Associate Professor | Chair of M.A./Ph.D. Program
PhD, University of Southern California
Specialties: Theatre History, American Theatre, Dramaturgy
Professor Davis is a theatre historian with specialties in early American theatre, Restoration theatre and Eighteenth Century cultural history. His research interests include the economic and social influences of theatre in addition to First Amendment and censorship issues related to live performance. His articles and reviews are found in the leading theatre journals, including,Theatre Survey, Theatre History Studies, Journal of American Drama and Theatre, Modern Drama, Theatre Research International, Restoration & 18th Century Studies, Journal of American History and Theatre Journal. He was a major contributor to the Cambridge History of American Theatre(1999), winner of the Barnard Hewitt Award from the American Society for Theatre Research and the Special Jury Award of the Theatre Library Association. He also contributed major essays toThe American Stage, Engle and Miller, eds. (Cambridge), The Cambridge Guide to American Theatre, Wilmeth, ed. andInventing Times Square, Taylor, ed. (Russell Sage Foundation). His book, From Androboros to the First Amendment: A Cultural and Political History of America’s First Play, is to be published by the University of Iowa Press in 2009.
Additionally, Professor Davis has worked as a professional actor and dramaturg with a number of award-winning, Chicago-based companies including Remy Bumppo, Defiant, Strawdog, Writer’s Theatre, and Steppenwolf. In the summer of 2007, Professor Davis performed, as Jeff Perry’s understudy, in the world premiere of the Tony Award-winning production of August: Osage County at Steppenwolf in Chicago. Awards include the 2006 revival of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man with Remy Bumppo (After Dark Award for Best Ensemble, Jeff Nomination for Best Ensemble) and The Philadelphia Story (2008 Jeff Nomination for Best Production), also with Remy Bumppo. He served as the resident dramaturg at Remy Bumppo Theatre Company from 2004 to 2008, and was the dramaturg for Sonia Flew at Steppenwolf in 2006 and for The Turn of the Screw at Writer’s Theatre in 2007. As a director, he has worked on dozens of productions, winning both regional and national awards from the American College Theatre Festival. In 1985, his production of Excursion Fare was performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. as the ACTF recipient of Best Original Play. He also won the ACTF’s Best Director of the Year award from Region IX. He is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, Literary Managers and Dramaturgs Association, and The Society for Stage Directors and Choreographers.
Professor Davis attended Bowdoin College, Stanford University and the University of Southern California, where he received an M.A. in Drama (Directing) in 1977 and a Ph.D. in Communication (Drama) in 1981. Before his arrival in Urbana in 1991, Professor Davis served on the theatre faculties at the University of Oregon and Tufts University, teaching a wide range of courses from beginning acting to playwriting to theatre history. From 1981 to 1987 he was the head of directing program at Oregon and served as department chair from 1986-87. He also served as head of the MA/PhD Program in Theatre at the U of I from 1998 to 2007.