Congratulations to LaRonika Thomas, PhD candidate in TDPS, who has been accepted into the 2017 Northwestern University Summer Institute in Performance Studies. She will participate in a 5-day workshop with Northwestern faculty, fellow graduate students, and Chicago theatre artists. After the workshops, she will conduct interviews with working artists in Chicago for her dissertation, Civic Dramaturgy: Cultural Space, Artistic Labor, and Performances of Urban Planning in 21st Century Chicago (working title).
The themes for this year's Summer Institute in Performance Studies--improvisation, narrative, and beauty--connect to LaRonika's work on "civic dramaturgy" to examine the intersections between performance and the socio-spatial dimensions of a city. In particular, her research questions how citizens "perform" the city of Chicago, and also how the city is a performance in itself through processes including urban planning, creative placemaking, and gentrification. She is also interested in the "ethics of beauty" as conceived by urban planners and artists. The artist-scholars that she will work with this summer will contribute to her "person-somatic" research approach to explore the ways in which performance is a way of knowing.
In addition, LaRonika has received a travel grant from the University of Maryland's College of Arts and Humanities (ARHU) to present two papers at this summer's conference of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) in Las Vegas. She has just completed work as a dramaturg for the Kennedy Center's American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) Undergraduate Playwright Festival.