About Me

Sukanya Thumbnail I am an artist-scholar and Associate Professor in Theatre Arts at the Department of Film and Theater, San Jose State University. I received my doctoral degree in Theater and Performance Studies at Stanford in June 2016. My dissertation, completed under the guidance of Dr. Jisha Menon, was awarded the Charles R. Lyons Memorial Prize for Outstanding Dissertation. My research project was supported by the Graduate Research Opportunities Award in Stanford, which facilitated my fieldwork in India and Bangladesh during the summer of 2013 and 2014; and the Wisch Fellowship by the Center for South Asia, Stanford University, for my work in South Asian theater and performance studies. My training and specialization are in the area of oral history; postcolonial and ethnic studies (with a focus on South Asian performance studies); ethnomusicology; dramatic literature; transcultural theater and performance; experimental devised performances; and community-based performance-making.

My research has been published in journals such as Indian Theatre Journal, Modern Drama, Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature, and Emergency Index. Many of my papers have also been selected for presentation at American Society for Theatre Research – ASTR (2016, 2018); International Society for Cultural History (2018); American Comparative Literature Association (2016); Association for Asian Performance Conference (2015); ATHE (2015); Performance Studies International (PSi) Conference at Leeds, UK (2012), Stanford University, USA (2013), Shanghai, China (2014) and Melbourne, Australia (2016); Jadavpur University, India (2012); Goldsmiths, University of London, UK (2011); and University of Pittsburgh (2011).

Having completed my Master’s degree in English literature from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, I have been involved in various theater productions, in English and other regional languages, staged in Kolkata, where I was born and raised. As an artist, I have been involved in various performances in the Bay Area and around the world – at Stanford, I performed in Democratically Speaking; acted in Seneca’s Oedipus, and directed Sam Shepard’s Killer’s Head, both staged as a part of Stanford Summer Theater Festival. I devised a performance piece ‘almost…home…’ (supported by the Spark! Grant from Stanford Arts Institute), which addresses questions of identity, place and belonging in a globalized world; and deals with personal narratives and political activism. I work on performance pieces that are multicultural and experimental in terms of combining different media; such as film and theater, visual art and performance, landscape and the live body, and site-specific and staged. This crossing over allows me to explore issues of hybridity, fragmentation and the effects of a globalized world in a performative context.

I also value practices of text-based performances and critical cultural studies. I have written original plays and worked closely with Prof. Cherrie Moraga, playwright and activist, in developing original text-based work. One of my original plays, A Bare Stage, was staged in April 2015 as part of the production season at Stanford. In 2012, I adapted Girish Karnad’s play, Hayavadana (the adapted version was titled Divided Together) and directed it for the departmental production.

I performed in several productions by EnActe Arts (The Conference of the Birds; Merchant on Venice; Noor: The Empress of the Mughals). I have worked as the dramaturg for several EnActe productions, such as SoundWaves: The Passion of Noor Inayat Khan (2017); and The Parting (2018), which is based on lived experiences of survivors of the Partition of India, 1947. I also directed a youth production of the Ramayana, co-produced by EnActe Arts, SFShakes and the City of Cupertino.

In August 2014, I was selected to attend a ten-day performance workshop, led by Eugenio Barba and his team, at Odin Teatret, Denmark, which emphasized and demonstrated the importance of body-based performance techniques; methods of non-verbal communication; and the politics of intercultural performances in a globalizing world.

It would be wonderful to hear back from you, and you can always reach me via email (sukanya.myself[at]gmail[dot]com).

Sukanya C.

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