Philadelphia Theatre Research Symposium

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The goal of the Philadelphia Theatre Research Symposium is to provide a forum for theatre scholars and practitioners to share their research and enter into a dialogue about current trends in theatrical practice and scholarship. For more information, please contact Dr. David Cregan, O.S.A.

Join us on April 29, 2015 for the ninth annual Philadelphia Theatre Research Symposium as we welcome award-winning playwright Sarah Ruhl as our keynote speaker. This year’s conference will highlight the work of new scholars exploring the ways in which playwrights reveal the otherwise hidden histories that are often not included in dominant historical chronicles.

The Philadelphia Theatre Research Symposium is free and open to the public. The conference will take place from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Wednesday, April 29, 2015 in Bartley Hall: Room 1011 followed by an evening of performances at 8:00 pm in Vasey Theatre.

The 2015 Philadelphia Theatre Research Symposium

Conference Theme: Rewriting Histories: Rewriting the Past and the Plays of Sarah Ruhl

Keynote Speaker: Sarah Ruhl, playwright

When: Conference: Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 12:00pm-6:00pm in Bartley Hall: Room 1011, followed by Evening of Performances at 8:00 in Vasey Theatre

Villanova University
800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085
Map and Directions


Subject to change

11:00 am - 12:00pm      Registration

12:00 - 1:30pm              Emerging Scholars Panel 

  • Heidi Breeden - Reimagining History: Guy Butler’s Interrogation of Two Colonial Ideologies in Demea
  • Christen Mandracchia - A Beauty But a Funny Girl: A Queer Investigation of the “Broadwayfication of Disney”
  • Meghan Winch - “Ya beautiful, beautiful child, I could ate ya”: Maternity, Love, and Viciousness in Juno and the Paycock, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, and By the Bog of Cats 

1:30 – 2:00pm               Break

2:00 – 3:30pm               Rewriting Histories Panel

  • Laura Oseland - Madness, Desired Violence, and Sexual Obsession: Queer Femininit(ies) in the Plays of Cherrie Moraga and Sarah Ruhl
  • Ivan Rodden, Ph.D. - "Jean and Johnna sit at the kid's table": The Palliative Metaphor of the Noble Savage in Tracy Lett's August: Osage County
  • Jonathan Shandell, Ph.D. - “The American Negro Theatre and the Long Civil Rights Movement: A Book in Progress”

3:30 - 4:00pm                Break  

4:00 - 5:00pm                Keynote Address: Sarah Ruhl, Playwright

5:00 – 6:00pm               Reception

6:00 - 8:00pm                Dinner Break

8:00pm                          Evening of Performances

  •   Or What You Will - Written and performed by Alix Rosenfeld
  A one-woman adaptation of Twelfth Night with text pulled from Shakespeare's canon (plays, poems, and sonnets included) and woven together with some original text to create new monologues exploring women's societal roles as well as their roles within Shakespeare's canon.
  • The Death of Thomas Edison - Written by Lee Smith, Directed by Katherine Hammond
The Warehouse of Theatre in collaboration with ODU Rep presents a haunting tale of love, jealousy, and the inexplicable human desire to create.  Taking on history, Edison lyrically explores a shattered man whose philosophical leanings crash headlong against sophomoric humor. 
Image Courtesy of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Image Courtesy of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Sarah Ruhl (Playwright)

Sarah Ruhl’s plays include The Oldest Boy, In the Next Room, or the vibrator play; The Clean House, Passion Play, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Melancholy Play; Eurydice; Orlando, Late: a cowboy song, Dear Elizabeth  and Stage Kiss.  

She has been a two-time Pulitzer prize finalist and a Tony award nominee. Her plays have been produced on Broadway at the Lyceum by Lincoln Center Theater, off-Broadway at Playwrights’ Horizons, Second Stage, and at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi Newhouse Theater. Her plays have been produced regionally all over the country, often with premiers at Yale Repertory Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theater, the Goodman Theater, and the Piven Theatre Workshop in Chicago. In 2014 she was the second most produced playwright in the country. Her plays have also been produced internationally and have been translated into over twelve languages. Originally from Chicago, Ms. Ruhl received her M.F.A. from Brown University where she studied with Paula Vogel. She has received the Susan Smith Blackburn award, the Whiting award, the Lily Award, a PEN award for mid-career playwrights, and the MacArthur "genius" award.

You can read more about her work on Her book of essays 100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write was published by Faber and Faber last fall. She teaches at the Yale School of Drama, and she lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Department of Theatre and Studio Art
800 E. Lancaster Ave.
St. Augustine Center Room 205
Villanova, PA 19085

Past Conferences

Three Days of Rain

2013-2014 Conference Theme: Woman in Theatre: Celebrating women's contributions to American theatre as artists, scholars, and leaders Keynote Speaker: Emily Mann, Playwright, Director, and Artistic Director of McCarter Theatre

2012-2013      Conference Theme: Ethnicity, Identity, and Hybridity; The work of the Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, Asian and Asian-American Playwrights       Keynote Speaker: Tisa Chang, Producing Artistic Director of the Pan Asian Repertory Theater

Conference Theme: The Work of Elizabeth LeCompte, The Wooster Group, The Avant Garde, Textual Intervention, and Experimental Theatre Collectives
Keynote Speaker: Elizabeth LeCompte

Conference Theme: The Work of Anna Deavere Smith,Critical Cultural Performance, Performance Ethnography and Autoethnography
Keynote Speaker: Anna Deavere Smith

Conference Theme: The Limits of Performance
Keynote Speaker: Richard Schechner

Conference Theme: Production Concept and Performance Analysis
Keynote Speaker: Blanka Zizka, Artistic Director, Wilma Theatre

Conference Theme: Media Criticism and Theatre Practice
Keynote Speaker: Toby Zinman, Theatre Critic, Philadelphia Inquirer

Conference Theme: Theories of Performance and Practice
Keynote Speaker: Dina Amin, Ph.D., Modern Languages/Theatre at Villanova University