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Theatre History

There’s so much to be learned from history, and theatre is no exception. If you’re looking to dive into theatre’s past, the Theatre History Podcast is the perfect place to start.

The Latest

Nubian Theatre
Podcast
Nubian Theatre
by Marina Johnson, Nabra Nelson, Mazen Alaa
9 July 2024
Ibn Daniyal and Puppetry 
Podcast
Ibn Daniyal and Puppetry 
by Marina Johnson, Nabra Nelson, Sarah Fahmy
2 July 2024
Ottoman Theatre
Podcast
Ottoman Theatre
by Marina Johnson, Nabra Nelson
25 June 2024
A promotional graphic for Kunafa and Shay featuring Mazen Alaa.
Nubian Theatre
Podcast

Nubian Theatre

9 July 2024

Nubia has a long history of theatre, both before and after the displacement of the 1960s. In this episode, hosts Marina Johnson and Nabra Nelson highlight Nubian theatre, including the only Nubian opera, Opera El Aml by Mohy El Din Sherif. With special guest Mazen Alaa from Nubian Geographic, this episode focus on Nubian theatre in Abu Simbel and the effect that the displacement had and continues to have on theatre in Nubia and the Nubian diaspora today.

A promotional graphic for Kunafa and Shay featuring Sarah Fahmy
Ibn Daniyal and Puppetry 
Podcast

Ibn Daniyal and Puppetry 

2 July 2024

Hosts Marina Johnson and Nabra Nelson look at MENA and SWANA puppetry traditions with guest artivist Dr. Sarah Fahmy. They talk about her production of the first recorded full play in English of Ibn Daniyal, The Shadow Spirit; the Aragoz Puppet; and, coming more into current puppetry practice by MENA folks, Fahmy's own ecofeminist puppetry practice.

A promotional graphic for Kunafa and Shay featuring Ottoman Art.
Ottoman Theatre
Podcast

Ottoman Theatre

25 June 2024

Hosts Marina Johnson and Nabra Nelson discuss Ottoman theatre, emphasizing its significance in global theatre history. They highlight the Ottoman Empire as a pivotal point of cultural exchange comparable to the Greek and Roman empires. They focus on three major forms of traditional theatre—Ortaoyunu, Karagöz, and Meddah—and dive into these forms of “plays performed in the open,” shadow theatre, and storytelling.

A promotional graphic for Kunafa and Shay featuring ancient architecture.
People of the Cave
Podcast

People of the Cave

18 June 2024

Hosts Marina Johnson and Nabra Nelson talk about Egyptian playwright Tawfiq al-Hakim and his “unstageable” classic play People of the Cave. They provide historical context of the play, al-Hakim’s career, and the Christian and Islamic stories that served as al-Hakim’s inspiration.

event poster for the theatrical jazz conference.
The Theatrical Jazz Conference
Video

The Theatrical Jazz Conference

Celebrating the Legacy of Groundbreaking Artists who Invoke Elements of Jazz as Theatrical Language

Friday 14 June 2024
Minnesota

Pillsbury House and Theatre (PH+T) presented The Theatrical Jazz Concert at The University of Minnesota that celebrates and extends the legacy of groundbreaking artists Laurie Carlos, Sekou Sundiata, Ntozake Shange, and numerous others who revolutionized the American theatre by invoking elements of classic jazz—such as call-and-response, polyphony, syncopation, and improvisation—as theatrical language.

A promotional graphic for Kunafa and Shay.
Majnun Layla
Podcast

Majnun Layla

11 June 2024

Audiences pack houses to see stories about forbidden love. Romeo and Juliet is a famous Western example of this phenomenon, but the trope goes back much further, to a poem that likely inspired even inadvertently Shakespeare's famous play. In this episode, we look at the timeless tale of Layla and Majnun made famous by Nizami Ganjavi as a poem and later adopted for the stage and the screen countless times.

A promotional graphic for Kunafa and Shay.
The Triumph of Horus
Podcast

The Triumph of Horus

4 June 2024

​​In this episode, hosts Nabra Nelson and Marina Johnson discuss the oldest surviving play, The Triumph of Horus. The play is an Ancient Egyptian script from the thirteenth century BCE that tells the story of the triumph of the god Horus over Set. Nabra and Marina go through the plot of the play, its history and significance, and give an overview of other forms of Ancient Egyptian theatre.

A photo of the outside of a Theatre Building with two statues in front.
The German Theatre System Has a Problem With Power and Discrimination
Essay

The German Theatre System Has a Problem With Power and Discrimination

3 June 2024

Thomas Schmidt, author of Power and Structure in Theater, shares his research on the German theatre landscape. He illuminates toxic power structures, explains how the way theatre operates is a result of Germany’s neocolonial and Nazi history, and offers recommendations for how to improve in the future.

headshot of René Pollesch.
Remembering Playwright and Director René Pollesch
Video

Remembering Playwright and Director René Pollesch

An Evening Celebrating the Life and Work of the Late Playwright and Director

Thursday 30 May 2024
New York City

New York theatre artist Matt Gasda and his ensemble from the Brooklyn Center for Theatre Research will be joined by David Levine for readings of two Pollesch plays Heidi Hoh, translated by Rose Riggs, and Insourcing ..., translated by David Tushingham.

black and white photograph of club attendees.
Celebrating CLUB 57 with founder Stanley Strychacki, Dany Johnson, Ande Whyland, and April Palmieri
Video

Celebrating CLUB 57 with founder Stanley Strychacki, Dany Johnson, Ande Whyland, and April Palmieri

A Panel Conversation

Thursday 23 May 2024
New York City

Segal Center celebrates the history of legendary CLUB 57. In 1978, a Polish emigré Stanley Strychacki rented a basement space of the Holy Cross Polish National Church at 57 St. Marks’ Place with an intention "to create an environment for artists so they could meet, collaborate, and create.”

A woman with long dark hair stands in front of a microphone.
The Longer We Live
Essay

The Longer We Live

7 May 2024

Iraisa Ann Reilly recounts the introductions, histories, and memories shared throughout the first day of the Latinx Theatre Commons Tenth Anniversary Convening. 

A promotional graphic for Teaching Theatre.
On Reinventing the Canon
Podcast

On Reinventing the Canon

30 April 2024

As conversations about the diversity and decolonization of syllabi continue, many theatre programs reconsider the texts they teach.  In this episode, host Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder talks with Nathan Alan Davis from Boston University and Yizhou Huang from St. Louis University about reinventing the canon. They question who controls the narrative, discuss what qualifies as canon, and offer up some suggestions for course redesign.

Book cover for Black Patience
Black Patience: Performance, Civil Rights, and the Unfinished Project of Emancipation
Video

Black Patience: Performance, Civil Rights, and the Unfinished Project of Emancipation

A talk with Dr. Julius Fleming on his latest book, followed by a discussion with Hillary Miller

Monday 11 March 2024

Dr. Julius Fleming visits the Segal Center to discuss his recent book, Black Patience: Performance, Civil Rights, and the Unfinished Project of Emancipation. This talk will be followed by a conversation with Hillary Miller.

A promotional graphic for Daughters of Lorraine.
Opening the Channel with Masi Asare
Podcast

Opening the Channel with Masi Asare

28 February 2024

Masi Asare is an assistant professor of theater and performance studies at Northwestern University. She is a songwriter and dramatist and also works as a performance scholar specializing in the study of race and vocal sound and musicals. On this episode, hosts Jordan Ealey and Leticia Ridley interview Masi on her experiences as a Black woman working in musical theatre and why Black women’s vocal training is so important. 

A group of people ask questions to a panel.
Towards a Sustainable Theatre Model
Essay

Towards a Sustainable Theatre Model

27 February 2024

Scott Walters, author of Building a Sustainable Theater: How to Remove Gatekeepers and Take Control of Your Artistic Career, sits down with Munroe Shearer to discuss the ways artist-owned theatres can succeed and best serve their communities. 

A man stands with his back to the camera and stares at an empty set on stage.
Can’t Do Theatre by Yourself
Essay

Can’t Do Theatre by Yourself

23 January 2024

Latinx theatremakers Jorge Piña and Christin Eve Cato sit down for a conversation about their paths through the theatre field and their advice for future generations looking to sustain this work while caring for themselves and each other.

A promotional graphic for Daughters of Lorraine.
The Thriving Legacy of Black Theatre: The Making of a Movement
Podcast

The Thriving Legacy of Black Theatre: The Making of a Movement

20 December 2023

Hosts Leticia Ridley and Jordan Ealey discuss Woodie King, Jr.’s 1978 documentary, Black Theatre: The Making of a Movement. They explore the documentary’s different themes, its impact on Black theatre history, and what it means for our present and future. 

A promotional graphic for the Daughters of Lorraine Podcast.
We’ve Got Trouble in Mind
Podcast

We’ve Got Trouble in Mind

29 November 2023

Hosts Jordan Ealey and Leticia Ridley discuss the contributions made by Alice Childress and the historical and contemporary significance of her play, Trouble in Mind, including the filmed 2021 production at the National Theatre in London.

Ten actors link arms with each other during a performance.
Balancing Trauma and Joy While Teaching Queer Theatre History
Essay

Balancing Trauma and Joy While Teaching Queer Theatre History

24 October 2023

Theatre professor John Michael DiResta reflects on teaching queer theatre history to students who have had very different lived queer experiences than he had growing up. By investigating queer theatrical history from a contemporary lens and with an invitation to engage and make something new, his students were able to find the joy in history where they previously only saw trauma.

Daughters of Lorraine Podcast teaser.
The Influence and Impact of the Negro Ensemble Company
Podcast

The Influence and Impact of the Negro Ensemble Company

18 October 2023

This episode focuses on the iconic Negro Ensemble Company (NEC). Hosts Leticia Ridley and Jordan Ealey delve into the NEC’s founding and history, its track record of producing successful Black plays, and its legacy within Black theatre and performance.

Gender Euphoria teaser image featuring guest profile images.
Queer Archival Praxis Roundtable
Podcast

Queer Archival Praxis Roundtable

With Guests David Silvernail, Janet Werther, Victoria Lafave, Jordan Ealey, and Kelli Crump

6 September 2023

What role does white supremacy play in the creation of the queer theatre canon? What power and what responsibility do we—as queer theatremakers, historians, and educators—have to challenge canons and archives that define “queer” almost exclusively as white and cisgender? Artist-scholars Janet Werther, Victoria LaFave, Jordan Ealey, David Silvernail, and Kelli Crump join host Nicolas Shannon Savard to tackle these questions and to queer the archive.

Many multi-colored board game pawns arranged in a circle.
A Revolution in Governance
Essay

A Revolution in Governance

17 May 2023

Jaan Whitehead examines the history of boards in the theatre sector and argues for a better way to approach governance, including through changes to a board’s membership, structure, and values.

Two people standing on a barely lit stage with large photos of faces behind them.
Claim Your Culture, Find Your Power
Essay

Claim Your Culture, Find Your Power

5 May 2023

Jacqueline Flores and Abel López, co-curators of the Latinx Leaders at the Forefront series, discuss their careers, their sense of cultural identity as Latinx theatremakers, and importance of intergenerational dialogue.

From the Ground Up Podcast Teaser image featuring guest profile image.
Looking for Another Way
Podcast

Looking for Another Way

3 May 2023

Playwright and director Karen Malpede joins Jeffrey Mosser to talk about her career and connections from the Open Theater to Theater Three Collaborative, as well as her partner George Bartenieff, an actor and champion for the avant-garde.

On the left, a headshot of Nidia Medina; on the right, a headshot of Jose Luis Valenzuela.
Reflecting the United States Latinx Experience on Stage
Essay

Reflecting the United States Latinx Experience on Stage

2 May 2023

Nidia Medina, associate artistic director of INTAR Theatre, interviews José Luis Valenzuela, artistic director of the Latino Theater Company, about his path into artistic direction, his mentors, and the legacy he has cultivated.

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