Queen's University

Dr. Jenn Stephenson

Associate Professor, Dan School of Drama and Music
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I am an Associate Professor in the Dan School of Drama and Music at Queen's University.  My principal areas of research interest are in contemporary Canadian drama, metatheatricality, "theatre of the real," autobiographical performance, and performativity in fictional worlds-within.


M.A. (English. University of Western Ontario)
M.F.A. (Theatre Design. University of Victoria)
Ph.D. (Drama. University of Toronto)


Tom Patterson Award, Stratford Festival (1996)
Clifford Leech Dissertation Prize from University of Toronto
Nominated for Governor General's Gold Medal for Ph.D. (2003)
Honourable Mention Richard Plant Essay Award, CATR (2007)
Drama Department Teaching Award (2004-05, 2008-09, and 2014-15)
Ann Saddlemyer Award, Canadian Association for Theatre Research (2013)
Nominated for Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching (2015)

Recent Articles

"Winning and/or Losing: The Perils and Products of Insecurity in Postdramatic Autobiographical Performance" Theatre Journal (forthcoming May 2016)

“Performativité utopique du corps autobiographique (de la marionette), ou Billy Twinkle: Requiem for a Golden Boy et la vraie nature de l’amour” Interactions fictionnelles et scéniques dans le solo contemporain. Ed. Gilbert David and Francis Ducharme. L’annuaire théâtral 59 (forthcoming Winter 2016).

"Uncertainty: A User's Guide." Foreword to Winners and Losers by James Long and Marcus Youssef. (TalonBooks: Vancouver, 2015).

“Here’s to Shutting Up: Lessons of the MU-koan in A Beautiful View” New Essays in Canadian Theatre: Daniel MacIvor. Ed. Richie Wilcox. (Toronto: Playwrights Canada, 2015): 89-108.

"A list of questions about how we ask questions: Some thoughts on KMb and Theatre" Theatre Research in Canada 35.2 (2014): 242-243.

"After the Apple: Post-lapsarian Realism in Garden//Suburbia -- an autobiographical site-specific work" New Canadian Realisms: New Essays on Canadian Theatre volume 2. Ed. Roberta Barker and Kim Solga. (Toronto: Playwrights Canada, 2012): 68-86.

"BIOBOXES: Artifacting Human Experience" introduction to playscripts. New Canadian Realisms: Eight Plays. Ed. Roberta Barker and Kim Solga (Toronto: Playwrights Canada, 2012): 128-133.

"The ICE Approach: Saving the World One Broken Toaster at a Time" co-authored with Grahame Renyk. Canadian Theatre Review 147 (Summer 2011).

Most Recent Project

The Conversation: In the post-truth era, documentary theatre searches for common ground

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With the onslaught of “alternative facts” or “fake news,” it can feel as though the ground has become almost liquid. One strategy to confront the ongoing public lies has been to embrace journalistic principles and aggressively fact check statements. Reality-based theatre is also inspired by this same desire, tapping into the contemporary zeitgeist for authenticity.

In Canada and the U.S., we have been experiencing a flourishing production of reality-based theatre (also called “documentary drama”). Sometimes, it takes the form of an autobiographical performance where the performer and the character are the same people. Other times, it is a verbatim theatre where playwrights cull the script from interview testimony and archival documents. Plays created by the Montréal-based company Porte Parole, led by playwright Annabel Soutar, are a great example of verbatim theatre.

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Other Projects

  • Performance Futures - Canadian Theatre Review

    In its scope of interest, Canadian Theatre Review is a forward-looking entity, concerned always with developments in performance in Canada, the writers attentive to trending theatrical events and perspectives that are innovative and cutting-edge. Each issue of Canadian Theatre Review is a report from where we are now. Immediately now. But thinking about the temporal situation of now inevitably entails awareness of how we got to now and speculation about where we go next. The recent Progress: International Festival of Performance and Ideas, presented by Toronto’s SummerWorks in partnership with the Theatre Centre, embodied a similar impulse. In a reflexive interview on the festival’s name, curator Michael Rubenfeld was asked to consider the question, “What is progress?”

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  • Performing Autobiography in Contemporary Canadian Drama

    In Performing Autobiography, current work in autobiography studies is linked to drama. The analysis engages with performance histories to demonstrate the extent to which the dramatic form, which recasts autobiography as ambiguously fictive, ensures that the experience of the plays remains open to revision, alteration, and interpretation. 

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  • Solo Performance Critical Perspectives on Canadian Theatre in English series

    Critical Perspectives on Canadian Theatre in English sets out to make the best critical and scholarly work in the field readily available. The series publishes the work of scholars and critics who have traced the coming-into-prominence of a vibrant theatrical community in English Canada.

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