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Marianne Weems

Professor, Theater Arts
Directing, crossmedia performance, post-dramatic theater theory and practice, documentary theater directing and dramaturgy.

Marianne Weems is a theater and opera director and founder of the award-winning New York-based theater company The Builders Association, an influential ensemble that has created a significant body of work at the forefront of integrating media with live performance. With the company, she has created and directed 17 original large-scale productions and worked with unexpected collaborators including the architects Diller + Scofidio, The National Center for Super Computing Applications, and the South Asian arts collective motiroti. Her work has toured domestically and internationally to over 80 venues including the RomaEuropa Festival, the Festival Iberoamericano de Bogota, the Seoul Festival, the Melbourne Theater Festival, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Guggenheim Museum. Her last four performances have had their New York premieres at The Brooklyn Academy of Music.


Weems has also worked in various creative roles with The Wooster Group, (where she was the dramaturg from 1988-94), David Byrne, Taryn Simon, Susan Sontag, The V-Girls, and many others. 


She was the head of Graduate Directing in the School of Drama at Carnegie Mellon University and in 2014 participated in founding a new program there in Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology.

Education and Training: 
Whitney Museum Independent Studio Program New York, NY 1986
Barnard College, New York, NY B.A. Music Composition/Program in the Arts, 1985
Selected Performances: 
  • ELEMENTS OF OZ (2016) A crossmedia production based on The Wizard of Oz incorporating augmented reality. Venues: 3LD Art&Technology Center; Peak Performances, Montclair State University
  • EMILIE (2015) A contemporary opera by composer Kaija Saariaho based of the life of Emilie de Chatelet. Venues: Finnish National Opera, Lincoln Center Festival, Spoleto Festival
  • SONTAG: REBORN (2013) A crossmedia production based on the journals of Susan Sontag, conceived in collaboration with Moe Angelos, performer. Venues: Arts Emerson, Boston; Seoul International Arts Festival; New York Theater Workshop; The Public Theater “Under the Radar” Festival, NY; 3LD Art and Technology Center
  • HOUSE/DIVIDED (2010) A crossmedia production interweaving Steinbeck’s The Grapes Of Wrath with the 2008 mortgage crisis. Venues: Arts Emerson, Boston; The Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival, New York; The Wexner Center For The Arts Columbus, Ohio; the Krannert Center, University of Illinois, Urbana 
  • CONTINUOUS CITY (2008) A crossmedia production drawn from Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities.  Developed with collaborating artists in Mexico City, Shanghai, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Toronto, as well as the National Center for Supercomputing.Venues: London International Theater Festival (LIFT); Copenhagen International Theater Festival; Carolina Performing Arts, Chapel Hill, NC; Wexner Center, Columbus, OH; Luminato Festival, Toronto; The Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival, New York; The Krannert Center, University of Illinois, Urbana; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco Workshop/rehearsals: Developed through a residency at U.C. Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies in collaboration with the Center for New Media.
  • SUPER VISION (2006) A crossmedia performance developed with the 3d animation studio dbox. Venues: Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College; Perth International Arts Festival, Australia; New Zealand International Arts Festival; Liverpool European Capital of Culture, U.K.; Tramway, Glasgow, U.K.; Salamanca International Arts Festival, Spain; ZeroOne Festival for Digital Arts, San Jose, CA; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, CA; Walker Center for the Arts, Minneapolis, The Krannert Center, University of Illinois; MCA Chicago;  UC Davis, CA: REDCAT, Los Angeles; Wexner Arts Center, Columbus; On the Boards, Seattle; The Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival.
  • INVISIBLE CITIES (2005) A crossmedia installation and performance developed with at-risk high school students through the Institute for Collaborative Education and the Brooklyn College Community Partnerships program. 3LD Art & Technology Center, New York, NY
  • ALLADEEN (2003) A crossmedia production, website, and music video developed with the South Asian London-based company motiroti  Venues: The Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.; Melbourne International Arts Festival, AustraliaBonn Biennale, Germany;  Bergen International Festival, Norway;  Hopkins Center, Dartmouth;  Festival Iberoamericano de Bogota; On the Boards, Seattle; REDCAT, Los Angeles; The  Brooklyn Academy of Music “Next Wave” Festival, New York; Guggenheim Museum Works & Process, NYC; Tramway, Glasgow, Scotland; Contact Theatre, Manchester, U.K.; Warwick Arts Centre, U.K.; Romaeuropa Festival, Italy; La Ferme du Buisson, Paris, France; Barbican Centre, London, UK; Singapore Arts Festival, Singapore; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio.
  • XTRAVAGANZA (2001) A crossmedia production drawing from the lives of multimedia artists working from 1890-1930. Venues: Performing Arts Chicago; The Whitney Museum of American Art; the Guggenheim Museum Works & Process; Kaaitheater, Brussels; Rotterdam Schowburg, Netherlands; Le Volcan, Le Havre, France; Le Maillon, Strasbourg, France; Mousanturm, Frankfurt; St. Ann’s Warehouse
  • JET LAG (1998) A crossmedia production based on two true stories about travel, developed with architects Diller + Scofidio. OBIE award “Best Production” 2000. Venues: Peak Performance Montclair State University (remount); The Barbican Centre, London; Festival des Ameriques, Montreal; On The Boards, Seattle; The Kitchen, New York; Copenhagen International Theater Festival, MASS MoCA (opening production);  Trafo Theater, Budapest, Hungary; Kaaitheater, Brussels; Maison des Arts, Paris; Via Festival, Maubeuge, France; Fin de Siecle, Nantes, France; Dutch Electronic Arts Festival, Rotterdam; Kulturhus, Aarhus, Denmark
  • JUMP CUT (FAUST) (1997) A crossmedia production drawn from multiple versions of Faust, written by John Jesurun. Venues: Kaaitheater, Brussels, Maison des Arts, Paris; National Theater of Brittany, Rennes, France; Via Festival, Maubeuge, France; Thread Waxing Space, New York; Spiel Art Festival, Munich 
  • IMPERIAL MOTEL (FAUST) (1996) A crossmedia production developed with the Theater Neumarkt, Zurich, Switzerland Created and performed at the Theater Neumarkt, May- November.
  • MASTER BUILDER (1994) A crossmedia production and installation based on Ibsen’s The Master Builder. Venues: The Storefront for Art and Architecture, NYC; Industrial space, Chelsea, New York City, August - December
  • Roy Cohn/Jack Smith (dramaturg/producer) (1992) A solo performance by Ron Vawter.  Film released under the same title, co-produced by Marianne Weems, James Schamus, Ted Hope. Executive Producer Jonathan Demme. Venues: ICA, London; Hebbel Theater, Berlin; Weiner Festwochen, Vienna; Felix Meritus, Amsterdam; Kaaitheater, Brussels; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Wexner Center for the Arts; Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis
  • Daughters of the ReVolution (1991) A “panel performance” by the collaborative group The V-Girls. (Andrea Fraser, Martha Baer, Erin Cramer, Jessica Chalmers, and Marianne Weems) Venues: EA Generali, Vienna; CUNY Graduate Center, NYC; Yale University, New Haven, CT; Duke University, Durham, N.C; Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN The Drawing Center, New York; Manhattan Theater Club, “Writers in Performance”
  • The Question of Manet's "Olympia":  Posed and Skirted (1989) A “panel performance” by The V-Girls. Venues: Modern Language Association, Chicago; Chicago Art Institute; Brown University; Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; Institute for Contemporary Art, London, U.K.; Mayfest, Glasgow, Scotland; The New Museum, New York; CUNY Graduate Center, New York; New York University; CalArts, CA; College Art Association Conference, San Francisco, CA; Berkeley Art Museum, University of California


  • 2016 Production consultant and collaborator: The Occupation of Loss, an installation and performance by Taryn Simon. Park Avenue Armory, New York, Oct 2016,
  • 2006-2009 Dramaturg: Here Lies Love, a theatrical music event with David Byrne and Fatboy Slim. Work-in-progress showings:  Carnegie Hall 2007, Adelaide Festival 2006.
  • 2004-2007 The Presence Project – a joint project between Stanford University and Exeter University (U.K.) tracking seven international artists over five years. The Presence Project combined academic expertise from performance theory, computer science, and anthropological archaeology to investigate means by which “presence” is achieved and to deepen an understanding of the performance of presence.
  • 2006 Disney Creative Entertainment and Walt Disney Imagineering – Workshop rehearsal and demonstration in a CAVE (computer animated virtual environment)
Selected Publications: 
  • Weems, Marianne and Shannon Jackson The Builders Association: Performance and Media in Contemporary Theater MIT Press, 2015.
  • Weems, Marianne, Brian Wallis and Philip Yenawine (co-edited) Art Matters: How the Culture Wars Changed America NYU Press, 2000.
  • “Dramaturgy on the Road to Immortality: Inside The Wooster Group.” by Norman Frisch and Marianne Weems with Elizabeth Bennett in Dramaturgy in American Theater Harcourt Brace 1997.
  • The V-Girls (Andrea Fraser, Martha Baer, Erin Cramer, Jessica Chalmers, and Marianne Weems) “Daughters of the Revolution.” October Winter 1995 Vol 71: 121-140.
  • The V-Girls “A Conversation with OCTOBER.” October Winter 1989 Vol 51: 115-143.
  • “Transgressive Media: in conversation with Elizabeth LeCompte.” Felix: Journal of Media Arts and Communication 1993 Vol 1 No 3: 51-59.
Honors and Awards: 
  • 2017 Guggenheim Fellow
  • 2011 New York Theater Workshop’s Artists’ Initiative Recipient
  • 2008 Featured Artist: European Capital of Culture Liverpool
  • 2004 OBIE Award “Best Production”
  • 2000 OBIE Award, “Outstanding Production” 
  • MacDowell Colony Fellow 2003, 2004
  • Yaddo Colony Fellow 1998, 2000, 2005, 2007, 2009

Multiple grant awards from: The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Carnegie Foundation, Creative Campus Innovations Grant Program, The Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Lucille Lortel Foundation, The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Dramatists Guild Fund, The Greenwall Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, The Emma A. Sheafer Charitable Trust, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Microsoft Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, the New England Foundation for the Arts, The Rockefeller MAP Fund, and The Lila Acheson Wallace Theater Fund.

Work co-commissioned by: The Brooklyn Academy of Music; Barbican Centre, London; Kaaitheater, Brussels; The Kitchen, New York; The Krannert Center, University of Illinois; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Maison des Arts, Paris; National Theater of Brittany, France; Spoleto Festival USA; The Walker Center for the Arts, Minneapolis; Wexner Arts Center, Columbus; Via Festival, Maubeuge, France; St. Ann’s Warehouse New York.

Selected Presentations: 

For over 20 years Weems has given presentations at such venues as UC Berkeley, Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University Lewis Center for the Arts, the Seoul Center for the Arts, the SHIFT Festival Shanghai China, Theatre national de la Colline Paris, and more on topics such as “The Builders Association, New Performance and Old Media,” “Crossmedia Performance in Theory and Practice” and “Trajectories of Technology and Theater.”

(831) 459-2699
Theater Arts Center, J Building, Rm J113
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