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research inquiries

Religion & Performance

Performances of white Christian nationalism

Wholly Communion already uses a degree of religious sociology research in its background and execution, but I also presented a paper at the UCLA grad student conference on the performances of White Christian Nationalism (WCN). While the carrying of Christian iconography alongside overtly white nationalist flags into the US Capitol during the January 6 insurrection represent the most memorable performances and symbols of white Christian nationalism in the contemporary United States, this ideology has much more quotidian performances that appear in many other sectors of day-to-day life, including Christian arts & popular culture, church services, and social media.

Shame & hegemonic masculinity

Using theatre to break the cycle

I have examined the role of shame in reinforcing structures of hegemonic masculinity, particularly among adolescent boys. Pulling from scholars such as bell hooks, Peggy Orenstein, and Brené Brown, I outlined a theory for a hegemonic masculinity shame cycle. I then considered how we can use theatre as a method of interrupting this cycle by fostering connection, rehearsing alternative performances, and encouraging shame regulation. Monster Recess emerged in part as a result of this research. Please contact me for more information or portions of my papers. :)

Authoritarian social Change Tactics

Analyzing Performance propaganda & its insights

As theatre artists, we often believe fundamentally in the intense potency of our art form to impact people in positive ways. We remember moments where our attendance at live theatre performances impacted us for years to come, and many of us have dedicated our lives specifically to art forms that engage people socially, civically, and educationally. Many theatre artists, however, often fail to consider the ways that opportunistic, oppressive, or even evil groups and individuals can co-opt theatre practices and applied drama methods for insidious or harmful purposes. Theatre historians have chronicled the harmful theatre practices of societies across millennia, but perhaps the most salient examples lie among twentieth century authoritarian governments. These regimes stand out among the most “obvious” for their utility of theatre toward destructive ends. This paper examines on a survey level the theatre propaganda practices of a variety of authoritarian governments in the twentieth century, namely two fascist governments and two communist governments across Europe and Asia, to uncover the similarities among their theatre propaganda practices and the ways that contemporary theatre for social change artists can learn how to maximize effectiveness and avoid harm in their efforts at creating social change through the arts.

Distance & Connection

Using Onwueme & Brecht to foster compassion

In July 2021, I presented my paper titled "Distance and Connection: Using the Alienation Effect and Onwueme's 'The Drama of Commitment' as a Lens for Compassion-Oriented Theatre" at IFTR's New Scholar's Forum. This paper centered on the work of these two scholars and how we might combine their contributions with research in psychology to consider strategies for directors in moving people beyond empathetic feeling into compassionate action.

theatre and Empathy & compassion

undergraduate thesis

While a student at Texas Christian University, I had the opportunity to complete an undergraduate thesis titled "Understanding Theatre's Potential for Fostering Empathy and Compassion" under supervising professor Alan Shorter. Professor Lydia Mackay and Dr. Sarah Hill also served on my committee. This paper explores the existing literature on empathy, compassion, storytelling, and their relationship to theatre. It includes a psychological study of how viewing theatre impacts empathetic attitudes among audience members (a study I had the opportunity to present at the Society for Personality & Social Psychology Conference in February 2020, pictured to the right). The paper dives into an analysis of the overlaps between Stanislavski's techniques/ideas and the development of compassion, and it finishes with a proposed curriculum for a compassion workshop using the techniques of Stanislavski and a variety of other theatre practitioners. Feel free to contact me to ask for a copy of the paper.

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