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Jessica Brater

Associate Professor, Theatre and Dance

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Dr. Brater’s research aims to bring attention to art, artists, and audience communities, especially women, who have been underrepresented historically by theatre critics and scholars. Her work emphasizes the relationship between theatrical performance and social and political engagement.

Her book, RUTH MALECZECH AT MABOU MINES: WOMAN'S WORK, was published by Methuen Drama in 2016. Chapters on Mabou Mines appear in WOMEN, COLLECTIVE CREATION, AND DEVISED PERFORMANCE and in CONTEMPORARY APPROACHES TO ADAPTATION IN PERFORMANCE, both published by Palgrave Macmillan. Other writing has appeared in publications including AUJOURD'HUI/SAMUEL BECKETT TODAY and THEATRE JOURNAL. Recent publications include chapters and articles in the CAMBRIDGE COMPANION TO AMERICAN THEATRE since 1945, AMERICAN THEATRE ENSEMBLES 1970-1995, and THE JOURNAL OF AMERICAN DRAMA & THEATRE. Forthcoming publications include "Nora, Lucia, and Lear: Gender and Performance at Mabou Mines" for ANALYZING GENDER IN PERFORMANCE (Palsgrave MacMillan) and a chapter on Lee Breuer for the new series GREAT NORTH AMERICAN STAGE DIRECTORS (Methuen Drama).

Brater is the founding Artistic Director of Polybe + Seats ( Over the company’s fifteen-year history, they have partnered with other Brooklyn cultural organizations including the Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92, the Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge, and the Old Stone House to create socially engaged work. Most recently, Brater directed Sarah Badiyah Sakaan’s THE ART OF HIJAB, KOHL BLACK, AND THE RIGHT WAY TO PRAY, a new play that explores Muslim feminist identity. The project was supported by a 2014-16 residency at LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, several Creative Space grants from ART/NY, and a grant from the Brooklyn Arts Council. The production was presented at the Bay Ridge Brooklyn Public Library and in a performance residency at the Obie-award winning gallery FiveMyles in partnership with the Arab American Association of New York.

Recent directing work includes FLORIDA! by Amanda Sage Comerford for Luna Stage’s NEA-granted Voting Writes project in 2020 and a protest performance as part of a demonstration against mistreatment of incarcerated immigrants at the Essex County Correctional Facility on the steps of the Newark Hall of Records in 2019. She was the recipient of a Loving Leadership award from Faith in New Jersey for her advocacy work in 2019.

Brater’s teaching encourages students to map connections between theater literature, history, and theory and their own stage practice, challenging them to excel both intellectually and creatively and to examine connections between the performative and the political.

She is the program coordinator for the BA and MA in Theatre Studies and the Graduate Certificate in Theatre of Diversity, Inclusion & Social Change. She served as a 2018-2020 Community Engaged Teaching and Learning Fellow, served on the University Senate from 2018-2021, and is the current vice chair of the Graduate Council. Brater holds a Ph.D. from the CUNY Graduate Center and a B.A. from Barnard College.