Shilarna Stokes is a theatre/performance scholar and director. Her research explores how mass spectacles, festivals, pageants, and other large-scale performance events shape the politics of public space, spectatorship and collective identity. Her interest in nineteenth- and twentieth-century theatre and performance is informed by theoretical engagements with the fields of performance studies, cultural studies, postcolonial studies, and sociology.
Her current book project, “Playing the Crowd: Mass Pageantry in Europe and the United States,” examines large-scale political pageants performed during the first half of the twentieth century in England, the United States. Russia and Germany. In its early stages, her research was supported by a year-long Dissertation Fellowship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW). She has presented papers at numerous conferences including the American Association of Theatre Research, the Association for Theatre in HIgher Education (ATHE) and the International Federation of Theatre Research. Three of her conference papers have won awards from ATHE-sponsored organizations: the American Theatre and Drama Society, the Performance Studies Focus Group and the Theory & Criticism Focus Group.
As a director she has worked on new plays and musicals with companies throughout the New York and Boston areas. A few of these include Fuente by Cusi Cram (Cherry Lane), Paint it Black by Mark Victor Olsen (Soho Rep), Life, Love and EBITDA by Anuvab Pal (Epic Theater), Joan and Michael at Cisco Beach by Kirsten Greenidge (Boston Theatre Works), and Raisins Not Virgins by Sharbari Ahmed (Lark Play Development Center). She has directed new versions of older or already published plays including Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, August Strindberg’s Ghost Sonata, Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, Philip Barry’s The Philadelphia Story and George F. Walker’s Escape from Happiness, as well as adaptations of works by Tennessee Williams, Graham Greene, Blaise Cendrars, Anton Chekhov and Gao Xingjian. She has been a Guest Director at Yale, Hampshire College, Fordham and SUNY-Brockport and has received residencies and fellowships from Second Stage Theatre, Williamstown Theater Festival, the Ontological-Hysteric Theatre, the Women's Project, Geva Theatre, and the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers.
Since coming to Ohio State in 2013, she has taught undergraduate courses such as Censorship and Performance, International Theatre and Performance and Introduction to Theatre as well as graduate seminars including Advanced Directing, Modernism and Mass Entertainment, and Mass Theatre and Performance. In Spring 2016 she will direct the department’s production of The Coast of Illyria by Dorothy Parker and Ross Evans in a new adaptation by fellow faculty member, Jennifer Schlueter.