Tufts University  |  School of Arts and Sciences  |  Find People  | 


Graduate Students

Graduate Students in Drama
Lydia Abel
Lydia Abel is a PhD candidate specializing in contemporary American drama and avant-garde theatre of the twentieth-century. Her dissertation, entitled The Expansion of Media: Collage Culture and the (New) American Theatre, interrogates the function of collage techniques and practices in twentieth century American theatre history, centering around avant-garde theatre from post-World War II to the present. She holds an MA from Miami University of Ohio, where she studied Soviet theatre and popular culture. Her master’s thesis was titled, "Jester To His Majesty The People" Or Jester To His Majesty The Soviets: Politics Of Clowning During The Russian Civil War. In addition to having presented research at conferences such as the American Society for Theatre Research, The Space Between Society, and The Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture Since 1900, Lydia has also benefitted from participation in the Mellon School for Theatre and Performance Research at Harvard in 2015.
Daniel Ciba
Daniel Ciba is entering his fourth year as Ph. D. Candidate in Drama. He received his M.A. in Theatre from Villanova University in 2012, where he served as dramaturg for Marina Carr's Woman and Scarecrow. He has presented research on, Tennessee Williams, memory studies, adaptation theory, and queer performance at the Indiana University's Graduate Theater Symposium, the Philadelphia Theatre Research Symposium, the Association of Theatre in Higher Education, the Humanities Education and Research Association and, most recently, at the South Eastern Theatre Conference Theatre Symposium, where he presented a paper on Lee Breuer's French production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Last year, he served as the Chair of Student Life for the Graduate Student Council, mentored undergraduate teaching artists as the Theatre Arts Education Instructor for the Boston Shakespeare Project, and received the Most Valuable Tutor Award for his work as a Time Management Consultant with the Academic Resource Center.
Ibby Cizmar
Ibby Cizmar is a PhD candidate writing her dissertation on Ernie McClintock's Jazz acting technique, which explores the intersection of acting theory, culture, and politics from 1966 to present day. A trained actor with an MFA from the Actors Studio Drama School, she has professionally acted directed and produced in NYC for the past 15 years in theatre, film and television. She is an Associate Faculty member at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts where she teaches acting, acting for musical theatre and theatre history. This fall she is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the department of theatre & dance at Bucknell University where she will teach theatre history. She is looking forward to directing Jose Rivera's "Marisol" as Bucknell's Fall 2016 mainstage production. www.ibbycizmar.com
Nicholas Coccoma
Nicholas Coccoma is a first-year Ph.D. candidate at Tufts, with research interests in medieval theater, dramatic theory, film, and modern drama. He is particularly drawn to the intersection of religion and drama; philosophies of catharsis; American film from the late Sixties through early Seventies; and Eugene O'Neill. Nick graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 2006, where he studied dramatic literature and acting. A native of Cooperstown, NY, he has lived in Boston for over eight years, where he has worked as a teacher, actor, movie critic, and chaplain. He holds Masters degrees in both Philosophy and Theology from Boston College.
Steve Drum
Steve Drum is a third-year PhD student at Tufts. His research interests include celebrity performance, film history, and LGBTQ popular entertainments. He has presented his work at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, the International Celebrity Studies Conference, the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association, and the Northeast Modern Language Association. He works as a Writing and Public Speaking consultant for the Academic Resource Center at Tufts. He also serves as chair for the Academic and Career Development committee in Tufts' Graduate Student Council. He earned a BFA in Drama from New York University and an MA in Cinema Studies from Savannah College of Art and Design.
Emma Futhey
Emma is a Ph.D. candidate at Tufts University. She received her B.A. in Theatre Studies from the Pennsylvania State University in 2006. In 2013 she graduated with a Masters in Theatre Education from Emerson College. Her Masters Thesis entitled, "Trauma and the Theatrical Aesthetic: Post 9/11 Trauma Theory in Contemporary British Documentary Theatre," received the Emerson College Performing Arts Department Graduate Award. She has presented papers at CDC, MATC, ATHE, and LMDA. In 2015, she served as the graduate dramaturg for the department's mainstage production of Richard III and is looking forward to working as the dramaturg for the upcoming mainstage production of Desire Under the Elms. In addition to her academic pursuits, she also works at ArtsBoston, a performing arts nonprofit geared towards audience development and arts promotion in the Greater Boston area. She is currently working on her dissertation, "'Born for Universal Sway': Women and Performance Culture in Boston, 1785-1861," a cultural exploration of the performance of womanhood in Antebellum Boston.
Jennifer Herron
Jenny Herron is entering her fourth year as a Tufts Drama graduate student. Having recently earned her Master's degree in Drama from Tufts, she is now pursuing her Ph.D. Her research interests include antebellum African American theatre, LGBTQ theatre, and theatre in the education sector. Before coming to Tufts, Jenny had the opportunity to work as a member of the stage management team with The New Group, an off-Broadway theatre company in New York City. She also had the privilege of working as a high school English teacher in rural North Carolina through Teach for America.
Beck Holden
Beck Holden is a Ph.D. candidate in Drama. His primary research area is black theatre in America, and his dissertation examines the oeuvre and the afterlife of the early black musical comedy ensemble the Williams and Walker Company from roughly 1900 to 1930 through the lens its important but overlooked members Jesse Shipp and Alex Rogers. He has presented his research at ASTR, ATHE, the Comparative Drama Conference, the Mid-America Theatre Conference, and the Tufts Graduate Humanities Conference. His first peer-reviewed article was recently accepted to Text and Presentation. Beck also holds a B.A. in Theater Arts with a concentration in Acting from Brandeis University and an M.F.A. in Dramaturgy from the ART/MXAT Institute for Advance Theatre Training.
 Yizhou Huang
Yizhou Huang is entering her fourth year as a Ph.D. student in the Department of Drama and Dance. She received her B.A. in English literature from Beijing Foreign Studies University in 2013 and her M.A. in Drama from Tufts University in 2016. Her research interests include political theatre, contemporary Chinese theatre, and intercultural performance between China and the West. Before coming to Tufts, she interned at National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing

Teri Incampo
Theresa Incampo is a first year master's student. Originally from Denver, Colorado, she has called Boston her home since 2013. She received her B.A. in Theater and Dance from Trinity College (Harford), where she completed her thesis on the short dramatic works of Samuel Beckett. Her current research interests include postmodern and contemporary drama, phenomenology, and the utilization of theories of consciousness as tools in the praxis of performance. Teri is the Co-Artistic Director of the Boston-area fringe company Exiled Theatre. She is also an actor and director, having worked professionally in New York, Boston, and Northampton, MA.

Patrick King
Patrick King is a doctoral candidate working in the area of musical theatre. His dissertation focuses on the role of early nineteenth-century Viennese spectacular musical comedy in generating and articulating imperial identity. His MA thesis explored the relationship between midcentury American musical theatre and the rise of LP cast recordings. His work has been published in Text and Presentation and Puppetry International, and he has presented his research at the Comparative Drama Conference, Mid-America Theatre Conference, and ASTR. He is a fellow at the Center for Humanities at Tufts and has previously received the Tisch Library Graduate Humanities fellowship. Prior to his arrival at Tufts, he worked as an actor and literary manager in Chicago, and teaches acting with a particular focus on Viewpoints training.

Amy Meyer
Amy Meyer is a doctoral candidate whose research combines gender and dance theory with theatre history to analyze the ways that performing bodies communicate with audiences. Her areas of specialty are circus history and acrobatic acts, gender in performance, and risk in performance. Her dissertation looks at ground acts throughout the history of the western circus and explores how acrobatic bodies have long challenged dominant cultural conceptions of gender.

As a theatre practitioner Amy is also interested in highly physical traditions. She does work in movement-based devised theatre, partner acrobatics, aerial silks, and flying trapeze. She is a longtime member of the IRNE-award-winning theatre troupe Imaginary Beasts, in residence at the Boston Center for the Arts.

Amy received BAs in Theatre and English from Connecticut College and an MA in Drama from Tufts. At Tufts, she teaches for the Academic Resource Center and the Experimental College. She is currently a Lecturer in Theatre at Boston College.
Reza Mirsajadi
Reza Mirsajadi is a doctoral candidate writing a dissertation on contemporary Iranian theatre, focusing on the direction of canonical Western plays in Tehran since 1997. Last year, he won the Tufts Graduate Student Research Award, which he used to travel to Tehran to conduct archival and ethnographic research. He has written and presented on a variety of topics, from queer performance and African American theatre to North Korean censorship and documentary studies, and has a passion for finding interdisciplinary approaches to theoretical and historical research. Reza has worked closely with documentary theatre artists such as the Tectonic Theater Project, The Civilians, and Recorded Delivery, and his master's thesis, "Spectrums of Truth: Transcribing Reality in Documentary Musical Theatre," constructs a new analytical approach to performances of the real. He has presented his work at conferences for ASTR, ATHE, MLA, and CDC, and published in Puppetry International. Currently he is an adjunct instructor at Emerson University. Reza has also directed and musical directed in the Boston and Philadelphia areas, is an accomplished musical arranger, orchestrator, pianist, and playwright, and teaches acting at Tufts. He is dedicated to finding ways to use theatre as a mode of social activism and change, be it on the community level or global stages. He holds a B.A. in Theatre Arts from the University of Pennsylvania, and a M.A. in Drama from Tufts University.
Michael Leonard Kersey Morris
Michael is a doctoral candidate who also received his M.A. at Tufts. He received an AB in Russian literature from Harvard University and an MBA with an emphasis in organizational behavior from Brigham Young University. His research interests include commercial theater as a cultural industry, the hybrid organizational identities of theater organizations, musical theater, and American and Russian theater and drama. Methodologically, he is intrigued by ethnography, case study, and content analysis. Michael has presented research at meetings of the American Society for Theatre Research, Mid-America Theatre Conference, Scenography and Theatre Architecture Working Groups of the International Federation for Theatre Research, American Conference of Irish Studies, Association for Slavic East European and Eurasian Studies, and the Western Academy of Management. Michael is also a performer in musicals, straight plays and opera who has performed with the Los Angeles Opera, San Diego Opera, Utah Opera and Hale Centre Theatre, and the Tufts Opera Ensemble. He is a proud member of Actors' Equity Association and the American Guild of Musical Artists.
Jessica Pearson
Jessica Pearson is a first year Ph.D. candidate at Tufts. She spent ten years in the Washington, D.C., area where she completed her B.A. in Drama and M.A. in History, Criticism, and Dramaturgy at The Catholic University of America and worked as the Lead Teaching Artist at Round House Theatre, a major regional theatre in Bethesda, MD. Her research interests include the 20th century American musical, and the agency and authorship of women in popular media.
Tiffany Pounds-Williams
Tiffany Pounds-Williams is an ABD doctoral student currently writing her dissertation: "Forgotten Figures: The Rhetorical Function of Tecmessa, Chrysothemis, and Ismene in Tragedies of Sophocles and Selected Adaptations." She received her Bachelor's Degree in Theatre Arts at California State University, Bakersfield where she worked as the assistant in the Technical Theatre Department. She then received her Master's in Theatre Education at Emerson College, where her thesis was "The WOW Café Theatre: The First Ten Years." She founded the preschool theatre company "Let's Pretend: Tiny Tots Theatre," which is in its third season and most recently taught the drama course for kindergarten and first graders at Fayerweather Street School's summer camp.
İrem Seçil Reel Şen
İrem Seçil Reel Şen, a theatre scholar/artist, has worked as a director, dramaturg, and theatre educator. She is in her third year in the PhD program and studies phenomenology, cross-cultural performance, gender, labor, and diaspora. She currently works as the editor of the first English language edition of Yula's anthology Unofficial Roxelana and Other Plays by Özen Yula, slated for publication in January 2017 by The University of Chicago Press. She received fellowships from the Turkish Ministry of Culture and the Turkish Culture Foundation for her production and direction of Ambling Riders. She presented her research on sema, a religious rite of Mevlevis (whirling dervishes), at the ASTR and PSi. She recently participated in the Mellon School of Theater and Performance Research at Harvard University, to further expand her research about religion, theatre, and secularism.
Hanife Schulte
Hanife Schulte is a first-year doctoral student. Prior to Tufts University, she received M.A. degrees in theatre from Ankara University and Emerson College. At Emerson Stage, she served as dramaturg for Anything to Declare? directed by Benny Ambush Sato. DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) awarded her with a short-term research grant to conduct research on Bertolt Brecht and Frank Castorf in Berlin in 2016. She is also the recipient of The Performing Arts Graduate Award in the recognition of her master's thesis at Emerson College. Hanife has presented papers at various conferences including Arts Meet Research at the University of Hildesheim in Germany (2013), LMDA Conference at Emerson College in Boston (2014), and Recycling Brecht at the Oxford University (2016). Her research interests include dramaturgy, German theatre and drama, postdramatic theatre, Bertolt Brecht, and Frank Castorf.
Hesam Sharifian
Hesam Sharifian is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Drama and Dance. He holds a bachelor's degree in Dramatic Literature from Tehran University and a master's degree in Theatre History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is currently working on his dissertation, entitled "Americanizing Shakespeare in Print: Nineteenth-Century American Illustrated Editions of Shakespeare as Representations of National Identity," an iconographical study of the first American editions of Shakespeare’s works. He has presented his research in several national and international conferences, including the American Society for Theatre Research, the Francologie Conference at Tehran University, the Humanities Education and Research Association, and the Comparative Drama Conference. His latest paper entitled, "Werner Egk’s Peer Gynt: Anti-Semitism in the Work of Komponist des Wiederaufbaus" (co-authored with Sarah Henneböhl) will appear in the next issue of the New England Theatre Journal. In Spring 2015, he served as a Visiting Instructor of English at Wheaton College (M.A), and is currently working with Tufts University’s newly established program of Film and Media Studies. Beyond academia, he has worked for many years as a theatre critic and translator for several prominent Iranian newspapers and news agencies. His areas of scholarly interest include theatre and opera iconography, American commercial theatre in the long nineteenth century, German expressionist theatre and opera, and multi-culturalism in theatre.
Deleah Silva
Deleah Silva is a first-year doctoral student. She received her bachelor's degree in theatre from the University of Southern California, along with a minor in cinema-television production. Upon graduating, she worked in post-production in Southern California before returning to theatre at Brigham Young University, where she earned a master's degree in theatre history and criticism in 2012. Deleah has presented at the Mid-America Theatre Conference and served in various capacities for ASTR's Graduate Student Caucus during her time at BYU. At Tufts, Deleah plans to continue focusing on her research interests, which include Samuel Beckett, Modern Irish Theatre, and Irish Cinema.
Peter Spearman
Peter Spearman is a first year MA student from Charleston, SC. In 2015 he received his BA in English and Theatre Performance from the College of Charleston. He has presented research at the International Conference on Romanticism on Lord Byron and disability in The Deformed Transformed. He has also spent the last two years in arts management as part of a group called Pop-Up Charleston where he organized Pop-Up concerts all over the city. In 2015 he participated in the College of Charleston's Spoleto Festival series, Stelle di Domini, as an actor in Keith Huff's A Steady Rain and as a director for Arthur Miller's The Crucible. His research interests include Romanticism, disability studies, and reading graphic novels as drama.
Katie Swimm
Katie Swimm is a PhD Candidate currently writing her dissertation, "Theatre of the Mind: Towards A Dialogue between Mental Health and Theatrical Practice in Nineteenth-Century Britain." Her work examines performances of madness in the broader context of nineteenth-century medical discourse. Her other academic interests include British theatre in the Regency and Victorian Eras, religion in performance (particularly American Spiritualism and Evangelicalism), the performance of science, and musical theatre. Katie has taught courses in Acting at Tufts and Public Speaking at Dean College. This fall, she will teach The History of Mental Illness on Stage and Screen at the Tufts Experimental College as a Robyn Gittleman Graduate Teaching Fellow and a course in Performance Studies at Dean College. She works as a Graduate Writing and Public Speaking consultant for the Academic Resource Center and was a fellow at the Tufts Graduate Institute for Teaching in the Summer and Fall of 2015. Katie also works as an actor and director in the Boston area. She earned her MA in Literature from Northwestern University, and a BFA in Theatre Performance/BA in English from Niagara University.
Catherine (Katya) Vrtis
Catherine (Katya) Vrtis is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Drama and Dance at Tufts University. Her dissertation, "Black, White, and Red: The Radical Drama of Langston Hughes," considers the writer's plays from his first, Mulatto, to the last written before World War II, the six short plays in the Limitations of Life set. She is interested in the history of radical thought in America, the form and function of propaganda, Russian drama, and the early 20th century artistic avant garde. In 2010 she received the Tufts Graduate School Summer Initiative for Doctoral Studies in the Humanities fellowship to support her dissertation research.
Tara-Brooke Watkins
Tara Brooke Watkins is a third year PhD student. She holds an MA from Emerson College and a BA from Eastern Nazarene College. Her master’s thesis on the performance art of Robbie McCauley, "Her Body as Voice," received the Emerson College Graduate Award and she has gone on to present at the ATHE conference on the work of McCauley and recently directed her in a revival of her award-winning play Sugar. With a special interest in seeking out the connections between hidden histories and current trends within a community, Tara combines her theatre research with ethnography. Past research projects include: the evangelical response to Salem’s Halloween carnival, Cambodian genocide survivors and descendents' performance in the Lowell Angkor Dance Company, and, currently, the untold tale of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921.

A practicing director and playwright, Tara's original ethnographic play The Bible Women's Project was recently accepted to the New York International Fringe Festival. She also owns and operates South Shore School of Theatre, a theatre school for children in Quincy, MA. She currently acts as the artistic director at Eastern Nazarene College.

Her research interests include finding intersections between community history, African-American drama and performance, religion, August Strindberg, and sexuality.
Irina Yakubovskaya
Irina Yakubovskaya is a PhD candidate working on her dissertation on Il'khom theatre of Mark Weil, the first global theatre company in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia. Currently, Irina teaches various acting and interdisciplinary humanities courses. Originally from Saratov, Russia, she studied French, Spanish, literature, translation, pedagogy, and culture with a B.A., from Saratov State University. After working in student theatre, television, film, magazines, and translation, she continued her academic career. Irina received her M.A. in French, Literature, Cultures and Theatre from Colorado State University in 2012. Since 2010, she has been a member of the Centre de la Francophonie des Amériques, and also participated in the First World Congress of French Language. Her research interests include cognitive sciences in theatre education, Acting techniques, Russian theatre, La Belle Époque, issues of translation and adaptation, and interdisciplinary global theatre.