John Emigh

Professor of Theatre, Speech & Dance:
Theatre, Speech & Dance
Phone: +1 401 863 2188
John_Emigh@Brown.EDU

John Emigh is a theatre director and performer who has written on the masked theatre and rituals of New Guinea, Bali, and India, as well as on Western theatrical practices. Works include Masked Performance: The Play of Self and Other in Ritual and Theatre, and a film on the life of a Rajasthani street performer. Current research involves linking the concerns of those who make and study performances with findings in neuro-science, and studying how performances function during times of crisis.

Biography

John Emigh is a professor in the Theatre, Speech and Dance and English Departments at Brown University, where he has been teaching and directing since 1967. He has directed more than 70 plays in universities and in the professional theatre. In 1974-75, he traveled in New Guinea, South Asia, and Indonesia, where he studied Balinese "topeng" masked dance with I Nyoman Kakul. Since then, he has made several other research trips to Asia, investigating the street jesters and court fools of Rajasthan, the use of masks in Eastern India, and the changing dynamics of performance in Bali. He has written extensively on the masked drama of New Guinea, Bali, and India as well as on contemporary theatre practice in the West and has made a film on the life of Hajari Bhand, a Rajasthani street performer and recently prepared a museum exhibit and international conference on the mask and concepts of person for the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts in New Delhi. His book, "Masked Performance: The Play of Self and Other in Ritual and Theatre", has recently been published by the University of Pennsylvania Press, and he is currently working on a book length study of the "Prahlada Nataka" - a devotional form of theatre in Orissa, India. Other current projects include investigating links between the traditional concerns of theatre and recent findings in the field of neuro-science and conducting research on the carnival and Christmas traditions of masked performance in Alpine Europe and Mexico. Articles currently in press deal with performing traditions, cultural models, and the killings that racked Bali in the mid-1960s, a recent Balinese adaptation of Macbeth in the style of Gambuh theatre, and the relation of Yankee gunmaker Samuel Colt's life to Bernard Shaw's "Major Barbara."

As a performer, Professor Emigh has acted with leading Balinese artists and has performed one-man shows based on Balinese mask techniques at schools, hospitals, universities, theatres, and festivals throughout the United states and in Bali and India, including The Performing Garage in NYC, The New Theatre Festival of Baltimore, the Indian National School for Drama, the Tibetan School of Drama, and the Balinese Academy for the Arts. His performances have been written about in "The Drama Review" and the "Asian Theatre Journal", as well as in various Asian journals.

He was the founding chairperson of the Association for Asian Performance and chaired Brown's Dept. of Theatre, Speech and Dance from 1987 to 1993. In 1971, he conceived and co-ordinated the RI Festival of New Theatre (the first festival to bring together the work of America's leading avant-garde groups of that period) and in 2005 was Artistic Director for the Performance Studies international's Providence, RI conference and festival: "Becoming Uncomfortable." He served on the steering committees for the founding of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education and of Performance Studies international and currently serves on PSi's executive board.

Interests

John Emigh is a professor in the Theatre, Speech, and Dance Department at Brown University, where he has been teaching and directing since 1967. He has directed more than 70 plays in universities and in the professional theatre. In 1974-75, he traveled in New Guinea, South Asia, and Indonesia, where he studied Balinese topeng masked dance with I Nyoman Kakul. Since then, he has made several other research trips to Asia, investigating the street jesters and court fools of Rajasthan, the use of masks in Eastern India, and the changing dynamics of performance in Bali. He was co-ordinator of the Rhode Island New Theatre Festival of 1971, was the founding chairperson of the Association for Asian Performance, chaired Brown's Dept. of Theatre, Speech and Dance from 1987 to 1993, and last year directed Performance Studies international's conference and festival: Becoming Uncomfortable.

As a scholar, he has written extensively on the masked theatre of New Guinea, Bali, and India, as well as on modern and contemporary theatre practice in the West, and has made a film on the life of Hajari Bhand, a Rajasthani street performer. His Masked Performance: The Play of Self and Other in Ritual and Theatre, is published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. He is a contributor to the recent book, Masks: Faces of Culture, put out by the St. Louis Art Museum, and is helping to prepare an interactive CD on the permanent collection of masks of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts in New Delhi. Other current research interests include linking the traditional concerns of those who make and study performances and recent findings in the field of neuro-science (a chapter on this subject is included in Teaching Performance Studies, University of Southern Illinois Press), and work on religious and secular theatre during times of crisis in India, Indonesia, Mexico, and Alpine Europe.

As a performer, he has acted with leading Balinese artists and has performed one-man shows based on Balinese mask techniques at schools, hospitals, universities, theatres, and festivals throughout the United States and in Bali and India, including The Performing Garage in New York City, The New Theatre Festival of Baltimore, the Indian National School for Drama, the Tibetan School of Drama, and the Balinese Academy for the Arts. His performances have been written about in The Drama Review and the Asian Theatre Journal, as well as in various Asian journals.

Awards

William Evans Visiting Fellow, Otago University of New Zealand, 2006

Asian Theatre Journal Scholar, Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) Conference, 2005

Barnard Hewitt Award, Honorable Mention, for Masked Performance, American Society for Theatre Research, 1997

Bronson Fellowship, awarded by the English Dept. of Brown University, 1974

New England Theatre Conference Regional Award for RI Festival: Theatre '71, first of the "New Theatre" Conferences, 1971

Production of Marat/Sade listed as "Best Production Outside of Boston" by Boston After Dark, 1969

Affiliations

Association for Theatre in Higher Education
Performance Studies international (on executive board)
Association for Asian Performance (founding Chairperson)

Funded Research

Saloman and Watson Foundation Grants from Brown University to study the relationship of the performing traditions of Bali to the killings of 1966, 2000-2002

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) grant for interactive interface for Mask Collection of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi, 1998

Travel Grant from the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi to co-orinate a mask collection and plan conference and exhibit, 1996

American Institute of Indian Studies (Fulbright) Grant for the study of the Prahlada Nataka of Orissa, India 1992

Indo-US Subcomission (Fulbright) and Smithsonian Institution Grants for the study of performance traditions in Orissa, Rajasthan, and Kashmir 1981-1983

American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Travel Grant to International Congress of Anthropology, New Delhi, 1979

Curriculum Vitae

Download John Emigh's Curriculum Vitae in PDF Format