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.
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
- An exploration of the disciplinary apparatus of suicide and grief through an original play and production, Reedy Point. Grace Leathrum '12, theater and politics.
- A study of playwriting, production, and scene design focusing on themes of intimacy and violence culminating in an original play and production, Short Walks Down the Only Road There Is. Logan Smith '12, theater and visual arts.
- An original script and production, The Muse, exploring social predation and betrayal. Katherine Trahan '12, theater.
- A semester of research on the performance traditions of Japan, in preparation for field study during a Freeman Foundation-funded trip to Japan in May 2010. Sarah Verbil '11, Elizabeth Hull '11, Mercedes Lake '12 and Anna Knecht '11.
- An examination of the history and use of race as a thematic device on the American stage, culminating in a production of Rebecca Gilman's play, Spinning into Butter. Simon Moody '10, theater.
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
- "Passing Strange." Chronic Illness: The Borderlands between Health and Illness conference. Oxford, England, September 2011.
- "Performing Pain." Interdisciplinary meeting, Probing Boundaries, Making Sense of Pain. Warsaw, May 2011.
- "That's Entertainment: Representations of disability in pop culture." University of Central Lancashire, England, 2010.
- "Disciplines and Interdisciplinary Study: Our Achilles Heel." Consortium for Innovative Environments in Learning and Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2009.
- "Sara Kane's Blasted Logic of Space." Cambridge, England, 2008.
- "21st-Century Liberal Education: A Contested Concept." Kentucky, 2008.
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 –