Sarah Bay-Cheng

Chair and Professor of Theater and Dance

Teaching this semester

DANC 1750/THTR 1750. Technical Production

Exposes performance arts students to the technical production process for theater and dance performance and serves as a complementary course to Theater 1700: Performance in Production (.5 credit). Students observe and engage with several areas of production through supervised participation in one departmental production, either theater or dance. Students are introduced to all dimensions of technical production, including lighting, set, sound, media, costume design and creation, stage management, and technical direction, among others. Following this overview, students serve as production assistants for a specific production. They attend regular rehearsals and participate in the collaborative creation process. Tasks may also include dramaturgical research, assistant directing, and other support as determined to best benefit the student and their specific goals. Students are very much a part of the production team and are expected to follow professional codes of conduct within the production. The course may be taken on any show, but students in 1750 may not perform in the show associated with the course. This course requirement may be waived by students who are either already engaged in work study in the department, or the requirement can be met by students through an approved and supervised independent sutdy (Theater or Dance 2970/4000) in an area of technical production or design. Because of the limited resources available, this course is available to majors only.

THTR 1504. Theater as Social Media

Introduces students to the history of theater and performance as paradoxically both a social art and form of media. The course begins with American playwright Anne Washburn's futuristic play, “Mr. Burns,” and analyzes contemporary media as forms of cultural performance. From the contemporary moment, the course then traces the effects observed in contemporary theater, dance, and media through diverse global performance histories, noting the ways in which theater and dance changed in different cultural contexts and observing the changing emphases on written texts (drama) and performance techniques, including changes in acting, directing, and design. Does not assume any prior knowledge or experience in either theater or media studies. Students are not required to use social media as part of the course. Students have the opportunity to create original work, as well as analyzing existing material.

THTR 1700. Performance in Production

The collaborative performance of a full-length work with a professional director either on faculty or visiting as a guest artist. The production is produced by the Department and performed for the public. Areas of concentration include rehearsal and performance of roles as part of a fully-produced production with a creative team over approximately 120 concentrated hours through the Fall or Spring semesters. Students gain admission to Theater 1700 through audition. Rehearsals may fall outside of traditional class hours. Grading is Credit/D/Fail. One-half credit. May be repeated a maximum of four times for credit, earning a maximum of two credits.

Teaching next semester

CINE 1007/ENGL 1011/THTR 1007. Performance and Theory in James Bond

Introduces students to performance theory, critical analysis, and cultural studies through diverse works related to the fictional British spy character, James Bond. Considers selected Bond films, Ian Fleming’s novels, and other works related to the iconic series including parodies and spoofs (e.g., Austin Powers), advertising, and games, among others. A weekly group screening is encouraged, but students also have the opportunity to view required films individually. Writing assignments include performance and media analysis, critical reviews, and essays based on original research.

DANC 1500/THTR 1500. The Art of Performance

What is performance? Today it seems as if nearly everything performs: from cars and computers to actors and athletes. Explores the many meanings of performance, particularly art forms such as theater, dance, and media, as well as actions and behaviors in everyday life such as political speeches, rituals, and celebrations. Explores the performing arts as “twice-behaved behavior”—that is, repeatable, embodied activities across both the performing arts and more broadly within culture. Studieswhat defines performance and also askshow we might use approaches to performance as interpretive lenses. Balances this focus on theory with practice via performance attendance and watching films as well as attending nontheatrical events in order to examine them “as performance.” Finally, in order to explore performance as a distinct epistemology or “way of knowing,” students participate in movement workshops in addition to making a culminating performance.

DANC 4040/THTR 4040. Studio

An advanced theater seminar focusing on independent work. Advanced students creating capstone projects in playwriting, directing, acting, and design meet weekly as a group to critique, discuss, and present their work. Final performances are given at the end of the semester.

Sarah Bay-Cheng is Chair and Professor of Theater and Dance, where she teaches theater history and theory, dramatic literature, and digital media performance.  Her research focuses on the intersections among performance and media including histories of cinema, social media, and computer technology in contemporary performance. Recent publications include Performance and Media: Taxonomies for a Changing Field (2015) and Mapping Intermediality in Performance (2010) as well as essays in Theatre Journal, TheaterContemporary Theatre Review, and Performance Research, among others. Her current projects explore digital history and performance, and the history of experimental theatre. Bay-Cheng frequently lectures internationally and in 2015 was a Fulbright Visiting Scholar in the Department of Media and Cultural Studies at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. She edits the book series Avant-Gardes in Performance (Palgrave) and is an associate editor for the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, the International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media, and Contemporary Theatre Review. Previously, she served on the governing boards of Performance Studies international and the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, and she currently administers the ASTR members group for Digital Research and Scholarship. Since 2016, Bay-Cheng can be heard monthly as a co-host for the podcast, On TAP (Theatre and Performance) with Pannill Camp and Harvey Young. She occasionally gets to work as a director and dramaturg with particular interest in intermedial collaborations and a fondness for puppetry. 

Mama Dada  Poets at Play  Mapping Intermediality  Performance and Media


  • Ph.D., Theater, University of Michigan, 2001
  • A.B., Theatre and Film Studies, magna cum laude, Wellesley College, 1996

PDF Curriculum Vitae

Personal Website

Research and Teaching

Current Research: Digital Historiography and Performance (book in progress)

Teaching Areas: theater history; digital media performance; American theater; performance studies

Research Interests: avant-garde literature, theater, and cinema; technology and performance; digital humanities; contemporary performance 

Recent Publications


S. Bay-Cheng, J. Parker-Starbuck, D.Z. Saltz. Performance and Media: Taxonomies for a Changing Field (University of Michigan Press, 2015).
S. Bay-Cheng, C. Kattenbelt, A. Lavender, R. Nelson, eds. Mapping Intermediality in Performance(Amsterdam University Press/University of Chicago Press, 2010).
S. Bay-Cheng and Barbara Cole, eds. Poets at Play: An Anthology of Modernist Drama (Susquehanna University Press, 2010).
S. Bay-Cheng. Mama Dada: Gertrude Stein’s Avant-Garde Theater (Routledge, 2004; pbk. 2005).


S. Bay-Cheng, "Pixelated Memories: Performance, Media, and Digital Technology" Contemporary Theatre Review 27.3 (2017): 324-339.
S. Bay-Cheng, "Digital Historiography and Performance" Theatre Journal 68.4 (December 2016): 507-527.
S. Bay-Cheng, “Unseen: Performance Criticism in an Age of Digital Recordings” Theater 46.2 (2016): 77-85.
S. Bay-Cheng, “Postmedia Performance” Interventions - Contemporary Theatre Review (May 2016).
S. Bay-Cheng, “Virtual Realisms: Dramatic Forays into the Future” Theatre Journal 67.4 (December 2015): 686-698.
S. Bay-Cheng, “Global Screen Shots,” PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art 37.1 (PAJ 109/January 2015): 56-63

In the News

Bowdoin Daily Sun, "Studying Fictional Spy James Bond through Lens of Critical Theory" [video] (January 2, 2017)

WCBS - San Francisco, commentary on Hamilton cast response to Vice-President Elect Mike Pence (November 21, 2016)

Academic Highlight, "How Digital Technologies Are Changing Our Relationship to History and Performance" [article] (September 16, 2016)