Marlboro College

Academics Brenda Foley - Theater

Contact Brenda Foley; 802-451-7554

A scholar with diverse and eclectic theatrical interests, Brenda Foley is as happy teaching Jacobean tragedy as she is rehearsing Tennessee Williams or Sarah Kane, or searching for the correspondences between female characters in 18th-century plays and the rhetoric of masking so prevalent onstage in that period. “Studying and practicing theater,” says Brenda, “gives us an extraordinarily visceral opportunity to experience human behavior from a perspective other than our own.” She has worked at a number of Equity theaters herself, including The Roundabout, La Jolla Playhouse, GeVa, Studio Arena, StageWest, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Florida Stage (where she won the 1994 Carbonell Award for Best Actress in Keely and Du) and Vienna’s English theater.

Teaching Philosophy

Performance theorist Alan Read’s contention, “theater begins from a point of coalescence, not polarity,” best articulates Brenda Foley ’s approach to the practice, study and teaching of theater. She has always been interested in how forms and performances intersect; convergence has become a recurring aspect of her scholarship and pedagogy.

For Brenda, teaching and scholarship are a logical extension of her work in the professional theater. “At Marlboro, I have the chance to share my belief that scholarship is a creative endeavor with smart and diligent students who embrace an interdisciplinary model of liberal arts education with a passion that equals my own," she says. "Together our interests find expression in wide-ranging courses that explore and interrogate the social practice of theater, in all its variations.”

Student Plans and Collaborations

Scholarly Activities

Brenda’s research areas of interest are performance studies, pop culture, feminism and performance, contemporary theater and disability studies. Her past scholarship includes a book, Undressed for Success: Beauty Contestants and Exotic Dancers as Merchants of Morality (Palgrave Macmillan: 2005), "The Masked Coquette: A Paradigm for the 18th-Century Stage" in Refiguring the Coquette (Bucknell U P 2008) and essays in journals such as Nordic Theater Studies and The National Women’s Studies Association Journal. Her current book project is Chaos Named: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary Theater.

Selected Conference Papers

B.A., University of Santa Clara, 1982; M.F.A., California Institute of the Arts, 1984; A.M., Brown University, 2000; Ph.D., Brown University, 2004; Marlboro College, 2007 –

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