About Me

Sukanya Thumbnail 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. I identify as an artist-scholar, and 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.

Many of my papers have also been selected for presentation at 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 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. In May 2013, I performed in a historical play, Noor: Empress of the Mughals, written and directed by Feisal Alkazi, which premiered in Brava Theater in San Francisco. I performed in Yoni ki Baat (March 2014), produced by Rangmanch – the South Asian theater group in Stanford. I have been trained in Indian Classical music and dance since my childhood, and I take special interest in Rabindranath Tagore’s songs, literary works and philosophies.

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. 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.

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Sukanya C.