Assistant Professor of Africana Studies

Overview

LISA L. BIGGS, Ph.D., is an actress, playwright, and performance studies scholar. At Brown University, she serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Africana Studies/Rites and Reason Theatre.  

As an artist and scholar, Dr. Biggs’s interests include Carceral Studies, Transnational Black Feminist Activism, Black Theatre and Expressive Culture, Performance Studies, Theatre for Social Change, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Critical Performance Ethnography.

Her current scholarship investigates the role of the arts in movements for social justice. Her monograph, Black Feminist Theatre for Incarcerated Women, records and theorizes the impact of theatre programs in the U.S. and in South Africa for women behind bars, and is under contract with the Ohio State University Press (anticipated in 2019).

After earning a B.A. in Theatre and Dance at Amherst College (1993), Dr. Biggs worked for more than a decade as a professional actress. Her stage credits include productions at the Kennedy Center, African Continuum Theatre, ETA Creative Arts Foundation, Lookingglass Theatre, Arena Stage, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre. From 1999-2001, Dr. Biggs was a teaching artist at the Living Stage Theatre Company, the groundbreaking arts and community-engagement initiative at Arena Stage in Washington, DC. In 2004, Dr. Biggs returned to graduate school and earned an M.A. in Performance Studies and Playwriting at New York University’s Gallatin School (2007) and a Ph.D. in Performance Studies at Northwestern University (2013). Prior to joining the Brown faculty, she worked as an Assistant Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at Michigan State University in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (2013-2018).

Dr. Biggs is the author of several original plays that reflect her passion for using theatre and performance studies to unpack history, including Blackbirds, Butterfly Belongings, Vigilante Artist and Memory is a Body of Water (with Tanisha Christie). She toured her most recent solo performance work, Where Spirit Rides, about nineteenth-century women abolitionists, across the United States including performances at Cultural Odyssey, Links Hall, Shadowbox Theatre, and the National Black Theatre Festival. In 2016, she was awarded a Knight Foundation Detroit Arts Challenge grant to develop and present a new stage play about women and girls in the ’67 Detroit rebellion. AFTER/LIFE premiered in Detroit in July 2017 in conjunction with city-wide events commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the ’67 uprising.

In addition to her creative work, Dr. Biggs’s scholarship has been published in The Conversation, Theatre Survey, and in the award-winning edited anthologies Solo/Black/Woman: Scripts, Interviews, Essays (2013) and Black Acting Methods: Critical Inquires (2016).

Her work has been supported by grants and fellowships from the State of Illinois’s Diversifying Higher Education Faculty Initiative, Illinois Humanities Council, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Michigan Humanities Council, Northwestern University, Michigan State University, and the Humanities Without Walls Consortium/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

B.A. Theatre and Dance, Amherst College (1993)

M.A., Playwriting and Performance Studies, New York University's Gallatin School (2007)

Ph.D., Performance Studies, Northwestern University (2013)

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

On the Web