Dr. Isaiah M. Wooden is a director-dramaturg and Assistant Professor of Performing Arts at American University (AU). He received his A.B. in Government from Georgetown University and earned his Ph.D. in Theater and Performance Studies at Stanford University.
A scholar of twentieth- and twenty-first century American drama and black expressive culture, Wooden has contributed articles, chapters, essays, reviews, and performative writing to Callaloo, Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, Theatre Journal, Theatre Topics, Theater, the anthologies August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle: Critical Perspectives on the Plays, Imagined Theaters: Writing for a Theoretical Stage, and The Routledge Companion to African American Theatre and Performance, as well as to The Huffington Post, The Feminist Wire, and PopMatters, among others. He is currently at work on a book-length study that explores the interplay of race and time in post-civil rights black expressive culture and is co-editing (with David Roman and Sharrell Luckett) an anthology on the expressive art of playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney.
The recipient of multiple grants and awards, including the DARE Doctoral Fellowship (2012-2014), the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship (2014-2015), and the Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship (2017-2018), Wooden has presented research at national and international conferences for the American Studies Association (ASA), Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), and Performance Studies International (PSi), among others, and has given talks at multiple colleges and universities--most recently, Swarthmore, University of Texas at Austin, William & Mary, Georgetown, and Yale. He previously served on the Executive Board of the Black Theater Association (BTA) and is currently the Performance Review Editor for Theatre Journal and a Contributing Editor to PAJ. He is also a member of the Advisory Committee for AU's Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars Program and sits on the Board of Directors of St. Ignatius Loyola Academy.
As a director, Wooden has staged new and canonical works in both the U.S. and abroad. Some favorite projects include: Argonautika by Mary Zimmerman, Big Love by Charles L. Mee, In the Red and Brown Water by Tarell Alvin McCraney, Insurrection: Holding History by Robert O’Hara, Dead Man’s Cell Phone by Sarah Ruhl, Bulrusher by Eisa Davis, and Beyond My Circle, the multidisciplinary performance project that he co-devised and presented at the National Theater in Kampala, Uganda. He enjoys teaching a range of courses in the history, theory, and practice of theater.