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Michael Chemers

Associate Professor
Theater Arts

Michael Chemers was the founding Director of the Bachelor in Fine Arts Dramaturgy program at Carnegie Mellon University. He is the author of the 'Ghost Light' model of dramaturgy, a muscular, creatively engaged, artistically vibrant approach to dramaturgy that requires thorough historical understanding, theoretical training broad and deep, and a passionate dedication to creating powerful, relevant performances of all types.

His work on freak shows has appeared in Modern DramaThe New England Theatre JournalThe Journal of Nineteenth Century Theatre and FilmTheatre Forum, and Disability Studies Quarterly, for which he has also served as an editor. His work as a theatre historian and theorist has appeared in these journals, as well as in Theatre SurveyTheatre TopicsJournal of Theatre and Performance, and Comparative Drama. He has also written chapters for books on South Park and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Research Interests: 

Dramaturgy, theater history, criticism and theory, monsters in drama, adaptation and translation, digital media, social robotics, disability and the arts

Education and Training: 
2001 PhD, Theatre History and Theory, University of Washington
1997 MFA, Playwriting, Indiana University
Selected Publications: 


Ghost Light: An Introductory Handbook for Dramaturgy. Theatre in the Americas Series. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2010.

Staging Stigma: A Critical Examination of the American Freak Show. Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2008. Winner: ATHE Outstanding Book Award of 2009 (Hon. Ment.)

Published Plays

Lysistrata. with J.A. Ball. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2008.

The Inspector General. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2011.


"That Not-OK Feeling: Circus Contraption's THE GRAND AMERICAN TRAVELING DIME MUSEUM at the Theatre for the New City." TheatreForum International Theatre Journal n. 31 (Summer/Fall 2007), pp. 58-67.

"'With Your Shield, Or On It'; Disability Representation in 300." Disability Studies Quarterly, 27:3 (Summer 2007)

"Anti-Semitism, Surrogacy, and the Invocation of Mohammed in the Play of the Sacrement." Comparative Drama 41:1 (Spring 2007), pp. 25-55.

Selected Presentations: 

"Ghost Light Dramaturgy." University of Connecticut, 17 Feb 2011.

"Ghost Light Dramaturgy." Southern Appalachian University, Charleston NC, forthcoming.

"Ghost Light Dramaturgy." University of California at Santa Cruz, 16 Nov 2010.

"Phronesis: Re-concieving Dramaturgy as a Cultural Studies Discipline." Humanism Panel, Carnegie Mellon University, 7 April 2009.

Honors and Awards: 

2010   Ghost Light: An Introductory Handbook for Dramaturgy listed in "Significant University Press Titles for Undergraduates, 2009-2010." Choice, V.47, no. 09, May 2010.

2009  Association for Theater in Higher Education (ATHE) Outstanding Book Award, Honorable Mention, for Staging Sigma (Palgrave, 2008).

Office: 831-502-7571
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