Fernando Calzadilla Awarded Ph.D. from NYU's Theater and Performance Studies Program.

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Research by The PlayGround Theatre's Resident Artist, Fernando Calzadilla, examines scenarios of Venezuelan politics.

Since independence, Venezuela has been a republic on paper but a monarchy in practice.

Fernando Calzadilla, resident artist at The PlayGround Theatre in Miami, has successfully defended his performance studies Ph.D. dissertation at New York University, which has the country’s number one Ph.D. program in theater and performance studies, according to the National Research Council. Calzadilla’s Ph.D. was awarded this month, with a commencement ceremony on May 16 at Yankee Stadium in New York City.

The dissertation is titled Performing Citizenship Between the Monarchy and the Republic: The Scenarios of Venezuelan Politics. Calzadilla conducted his research under the direction of Diana Taylor, University Professor, founding director of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics.

“Public events can be viewed as performances designed to transmit cultural knowledge,” says Calzadilla. “Protests, political rallies and even sports events can be thought of as a kind of ‘social drama.’" The dissertation gives emphasis to understanding and explaining the context in which performances happen, and most importantly to understanding the history, traditions and previous performances that shape the present.

Calzadilla calls his dissertation both personal and social. He casts himself as both audience and witness, applying the Renaissance-era theatrical metaphor to the contemporary political scene in Venezuela. Calzadilla asserts that “since its independence, Venezuela has been a republic on paper but a monarchy in practice. There is a historical breach between the ways in which Venezuela has been constituted as republic and the ways in which its social actors perform competitive versions of citizenship, plunging the nation into disillusion because the contradiction manifests as broken promises.”

Calzadilla has won thirteen regional and national awards for his design work in Caracas, Venezuela including Best Costume Design for Salieri (2007) and Best Set Design for Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days (2008). He will continue his work at The PlayGround Theatre as dramaturg and designer.

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