LaRonika Thomas is a doctoral candidate developing a theory of civic dramaturgy for her dissertation on performances of urban planning, cultural space and cultural policy, and the role of art and culture in 21st century Chicago. Her other research interests include online archiving and databases in the new play world, and technology and performance. She is also a Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre at Loyola University Maryland for the 2017-2018 year.
LaRonika also serves as the Electronic Communications Chair for Association for Theatre in Higher Education’s (ATHE) Dramaturgy Focus Group (DFG). For the past six years she was the Vice President for Regional Activity for Literary Managers & Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA), and she served as the graduate representative for the American Theatre and Drama Society (ATDS) and ATHE’s DFG for two years.
A professional dramaturg, producer, and writer, LaRonika worked in arts education, literary management, and dramaturgy in Chicago and in the Baltimore/DC area before returning to school for her doctorate. She has worked in various capacities with the Goodman Theatre, the Public Theater, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Center Stage, The Playwright’s Center, The Neo-Futurists, and Writers’ Theatre, among others. Her work has been funded by LMDA, the University of Maryland, and the City of Chicago. Her chapter, “Digital Dramaturgy and Digital Dramaturgs” is included in the recently-released volume, The Routledge Companion to Dramaturgy. She was the 2016 recipient of the ATDS Graduate Student Travel Award for her paper “Toward a Civic Dramaturgy: Performances of Urban Planning in Chicago from Daniel Burnham to Theaster Gates.”
She has taught courses at Loyola University, Towson University, Purdue University, Indiana University, and the Community College of Baltimore County. LaRonika served as the TA for a variety of TDPS courses at the University of Maryland, and was the instructor of record for the foundational theatre history course for theatre majors for four consecutive semesters.
Education & Training:
- MA in Theatre, with honors, Purdue University
- BA in Anthropology and Theatre, with honors, Indiana University
- Vice President of Regional Activity, Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA)
- Graduate Student Representative, American Theatre & Drama Society (ATDS)
- Electronic Communications Co-Chair, Dramaturgy Focus Group, Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE)
- American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR)
- Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Cultural Association (MAPACA)
Selected Production Work:
Source Festival, Washington D.C.
Associate Producer, Full-Length Plays, 2011
Stage Left Theatre, Chicago, IL
365 Days / 365 Plays by Suzan-Lori Parks, 2007
Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago, IL
Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare, dir. Barbara Gaines, 2005
Representative Publications & Research Activities:
The Routledge Companion to Dramaturgy:
- Chapter Contributor, “Digital Dramaturgy and Digital Dramaturgs,” 2014.
Verge: Studies in Global Asias:
- Collaborative Book Review of Kinestheitc Cities: Dance and Movement in Chinese Urban Spaces by SanSan Kwan, 2016.
Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE):
- Presenter, “The Spectacular City: Performance, Planning, and the Entertainment Machines of Chicago, Baltimore, and Las Vegas,” Panel Title: Spectacles of Space: World’s Fairs, Storefront Theatre, and Global Destinations in Urban America, 2017.
- Presenter, “Water in the Desert: Labor, Landscape, and Memory,” Panel Title: Dramaturgies of the Las Vegas Experience: Visiting Small Planets, 2017
- Organizer, Dramaturgy Focus Group Pre-Conference, 2016.
- Panel Co-Chair and Presenter, “Toward a Civic Dramaturgy: Performances of Urban Planning in Chicago from Daniel Burnham to Theaster Gates,” Panel Title: A City of Labor and Leisure: Chicago Theatre as History and Chicago History as Theatre, 2016.
- Panel Chair and Moderator, “Dramaturging [in] Chicago: A Discussion of Theatre, Labor, and History with the City’s Dramaturgs
- Panel Coordinator and Presenter, “Dramaturging the Foundational Theatre History Course,” Panel Title: Dramaturgy Pedagogy and Dramaturging Pedagogy: Remembering and Reconsidering Theatre in the Classroom,” 2015.
- Presenter, “[RE]BUILD / [RE]SCRIPT / [RE]PURPOSE: The Spatial Imaginary and Performance of Domestic Place-Making in the Work of Theaster Gates,” Panel Title: The Family Dream House: Re-Dreaming Home in Performance, 2014.
- Panel Chair and Presenter, “Chicago’s Affair with Culture: (Cultural) Space, (Cultural) Planning, and (Civic) Performance in Chicago,” Panel Title: P[L]AYing Spaces: Cultural Production and the Dramaturgy of Urban Space, 2013.
- Respondent, “Dramaturgy and Advocacy,” 2012.
- Panelist, “Dramaturging the Hell House Kit,” 2012.
- Panelist, “Staging Strife and Solidarity: Black-Jewish Relations on the American Stage,” 2012.
- Debut Poster Paper Presenter, “Dangerous Liaisons: The Relationship between Theatre Companies and Gentrification,” 2003.
Association for Theatre Research (ASTR):
- Presenter, “From Town Hall to Facebook Wall: Media, Cultural Planning, and the Performance of Chicago,” Working Group Title: Technology Performs: New Media Onstage and Off, 2014.
Mid-America Theatre Conference (MATC):
- Panelist, “No Little Plans: Lefebvre’s Spatial Triad, Social Drama, and the Performance of Chicago on Navy Pier,” Panel Title: Chi-Town and Its Visions: In Honor of Gus Sponberg and the Chicago Theatre History Project, 2014.
Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA):
- Convener, “Dramaturg as Producer/Producer as Dramaturg,” 2011.
- LMDA University Caucus SourceBook, Volume Four, “The Exhibit of Degenerate Art for Fellow Travellers at Stage Left Theatre,” 2011.
- Panel Chair, “Advanced Freelancing,” 2009.
Landscapes: Performing Space and Culture Conference, University of Illinois:
- Presenter, “An Introduction to Space and Performance in the Two Chicago Cultural Plans and the Chicago Cultural Center,” 2013.
Mid-America Arts and Popular Culture Association (MAPACA):
- Presenter, “The Play (within the Episode)’s the Thing: Historicized Performance as Narrative Device in Film and Television,” 2016.
- Presenter, “There is a Name for That: Digital Storytelling, Digital Communities, and the Embodied Phenomenon of ASMR,” 2015.
- Presenter, “Destination Culture: The Performance of Urban Planning and the Art-Washing of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and Chicago’s Navy Pier,” 2014.
Chicago Theatre Symposium:
- Co-Convener, with Richard Pettengill, “Chicagoturgy,” 2011
Honors & Awards:
ATDS Graduate Student Travel Award, 2016.
ATDS Graduate Student Professional Development Pre-Conference Fellow, 2016.
TDPS Travel Grant, University of Maryland, 2017, 2016, 2014.
ARHU Travel Grant, University of Maryland, 2017, 2014.
Finalist, Heideman Award, Actors Theatre of Louisville, 2012
Whip Mix Playwriting Fellowship, Mary Anderson Center, 2008
CAAP Grant, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, 2008, 2007, 2006
Dramaturgy Residency Grant, LMDA, 2005
National Finalist, ACTF Critic’s Competition, The Kennedy Center, 2003