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Meadows Professor Rhonda Blair Receives American Society for Theatre Research 2019 Distinguished Scholar Award

Award presented to scholar whose body of work has made a significant contribution to theatre, dance, opera, and/or performance studies

Rhonda Blair

Rhonda Blair - SMU Theatre

If you were to look at a Venn diagram of Professor Rhonda Blair’s theatrical life, the left circle would say “performance practice,” the right circle “performance theory,” and the intersecting middle would be packed with words such as “research,” “cognitive science,” “papers,” “professor,” “actor,” “academic activist,” “keynote speaker” and more. Blair has been immersed in all aspects of theatre since earning her Ph.D. in theatre and drama from the University of Kansas in the early 1980s. Since then, between acting on stage, directing, writing articles and books and teaching scores of theatre students both graduate and undergraduate, Blair has also served on the boards of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, the Women & Theatre Program and the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR), the latter of which recognized her as their 2019 Distinguished Scholar during ASTR’s annual conference, held Nov. 7–10 in Arlington, Virginia.

Since 1982, the ASTR has presented the Distinguished Scholar Award to a scholar whose body of work has made a significant contribution to the field of theatre, dance, opera, and/or performance studies. Blair, a professor at SMU Meadows since 1995, is in esteemed company: Past recipients of the Distinguished Scholar Award include Elinor Fuchs, professor emerita, Yale School of Drama (2018); Joseph Roach, professor emeritus, Yale Theater Studies (2003); Marvin Carlson, distinguished professor, The Graduate Center, CUNY (2001); and Oscar Brockett (d. 2010), theatre historian, author and professor, University of Texas at Austin (1995).

Winners of the award are determined by the three immediately previous Distinguished Scholar Award winners. Blair’s award was determined by the above-mentioned Elinor Fuchs of Yale; Sandra Richards, professor emerita, Northwestern University; and Susan Bennett, professor, University of Calgary.

Blair, who was the first to publish a monograph on applications of cognitive science research to acting (The Actor, Image, and Action: Acting and Cognitive Science, Routledge 2008), says her work has never separated theory from artistic practice or from teaching. “It's always been holistic,” said Blair. “I’ve worked at the intersection of performance practice and performance theory–often centered in feminism and gender–since the beginning and, most significant for the past couple of decades, applications of research in cognitive sciences to acting, directing, text analysis, and teaching.”

Read more about Dr. Rhonda Blair and the SMU Meadows Division of Theatre.

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