Dr Erika Hughes
I am a Reader in Performance in the School of Art, Design and Performance at the University of Portsmouth, where I also serve as Academic Lead for the Performance area. My work demonstrates the ongoing relevance of performance in a world of rapidly changing technologies and enduring racial, social, and economic inequalities.
My forthcoming monograph, Holocaust Memory and Youth Performance (Bloomsbury/Methuen Drama, 2022), offers the first critical analysis of youth-focused plays and performances about the Holocaust. Through an examination of works from around the world, including Germany, Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Poland, and Australia, Holocaust Memory and Youth Performance shows the critical role youth performance plays in coping with the legacy of historical tragedy. My next monograph, Making Mindful Performance, explores the ways in which mindfulness practice can be utilized to cultivate a healthier approach to theatre practice in the rehearsal studio, backstage, and onstage.
From 2019-2021 I worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon as a research dramaturg on the Audiences of the Future project, which explored how technology can expand the reach of performance to better engage with marginalized communities and those who had not experienced live theatre. As an experienced digital storyteller, I am currently facilitating a series of projects using arts-based methods to engage with diverse values in coastal communities in England, Wales, and Scotland, which is supported by the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council and Economic and Social Research Council.
My scholarship and practice research have been supported by grants from Innovate UK (in collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company), the US State Department (in collaboration with Kinnaird College for Women University in Lahore, Pakistan), and fellowships at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Free University of Berlin, the University of Bonn, the Technical University of Berlin, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
My work as a theatre director has been seen on stages in Germany, Israel, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Pakistan. I frequently work in non-traditional performance sites with major stakeholders. I directed the UK premiere of Finegan Kruckemeyer’s Boats aboard a WWI-era warship at the National Museum of the Royal Navy. I staged Scattering Salt in the Victorian-era prison underneath the Brighton Town Hall UK (starred review). My current play The Amazing Life of Margot Heuman is a work of documentary theatre, created together with historian Anna Hájková, is based on interview transcripts with Jewish lesbian Holocaust survivor Margot Heuman. The play premiered in 2021 at the Brighton Fringe Festival and is currently being screened through venues around the world including the Wiener Holocaust Library (UK), Carleton College (Canada), the GLBT Historical Society San Francisco (USA), and the University of Hamburg (Germany). To see a selection of images and videos of my performance work please see my portfolio at http://www.erikaehughes.com/performance.html.
For the last seven years I have led The Veterans Project and Odyssey Home, international performance-oral history research initiatives that uses technology and performance to foster dialogue among military veterans and the civilian communities in which they live. The Veterans Project and Odyssey Home have been performed multiple times in the US and UK, with veterans from the US Army, US Navy, US Marine Corps, US Air Force, Royal Army, and Royal Air Force. The veterans have served in conflicts ranging from Vietnam to Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Falkland Islands. For more information please see http://www.erikaehughes.com/the-veterans-project.html.
Prior to joining UP I was Assistant Professor of Theatre for Youth and Communities at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ, USA. I earned my PhD in Theatre and Drama from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2009 under the supervision of Robert Skloot and Manon van de Water. My articles and reviews have been published in a number of journals including Theatre Topics, Research in Drama Education, the Journal of European Studies, Performance Research, Youth Theatre Journal, the Brecht Yearbook, and Theatre Journal, as well as a number of edited volumes. In 2021 I co-edited a special issue of Youth Theatre Journal on sites of intergenerational performance, many of which were impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic. I have given keynote addresses at international conferences in the United States, Poland, and Pakistan. An experienced peer reviewer, I regularly referee for academic publishers and journals, and was a research awards juror for the American Alliance for Theatre and Education from 2012-2016.
I welcome supervision queries from postgaduate students who are interested in applied theatre, theatre and technology, digital storytelling, cultural diplomacy, historiography in/as performance, ethnography, German theatre and cultural studies, and the relationship between performance and geopolitical conflict.