Megan Lewis (1968-) is a South African-American theatre historian and performance scholar.
She was born and raised in Johannesburg and later emigrated to the United States, where she attained her BA from Kenyon College, an MA from Johns Hopkins University, and a PhD from the University of Minnesota.
Lewis taught theatre, popular media, and film courses as a Visiting Professor in the Department of Theatre Arts & Dance at the University of Minnesota from 2006-2011. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Theater at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she teaches theatre and performance studies courses in the Dramaturgy program, graduate level seminars in performance theory and World Theatre, General Education introductory courses on African media and drama, and serves as the Graduate Program Director for the Department of Theater at UMass.
In 2015 she was awarded the university-wide Distinguished Teaching Award.
She has balanced her scholarly life with a professional career as a documentary filmmaker and editor, and voiceover talent. She directed the 2014 documentary film, Devising Gilgamesh: Collage theatre-making with Theatre Novi Most. She also recorded a two-part Theatre History audio lecture series: All the World’s a Stage: A History of the Theatre (2013) and Politics & Performance: Theatre in the 20th century (2014).
Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance
Trained as a Theatre Historian, she works broadly in Theatre Studies, Performance Studies, and Film Studies with a focus on African theatre and performance, specifically South Africa. Drawing on the complexities of her experience as a transnational citizen, her teaching interests are broadly concerned with imaginings, depictions, and performances of “Africa” both within and outside of the continent. Her research focuses specifically on South African theatrical work and other performance(s) ranging across a diverse array of media, including film, dance, and theatre and across multiple performance sites, including monuments, museum installations, public pageants, traditional staged texts, documentary and narrative film.
Her work explores the stakes of race and performance, particularly the ways in which whiteness and performance intersect. She is also interested in devised theatre-making and physical theatre.
Lewis has published extensively on South African performance in Theatre Journal, Performing Arts Journal, Text and Performance, Theatre Topics, and The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism.
Her books on South African theatre and performance include Performing Whitely in the Postcolony: Afrikaners in South African Theatrical and Public Life (University of Iowa Press, 2016), an analysis of the intersections of whiteness, masculinity, and national identity, and Magnet Theatre: Three Decades of Making Space - co-edited with Anton Krueger (Intellect Ltd., 2016), an in-depth chronicle of the life of one of South Africa’s most vital physical theatre companies. She is the commissioned editor of a South African collection called Imagined Theatres, a companion piece to Daniel Sacks’ Imagined Theatres: Writing for a Theoretical Stage (Routledge, 2017). Lewis has two new projects in the works: one about safari and/as performance and another on theaters of dissent.
Every summer, she leads students on an intensive study abroad program, called Arts & Culture in South Africa, focused around the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. See theatreinafrica.weebly.com
Personal correspondence from Megan Lewis, 27 April 2017.
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