Michael Chemers

Theater history and theory, playwriting, dramaturgy, acting.
Associate Professor

Michael Chemers

Associate Professor, Theater Arts
Email: 
chemers@ucsc.edu
Office: 
J-18
Phone: 
Office: 831-502-7571
Office Hours: 
Please contact the professor for current office hours.
Research Interests: 

Michael Chemers was the founding Director of the Bachelor in Fine Arts Dramaturgy program at Carnegie Mellon University. He is the author of the 'Ghost Light' model of dramaturgy, a muscular, creatively engaged, artistically vibrant approach to dramaturgy that requires thorough historical understanding, theoretical training broad and deep, and a passionate dedication to creating powerful, relevant performances of all types.

His work on freak shows has appeared in Modern Drama, The New England Theatre Journal, The Journal of Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film, Theatre Forum, and Disability Studies Quarterly, for which he has also served as an editor. His work as a theatre historian and theorist has appeared in these journals, as well as in Theatre Survey, Theatre Topics, Journal of Theatre and Performance, and Comparative Drama. He has also written chapters for books on South Park and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Education and Training: 
2001 PhD, Theatre History and Theory, University of Washington
1997 MFA, Playwriting, Indiana University
Selected Publications: 

Books

Ghost Light: An Introductory Handbook for Dramaturgy. Theatre in the Americas Series. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2010.

Staging Stigma: A Critical Examination of the American Freak Show. Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2008. Winner: ATHE Outstanding Book Award of 2009 (Hon. Ment.)

Published Plays

Lysistrata. with J.A. Ball. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2008.

The Inspector General. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2011.

Chapters

"I'm Not Special?: Timmy, Jimmy, and the Double-Move of Disability Parody in South Park" in DECONSTRUCTING SOUTH PARK: CRITICAL EXAMINATIONS OF ANIMATED TRANSGRESSION. Brian Cogan, ed. (Lanham, MY: Lexington, 2012: pp. 29-54)

"Wild and Untamed Thing: The Exotic, Erotic, and Neurotic Rocky Horror Performance Cult." in Reading Rocky Horror: The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Popular Culture. Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, ed (Palgrave MacMillan: New York, 2008)

Articles

"That Not-OK Feeling: Circus Contraption's THE GRAND AMERICAN TRAVELING DIME MUSEUM at the Theatre for the New City." TheatreForum International Theatre Journal n. 31 (Summer/Fall 2007), pp. 58-67.

"'With Your Shield, Or On It'; Disability Representation in 300." Disability Studies Quarterly, 27:3 (Summer 2007)

"Anti-Semitism, Surrogacy, and the Invocation of Mohammed in the Play of the Sacrement." Comparative Drama 41:1 (Spring 2007), pp. 25-55.

"Freakery: Aberrant Performances, Prodigious Narrative." Disability Studies Quarterly, 25:4 (Fall 2005)

"Staging Stigma: A Freak Studies Manifesto." Disability Studies Quarterly, 25:3 (Summer 2005)

"Midget Cities: Utopia, Utopianism, and the Vor-schein of the 'Freak' Show." With Richard P. Howells. Disability Studies Quarterly, 25:3 (Summer 2005).

"Jumpin' Tom Thumb: Charles Stratton on Stage at the American Museum." Nineteenth Century Theater and Film 31:2 (Winter 2004), pp 16-27. Manchester, UK.

"Mutatis Mutandis: X-2 and the Discourse of Disability." Disability Studies Quarterly, 24:1 (Winter 2004).

"Le Freak, C'est Chic: the 21st Century Freak Show, Pornography of Disability or Theatre of Transgression?" Modern Drama, 46:2 (Summer 2003), pp. 285-304.

"On the Boards in Brobdignag: Performing Tom Thumb." New England Theatre Journal, v. 12 (October 2001), pp. 79-104.

Selected Presentations: 

Invited Lectures

"Ghost Light Dramaturgy." University of Connecticut, 17 Feb 2011.

"Ghost Light Dramaturgy." Southern Appalachian University, Charleston NC, forthcoming.

"Ghost Light Dramaturgy." University of California at Santa Cruz, 16 Nov 2010.

"Phronesis: Re-concieving Dramaturgy as a Cultural Studies Discipline." Humanism Panel, Carnegie Mellon University, 7 April 2009.

"Choosing an Academic Theatre Season" with Elizabeth Bradley. Narr. Marge Myers. Lab A6. I-Tunes Podcast, Carnegie Mellon University. 30 Mar 2007.

"New Freakery as Theater of Transgression." Public Lecture: Carnegie Mellon University, February 19, 2004.

Conference Presentations and Workshops

"Mapping Practices in Late-Medieval Conversion Plays." With John A. Warrick. Mapping Performance Cultural Conference, University of Nottingham, UK: 3 April 2009.

"The Paradigmatic Paradox of the Early Modern Map in two Medieval Conversion Plays." With John A. Warrick. American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) National Conference, Boston, MA: 12 November 2008.

"America Different: Santa Fe's Zozobra as Utopian Performative." With J.A. Ball. American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) National Conference, Phoenix AZ, 17 Nov 2007.

"From the Margins to the Mainstream: Disability Theatre Takes Center Stage in Pittsburgh." Society for Disability Studies (SDS) National Conference, Seattle, WA, 12 Jun 2007.

"Loving the Alien: The Underground Circus Movement in the United States." American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) National Conference, Chicago, IL, 17 Nov 2006.

"Venus Descending: Re-Enfreaking Sarah Bartmaan and Surrogating the New South Africa." Society for Disability Studies National Conference, College Park, Maryland, 15 Jun 2006.

"'A Simple African Woman:' Burying Sarah Bartmaan, Consecrating the New South Africa." With J.A. Ball. American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) National Conference, Toronto CA, November 2005.

"Blood, Body, and Bone: 'Living History' as a Pedagogical Tool for Conservatory Training." Theatre Histriography Research Group: American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) National Conference, Toronto CA, November 2005.

"Goin' Medieval: The Importance of Early Modern Studies to the Theatre School Curriculum." Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) National Conference, July 2005.

"Players, Passions, Mel Gibson, and the Structures of Medieval Anti-Semitism." Association for Jewish Studies (AJS) National Conference, Chicago IL, December 2004.

"Wild and Untamed Thing: The Erotic, Exotic, and Neurotic Rocky Horror Performance Cult." American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) National Conference, Las Vegas NV, November 2004.

Chair and Presenter: "Disability, Dystopia, and Disabuse: Querying 'Dismodernism' in the American Theatre." ATHE National Conference, Toronto, 29 July, 2004.

"Wilt the Unicorn Serve Thee? Dismodernism and the Glass Menagerie." ATHE National Conference, Toronto, 29 July 2004.

"Mohammed In Their Mouths: Falsehood, Forgery, and Forgetting in the representation of Jews on the Medieval Stage." Comparative Drama Conference, Columbus OH, April 29-May 1, 2004.

"This Is My Blood You Drink: Staging the Jew in the Early Modern Theatre." Association for Jewish Studies National Conference, Boston, December 21-23, 2003.

"'Ukhe wambona no umpathi? (Have You Seen The Boss Anywhere?)': Theorizing a Post-Apartheid Dramaturgy for Master Harold...and the boys.." With J.A. Ball. American Society of Theater Research National Conference, Durham, NC, November 20-23, 2003.

"Le Freak, C'est Chic: The Eroticizing Gaze and the Changing Face of Disability in Performance." ATHE National Conference, San Diego. July 24-28, 2002.

"Norm-Stalgia: Ableism and Theatre History." Society for Disability Studies (SDS) Annual Meeting, Oakland CA. June 5-9, 2002.

"The Mechanics of Freakery: Performing Monstrosity in the Nineteenth Century American Freak Show." Comparative Drama Conference, Columbus OH, April 25-28, 2002.

"The 21st-Century Freak Show: Pornography of Disability or Theatre of Transgression?" Mid-America Theatre Conference (MATC), St. Louis, MO. March 7-10, 2002.

"Hoc Est Corpus Meum: Theatrical Transubstantiation and Christian Mimesis in the Croxton Play of the Sacrament." Comparative Drama Conference, Columbus OH. April 24-28, 2001.

Honors and Awards: 

Scholarly Honors

2010   Ghost Light: An Introductory Handbook for Dramaturgy listed in "Significant University Press Titles for Undergraduates, 2009-2010." Choice, V.47, no. 09, May 2010.

2009  Association for Theater in Higher Education (ATHE) Outstanding Book Award, Honorable Mention, for Staging Sigma (Palgrave, 2008).

Playwriting Honors and Awards

2004   Screenwriter for 'When Tyrants Kiss,' featured in the Three Rivers Film Festival

1997   The Harold and Marilyn B. Cohen Playwriting Award, Bloomington IN, for Mommy Abula's Miraculous Traveling Carnival of Wonders

1996   Association for Theatre in Higher Education New Play Development Workshop (ATHE NPDW) National Competition Winner, New York, NY, for Very Short Play About Almost Nothing.

1996   Second Prize, National Midwestern Playwright's Competition, Toledo OH, for In Uffish Thought.

1992   First Prize, Salt Lake Experimental Theatre Company Playwright's Festival. Salt Lake City, UT for The Color of Time.

1991   First Prize, Utah Shorts Playwriting Competition, Sundance Institute/Salt Lake Acting Company for The Paper Death, Salt Lake City, UT.

1988   Second Award for Dramatic Script, Scholastic, Inc. National Creative Writing Competition, New York City, NY for The Color ofTime.

1988   First Prize, Utah Young Playwright's Competition, Sundance Institute/Salt Lake Acting Company for The Color of Time, Salt Lake City, UT.

1988   Young Playwriting Fellowship, Sundance Institute. Sundance, UT.

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