Stephen Anthony Di Benedetto
BiographyDr. Di Benedetto received his Ph.D. from Goldsmiths College, University of London with a dissertation entitled, Playwriting as a Visual Art: A study of contemporary English-speaking dramaturgy using the works of five playwrights trained as fine artists. He holds an MA in Theatre History from the University of Michigan, and a BFA in Theatre Studies from The Theatre School, DePaul University. Dr. Di Benedetto has held teaching positions at the University of Houston; the Drama Studies Centre, University College Dublin, National University of Ireland; and DePaul University. He is an active member of the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR), the International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR), and Performance Studies International (PSI). Among his other professional affiliations he was a convener of the Scenography Working group of the International Federation for Theatre Research, an artist board member of DiverseWorks Art House in Houston, a theatre critic for Houston Free Press and Irish Theatre Magazine, worked as a dramaturg at such places as Infernal Bridegroom Productions and The Connecticut Repertory Theatre, and former Book Review Editor (North America), for Theatre Research International.
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
My current research questions whether playful theatrical experience has a function. If the behavioral sciences can show that the play has an evolutionary function and a critical function in our physical and social engagement with the world, can performance studies show that fictive play is critical in our development since it offers safe, low consequence engagement with dangerous events and emotionally scaring experiences? In other words, by encountering the Oresteia in performance I have a safe way to engage with horrifying acts and experience potential models of how to deal with turmoil or war. These plays are a form of play that gives their attendants experience to cope with future unexpected life events. If this is true then theatre and performance are critical to society and perform a valuable function for a healthy society.