An Update from Theatre Alumna Donatella Galella

When institutional politics and the pressure to secure tenure bog me down, I try to remember how lucky I am to have landed a tenure-track position at UC-Riverside. I get to live near Los Angeles, teach public school students, and research at an R1. There is a non-zero chance that I’ll run into Survivor host Jeff Probst and tell him what he calls “the people on the street” are thinking. Then I remember that neoliberal capitalism wants me to feel grateful for my lot amidst precarious conditions because I’m “making it” when, really, I’m working tirelessly and playing a strong social game in Survivor to secure the million dollars—job security—in the end. Last season, all six women of color on the show were voted off within the first seven episodes.

But let me focus on some bright spots in sunny southern California. First, I have been helping to strengthen an Asian/American performance community at UCR. I launched a new course called Asian/American Theatre: Disorienting the Stage, which included a field trip to East West Players, the oldest theatre of color in the United States, and visits from special guests like star of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Vincent Rodriguez III. Partnering with the Asian Pacific Student Programs office, I had the opportunity to welcome other artists like Charlyne Yi, pictured here on the left. (She does voice acting for Steven Universe, my favorite television show, which takes me back to my original subject of graduate study: superhero musicals and queerness.) Last year, I worked with the tongue-in-cheek student troupe Model Minority to stage the first-ever full production of a play by an Asian American on campus, F.O.B. by David Henry Hwang. You can read about how this powerful play exploring generational divides and assimilation affected the student participants here.

And now I’m dramaturging an original children’s musical about a gender non-conforming East Asian superhero-princess based on a book by a colleague at UCR.

At the same time, I’m revising my book historicizing the first professional theatre of Washington, D.C., Arena Stage, and theorizing the intersections of capital, race, and nation. But before I returned to my dissertation, I took a “break” by writing other pieces. I have chapters to be published this year in The Sixties, Center Stage, The Palgrave Handbook of Musical Theatre Producers, and The Disney Musical on Stage and Screen. I wrote the chapter on the stage musical version of The Jungle Book with Graduate Center theatre scholars Stefanie A. Jones, Catherine Young, and Emily Clark, a powerhouse collaboration. Finally, my ATHE plenary speech on diversity will appear in Theatre Topics, and I’m eager to keep the conversations going on navigating structural oppression in the theatre and in the academy. I’m also happy to talk about Survivor.

Submitted on: APR 7, 2017

Category: Alumni News | Diversity | Theatre and Performance