Taking the Stage

Earlier this year, Jennifer Parker-Starbuck joined the editorial team at Theatre Journal as Co-Editor. The Head of Department, Drama, Theatre and Performance and a Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Roehampton, her work focuses on the historical and theoretical implications of new media/multimedia and its relationship to the body in performance. She joined us in a Q&A to talk about her position and what the journal means to her field.

What do you hope to bring to the editorial team of Theatre Journal?

I am honored to be a part of Theatre Journal, a journal that has significantly shaped my own understanding of the field. During my time as Editor I hope to maintain the rigor and research that have always marked this journal while encouraging authors to submit essays that are infused with urgency and passion - for the field, for specialty topics, for the state of the world today as reflected through the history and present state of theatrical inquiry.  It is a transitional time for print publication and we are currently working to develop a supplemental digital platform for the journal. I am also committed to further broadening the journal’s international reach, and curating and encouraging a wide range of global scholars.   

You talk about this role helping you return to the mindset of a student. How are you using that to your advantage?

The March issue was my first issue as Co-Editor and I was pleasantly surprised at how excited I was to engage with such a wide range of topics.  As I read and edited these essays I was reminded of how much I enjoyed being exposed to the histories of theatre and their intersection with theory and critical thinking as a PhD student.  I feel very grateful for the highly rigorous PhD training I received at the CUNY Graduate Center which has prepared me to approach all aspects of theatre history and theory with curiosity and enthusiasm!  

What can journals like Theatre Journal do for the large community of theatre beyond what people see from pop culture, like Hamilton.

Theatre Journal and others like it in the field offer spaces for scholars to think in depth about historical, theoretical, and practical aspects of theatre and performance. These are often spaces where the larger community of theatre from directors, actors, and dramaturgs might turn to when researching their productions whether classical drama or new contemporary productions.  Journals vary, there are some that specialize in reviews of productions, so that focus on training and pedagogy, others that focus on dramatic plays. There is something for everyone out there. Many journals are also spaces for investigations into what has come before - the popular culture of the past is frequently an area of historical study so I suspect there will be plenty of scholarship around musicals like Hamilton in the future!

What advice do you have for people looking to submit to Theatre Journal?

My advice to scholars is to really know the journal you hope to publish in, whether Theatre Journal or another in the field. Read the journal and see what kind of material is included. Try to tailor your essay to the journal - so for Theatre Journal we are looking for in-depth original research and ideas that take the field to new places. We tend not to publish pieces based solely on one play or production, and we also tend not to focus on more practical aspects of technique such as acting methodology or training. That said, essays in Theatre Journal cover a wide range of contend and approach - my advice is to read it and see! Whether deeply historical or advancing new theories about the state of theatre and performance, we look for rigorous and timely innovative research that has an analytical and historical foundation.  I am also always looking for work that shows an enthusiasm or passion for the topic at stake that is transmitted to the reader.