Performance Studies

The U of A makes valuable contributions to critical theory, theatre history and interdisciplinary investigation with three performance studies specialists on faculty: Dr. Piet Defraye, Dr. Stefano Muneroni and Dr. Donia Mounsef. Additionally, while production dramaturgy is still in a developing stage in North America, this faculty is engaged in its practice and further development.

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Dr. Selena CoutureDr. Selena COUTURE

Research focuses on decolonizing methodologies in theatre and performance; performance and historiographic methods; critical archival studies; Indigenous performance and grounded practices; colonial performance and the construction of whiteness.

Her research has been published in Theatre Journal, Canadian Theatre Review, Performance Research, and Book publications include, her monograph, Against the Current and Into the Light: Performing History and Land in Coast Salish Territories and Vancouver's Stanley Park (McGill-Queen's University Press, Native and Norther series, fall 2019), and collaborative projects: On this Patch of Grass: City Parks and Occupied Lands (Fernwood 2018) and Richard Brinsley Sheridan's Pizarro (Broadview Press, 2017).

She is a co-director of the Ecologies research cluster with Hemispheric Encounters: Developing Transborder Research-Creation Practices (2020-2027) and a Kule scholar cohort member focusing on Climate Resilience in the 21st Century. Her research responds to the crisis of global warming, aiming to create responsible relations with Indigenous peoples, lands, waters and all other-than-human beings.

She was an alternative school teacher in Vancouver for many years before studying for her doctorate in theatre at UBC. She also sits on the boards of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival and  Solid State Community Industries

Primary Teaching Areas: Theoretical Approaches to Theatre and Performance; Canadian Theatre; Canadian Indigenous Performance; Modern Theatre and Empire; Theatre and Performance Historiography; Performance Studies Research Methodologies and Decolonization; Performative Refusal and Resource Extraction.

Dr. Piet DefraeyeDr. Piet DEFRAEYE

Research focuses on Reception Theories and Theatre of Provocation. Dr. Piet Defraeye's research deals mainly with the application of performance theory to contemporary theatre practice, and to the examination of social spheres. The key theme is Shock and Provocation in the Theatre. The work is largely comparative in nature and uses performance studies, especially audience reception to examine Theatre of Provocation. His two lengthy publications on playwright Peter Handke are a prime example of his approach to play analysis as is the in-depth treatment of the controversy around the Benton play The Romans in Britain. His two articles on Atilla Richard Lukacs are in the tradition of Performance Studies and are critical reflections on a specific practice of painting, seen as a performative cultural practice.

Primary Teaching Areas: Dramatic Theory, Introduction to Theatre Arts, Play Analysis. Graduate Seminars in Production Dramaturgy, Audience Reception Theory, Brecht, Research Tools. Graduate Supervision. 

Dr. Donia Mounsef


Research focuses on modern and contemporary French and Francophone theatre, politics, gender and performance, theories of the body, intermediality and adaption theory. Dr. Donia Mounsef's research focuses on the fascination contemporary culture has with the subjection of the body to spectacular forms of coercion. Her book "Spectacles of Violence: Coercive Desire in Contemporary Culture" challenges both the carnavalesque view on the violence spectacle and Foucault's claim that we have entered 'the age of sobriety in punishment'. Mounsef's other area of research focuses on intermediality in performance or the integration of media and technology into theatre. In addition, Mounsef continues to be interested in research that is applied to teaching particularly in the area of contemporary Francophone poetry and its performative dimension through slam and spoken word.

Primary Teaching Areas (Cross Appointment with Campus Saint Jean): Introduction to Dramatic Arts, Play Analysis, Critical Theory, Playwriting, Media and Performance. Graduate Seminars in Contemporary French and Francophone Theatre, Gender, Desire and the Modern Stage, Theatre of War, Intermediality, Graduate Supervision.

Dr. Stefano MuneroniDr. Stefano MUNERONI

Research is grounded in post-colonial theory and includes the study of both intercultural and border theatre. Looks specifically at how socio-economic factors affect cultural and artistic conditions, and how such conditions are negotiated in new plays. Dr. Stefano Muneroni links his scholarly research and creative activity research. His work as a dramaturge and translator reflect his scholarly commitment to the study and practice of Intercultural Theatre. He strives to blend the theory and history of drama with the practice of the theatrical medium. Dr. Muneroni has published many peer reviewed articles and textbook. He has an international profile with conference presentations in Canada, Colombia, Australia. USA, Italy, Spain and Greece. He has done dramaturgical work for both professional and university based theatre productions and some of his theatrical translations/adaptations have been produced.

Primary Teaching Areas: Play Analysis, Modernist Stage, Performance Theory. Graduate Seminars in Border Theatre, Intercultural Theatre, Post-Colonial Theory, Research Tools. Graduate Supervision.

Jean O'HaraDr. Jean O'HARA

A theatre director with research and practice areas in multicultural theatre, devised theatre, social justice theatre, gender performance, Two-Spirit/Indigenous theatre and queer theatre/performance.

Primary Teaching Areas: directing, acting, performer creator theatre, physical theatre, performance studies, critical theory of the intersection of race, gender, sexuality (dis)abilities, and class in performance and theatre literature.

U of A Drama offers a wide scope of approaches to new play development. Several faculty members (Kim McCaw, Jan Selman, David Barnet, Dr. Piet Defraeye, Beau Coleman, Lin Snelling and Jane Heather) contribute to Canada's new play development via work with individual playwrights and organizations which workshop and produce new plays.

Kim McCaw's multiple contributions to new plays are nationally recognized. He was the recipient of Canada's National Play Development Award in 1993.

Kathleen Weiss's current creative activity focuses on iconographic dramaturgy, a creative process well-suited to the increasing interest in image-driven theatrical events.

Through faculty expertise, the department's annual New Works Festival, several graduate course offerings (DR 607, DR 681) and student work placements, the Department of Drama is uniquely positioned to further specialize and develop new play dramaturgy.