center of the City University of New York
“Acting Historical with Shakespeare, or, William-Henry Ireland’s Oaken Chest

Ellen McKay
Ellen McKay, winner of the 2015 Oscar Brockett Prize, with Brandi Wilkins-Catanese.

The Oscar G. Brockett Essay Prize is jointly awarded by the American Society for Theatre Research and the Oscar G. Brockett Center for Theatre History and Criticism at the University of Texas-Austin for the best essay by a more established scholar written and published in English in a refereed scholarly journal or volume published by a scholarly press and relating to any subject in theatre research, broadly construed.

This year, the committee is pleased to offer Honorable Mention to Marah Gubar of MIT for the essay 'Entertaining Children of all Ages: Nineteenth-Century Popular Theater as Children's Theater', published in American Quarterly, which is commended by the committee for the depth and breadth of its research in addressing the article’s topic. Significant scholarly insights are achieved as the article enhances and advances pre-existing knowledge about how the popular repertoire of the nineteenth-century stage has the capacity to illuminate ideologies and constructions of childhood.

The editor of American Quarterly, Sarah Banet-Weiser, was also recognized.

Ellen MacKay is this year’s winner of the Oscar Brockett Prize, for the essay 'Acting Historical with Shakespeare, or William-Henry Ireland's Oaken Chest', published in Shakespeare Survey, which impressed the committee as a highly persuasive and original contribution to Shakespearean studies. As the article acknowledges the scholarly difficulties of addressing the ‘unpreserved past’ and ‘dramaturgy of impossible recovery’, it touches on matters that have application and ramification for our disciplinary approaches to the archival, well beyond the specific subject in hand. Shakespeare’s absence and the ‘persistent difficulty of letting loss be loss’ propel a discussion that is meticulously researched, rigorous in approach and eloquently written.

The editor of Shakespeare Survey, Peter Holland, was also recognized.

Honorable Mention

Marah Gubar, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"Entertaining Children of All Ages: Nineteenth-Century Popular Theater as Children’s Theater"

Errol Hill Award

The Errol Hill Award is given in recognition of outstanding scholarship in African American theater, drama, and/or performance studies, as demonstrated in the form of a published book-length project (monograph or essay collection) or scholarly article. The book or article must have been published during the previous calendar year (2015 for the 2016 award), and deal with African American theater history, dramatic literature, or performance studies (research on dance, acting and directing, public performances, i.e., parades, pageants, etc.).


Paige McGinley, Washington University in St. Louis
Staging the Blues: From Tent Shows to Tourism(Duke University Press, 2014)

Honorable Mention

Faedra Chatard Carpenter
Coloring Whiteness: Acts of Critique in Black Performance (University of Michigan Press, 2014)

Faedra Chatard Carpenter
Faedra Chatard Carpenter, winner of the 2015 Errol Hill Award, with Patricia Herrera.

Barnard Hewitt Award

The Barnard Hewitt Award for Outstanding Research in Theatre History is awarded annually to the best book in "theatre history or cognate disciplines” published during the previous calendar year. This year was exceptionally competitive in both quantity and quality: we received 51 eligible nominations, an increase of more than 100% over some previous years, and the pool included many superb books. Thank you to the authors for their scholarship, the nominators and publishers for supporting that scholarship, and the members of the Hewitt Committee, William Condee, Valleri Robinson, and Shannon Steen, for their insightful reading and vigorous conversation.


Elizabeth Maddock Dillon, Northeastern University
New World Drama: The Performative Commons in the Atlantic World, 1649-1849 (Duke University Press, 2014)

New World Drama does nothing less than reveal theatre and performance as the center, the engine, of the mass transition, across the Western world, toward popular sovereignty and modernity. What is at stake in this book is the history and therefore the nature of the public sphere. Dillon argues that during the long eighteenth century, theatre functioned as what she calls a “performative commons” in which people of diverse races, genders, and classes debated politics and modes of governance. Thus Dillon shifts the center of the public sphere from print to print-and-performance, from European cities to the Atlantic colonial world, and from white literate men to a spectrum of literate and non-literate women and men including indigenous peoples, diasporic Africans in Europe, North America, and the Caribbean, and diasporic Europeans. New World Drama is a work of magisterial scope, masterful research, and far-reaching interventions. One committee member said that New World Drama "took my breath away"; another called it "astonishing." It is a scholarly achievement of the very highest order.

Honorable Mentions

Gay Gibson Cima, Georgetown University
Performing Anti-Slavery: Activist Women on Antebellum Stages (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

Gay Gibson Cima
Gay Gibson Cima, Honorable mention for 2015 Bernard Hewitt Award, with Robin Bernstein.

In Performing Anti-Slavery, Cima argues that African American and white women in the nineteenth-century abolitionist movement transformed everyday practices into performance-based activism. Cima shows us how women mobilized everyday acts such as reading or singing, in conjunction with public speeches and debates, to activist ends. By analyzing the everyday acts and on-stage performances of black and white women, Cima challenges assumptions about abolitionism, particularly Garrisonian politics. Performing Anti-Slavery is extraordinary in scope and sweep; as one committee member put it, "reading this book is like spending time inside the mind of a brilliantly erudite scholar who is eager to share the wealth of her knowledge." It is a book of tremendous importance.

Paige McGinley, Washington University in St. Louis
Staging the Blues: From Tent Shows to Tourism (Duke University Press, 2014)

Elizabeth Maddock Dillon
Elizabeth Maddock Dillon, Winner of the 2015 Bernard Hewitt Award, with Robin Bernstein.

Staging the Blues fundamentally reframes the blues through the lens of theatricality, analyzing not only sound and bodily performance but also sets, costumes, and venues. McGinley shows how blues performers such as Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Lead Belly, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and others deployed theatrical conventions to stage black mobility, to challenge narratives of racial authenticity, and to fight for racial and economic justice. This bold, beautifully written book produces abundant new knowledge about the blues, and simultaneously forges new ways to think about music in any genre. It is a model that is sure to generate a new wave of scholarship about music and theatricality. One committee member said, “I enjoyed it from beginning to end”; another called it “a gift to the field.”

Distinguished Scholar Award

The Distinguished Scholar Award is given each year to a scholar whose body of work has made a significant contribution to the field of theatre, dance, opera, and/or performance studies. The three immediately previous Distinguished Scholar Award winners will consider the candidates and select the recipient.

⟶ Click here to read David Mayer's opening remarks.

⟶ Click here to read David Savran's winner announcement.

Gay Gibson Cima and David Savran
Gay Gibson Cima with previous Distinguished Scholar Award Winner David Savran.


Gay Gibson Cima, Georgetown University

⟶ Click here to read Gay Gibson Cima's acceptance speech.

Gay Gibson Cima
Distinguished Scholar Award Winner Gay Gibson Cima accepts her award.
© 2020  American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR). All Rights Reserved.

Home | Member Login | Privacy Policy | Site Map | Contact Us
P.O. Box 922 | Santa Cruz, CA 95061
Phone: +1 628-222-4088 | Email: