Personal profile

Summary

I am Interim Head, School of Film, Media and Communication, and Reader in Performance. My transdisciplinary work in history, cultural studies and environmental justice demonstrates the ongoing relevance of performance in a world of rapidly changing technologies and enduring racial, social, and economic inequalities.

My monograph, Holocaust Memory and Youth Performance (Bloomsbury/Methuen Drama, 2024), offers the first book-length critical analysis of youth-focused plays and performances about the Holocaust. Through an examination of dramatic literature and performances from around the world, including Germany, Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Poland, and Australia, Holocaust Memory and Youth Performance shows the critical role youth performance plays in coping with the legacy of historical tragedy.

My scholarship and practice research have been supported by grants from Innovate UK (in collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company), the US State Department (in collaboration with Kinnaird College for Women University in Lahore, Pakistan), and fellowships at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Free University of Berlin, the University of Bonn, the Technical University of Berlin, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

I am currently working on a series of transdisciplinary performances that combine oral histories from waste pickers, environmental scientists, and policy experts to contribute to the ongoing UN global plastics treaty negotiations. Performances have been staged in Nairobi, Kenya in November 2023 (supported by GRID Arendal) and Ottawa, Canada in April 2024 (suppoted by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and endorsed by the UK and Chilean governments). I am also currently working on my second monograph, Making Mindful Performance, which explores the historical and cultural relationship among performance, presence, and meditative practices.

My practice research as a theatre director has been seen on stages in Germany, Israel, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Pakistan. I frequently work in non-traditional performance sites with major stakeholders. I directed a forum theatre performance about UK land management at the Royal Society. I directed the UK premiere of Finegan Kruckemeyer’s Boats aboard a WWI-era warship at the National Museum of the Royal Navy. I staged Scattering Salt in the Victorian-era prison underneath the Brighton Town Hall UK (starred review). My current play The Amazing Life of Margot Heuman is a work of documentary theatre, created together with historian Anna Hájková, is based on interview transcripts with Jewish lesbian Holocaust survivor Margot Heuman. The play premiered in 2021 at the Brighton Fringe Festival and is currently being screened through venues around the world including the Wiener Holocaust Library (UK), Carleton College (Canada), the GLBT Historical Society San Francisco (USA), and the University of Hamburg (Germany). To see a selection of images and videos of my performance work please see my portfolio at http://www.erikaehughes.com/performance.html

From 2019-2021 I worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon as a research dramaturg on the Audiences of the Future project, which explored how technology can expand the reach of performance to better engage with marginalized communities and those who had not experienced live theatre. As an experienced digital storyteller, I am currently facilitating a series of projects using arts-based methods to engage with diverse values in coastal communities in England, Wales, and Scotland, which is supported by the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council and Economic and Social Research Council.

From 2013-2019 I led The Veterans Project and Odyssey Home, international performance-oral history research initiatives that used technology and performance to foster dialogue among military veterans and the civilian communities in which they live. The Veterans Project and Odyssey Home were performed multiple times in the US and UK, with veterans from the US Army, US Navy, US Marine Corps, US Air Force, Royal Army, and Royal Air Force. The veterans have served in conflicts ranging from Vietnam to Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Falkland Islands. For more information please see http://www.erikaehughes.com/the-veterans-project.html

Prior to joining UP I was Assistant Professor of Theatre for Youth and Communities at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ, USA. I earned my PhD in Theatre and Drama from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2009 under the supervision of Robert Skloot and Manon van de Water. My articles and reviews have been published in a number of journals including Theatre Topics, Research in Drama Education, the Journal of European StudiesPerformance Research, Youth Theatre Journal, the Brecht Yearbook, and Theatre Journal, as well as a number of edited volumes. In 2021 I co-edited a special issue of Youth Theatre Journal on sites of intergenerational performance, many of which were impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic. I have given keynote addresses at international conferences in the United States, Poland, and Pakistan. An experienced peer reviewer, I regularly referee for academic publishers and journals, and was a research awards juror for the American Alliance for Theatre and Education from 2012-2016.

I welcome supervision queries from postgaduate students who are interested in applied theatre, theatre and technology, digital storytelling, cultural diplomacy, historiography in/as performance, ethnography, German theatre and cultural studies, Jewish studies, and the relationship between performance and geopolitical conflict. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Ph.D., Youth Holocaust Drama: A Study of Memory, History, and National Identity, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Award Date: 18 Dec 2009

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