1st Edition

The Figure of the Monster in Global Theatre Further Readings on the Aesthetics of Disqualification

Edited By Michael Chemers, Analola Santana Copyright 2025
    254 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    254 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Bringing together international perspectives on the figure of the “monster” in performance, this edited collection builds on discussions in the fields of posthumanism, bioethics and performance studies. The collection aims to redefine “monstrosity” to describe the cultural processes by which certain identities or bodies are configured to be threateningly deviant, whether by race, gender, sexuality, nationality, immigration status, or physical or psychological extraordinariness.


    The book explores themes of race, white supremacy, and migration with the aim of investigating how the figure of the monster has been used to explore representations of race and identity. To these, we add discussions on gender, queer identities and how the figure of the “monster” has been used to explore the gendered body to finally understand how monstrosity intersects with contemporary issues of technology and the natural world. Navigating the fields of disability studies, performance-centered monster studies, and representation in performance, editors Michael Chemers and Analola Santana have brought together perspectives on the figure of the “monster” from across a variety of fields that intersect with performance studies.


    This book is essential reading for Theatre and Performance students of all levels as well as scholars. It will also be an enlightening text for those interested in monstrosity and Cultural Studies more broadly.

    List of Contributors


    Introduction: A Global Epistemology of the Monster in Performance


    Chapter 1. Gender and Performing a Spider Spirit in Jingju (Beijing Opera) Pansidong (Cave of the Silken Web) by Siyuan Liu


    Chapter 2. Yakshi - A Bizarre Double from South Asia by C.P. Seethal and M. Anudev


    Chapter 3. The Resignification of La Llorona in Mexican and Chicano Culture by Veronica Quezada


    Chapter 4. Spectral Monster/Haunting Presence: Decolonial Re-imaginings of Sycorax by Gabriela Trigo-McEntyre


    Chapter 5. Cuentos de la Tumbona: A Teatro-cabaret Tale of Trans Monstrosity and Resistance by Christina Baker


    Chapter 6. When is the Time of No More Deaths? Forced Migration, Untimely Ghosts, and the Sounds of Haunting Performance by Kristen Kolenz


    Chapter 7. Blood, Sweat, and Fears: The Values of Work and Community in the Haunting Profession by Elizabeth Kurtzman


    Chapter 8. The Ghost at the Top of the Stairs: Apparitions of Trauma and White Supremacy in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Appropriate by Heather Kelley


    Chapter 9. More than Monsters: Black Horror and the Whole Humanity of Her (1925) and Nope (2022) by Shadow Zimmerman


    Chapter 10. A Tale of Golem Democracy by Victoria Scrimer


    Chapter 11. ‘Something Coming to Eat the Whole World’: The monstrous nostalgia of Little Shop of Horrors by Stephen Cedars


    Chapter 12. The Ghosts of War: Trauma and the Supernatural by Amanda Dawson


    Chapter 13. ‘In the puppet or in the god’: Annie Baker’s John, Numinous Dread,

    and Unknowable Others by Scott Proudfit


    Chapter 14. Snap Chat Filters, Dissonant Cockatoos, and Total Blackouts: Conjuring Monsters in Australian Gothic Theatre by Miles O’Neil


    Chapter 15. The Wicked Witch of the Web: Technology and Monstrosity in The Builders Association’s Elements of Oz by Alexander Miller




    Michael M. Chemers is Professor and Chair of the Department of Performance, Play & Design at the University of California Santa Cruz, USA. He is the author of more than 70 peer-reviewed pieces (including seven books) on theatre history, theory, adaptation, and dramaturgy. Most relevant to this project, he is the author of Staging Stigma: A Critical Examination of the American Freak Show (Palgrave MacMillan, 2008), The Monster in Theatre History: This Thing of Darkness (Routledge, 2017), served as editor for a double issue of Disability Studies Quarterly on freak shows, and edited Alexander Iliev’s Towards a Theory of Mime (Routledge, 2014) and Luis Valdez’s Theatre of the Sphere: The Vibrant Being (Routledge, 2021).


    Analola Santana is Associate Professor in the Department of Theater at Dartmouth College, USA. She is the author of Teatro y Cultura de Masas: Encuentros y Debates (2010) and Freak Performances: Dissidence in Latin American Theatre (2018), which considers the significance of theatrical practices that use the "freak" as a medium to explore the continuing effects of colonialism on Latin American identity. She is also the co-editor of Theatre and Cartographies of Power: Repositioning the Latina/o Americas (2018) and Fifty Key Figures in Latinx and Latin American Theatre (Routledge, 2022). She works as a professional dramaturg and is a company member of Mexico’s famed Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes.