University of Wisconsin–Madison

Manon van de Water
Professor, Slavic

Languages: Russian, Dutch, German. Secondary Languages: French, Spanish

Research/Language Interests: Theatre for Youth, Russian Theatre and Culture, Dutch Theatre and Culture. Drama for Teaching and Learning, International Theatre for Young Audiences. The interaction of meaning and material conditions in theatre and performance.

Education: Doctoraal (old Style) Slavic Languages and Literature, Rijksuniversiteit Leiden, The Netherlands 1985; M.A. Theatre, Penn State University 1992; Ph.D. Theatre, with a Specialization in Theatre for Youth, Arizona State University,1996.

Affiliated Departments: Core Faculty Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies (ITS),  CREECA, European Studies, The International Division

Undergraduate Courses: Drama for Teaching and Learning, Service Learning class with Lab component; Advanced Drama for Teaching and Learning, Service Learning class with in-school internship component; Applied Theatre; Theatre for Young Audiences: Directing Production/Educational Outreach, Service Learning Class; History, Theory, and Literature in Theatre for Young Audiences;  Russian Culture and Performance; Russia: An Interdisciplinary Survey; Russian Theatre History

Graduate Courses: Seminar Contemporary Russian Theatre; Seminar Theatre, Culture, and Youth; Seminar Ideologies in Theatre for Youth; International Theatre for Young Audiences; Theories and Issues in Theatre for Young Audiences; Theatre as Therapy in Volatile Regions

About Me: I am the Vilas-Phipps Distinguished Achievement Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and currently serve as the Chair of the Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic.  I have a dual interest in Russian Studies and Theatre for Youth, and have been able to combine these two large areas of research during my studies and my career at UW-Madison. When I came to the United States in 1990 I enrolled in the Master’s program in Theatre at Penn State University. At the same time, I was offered a job as a lecturer in the Russian Studies Program. Ultimately I would teach Russian I, II, and III for the Department of Slavic and East European Languages at Penn State. At Arizona State, I wrote my dissertation on theatre for young audiences in Russia and the changes in the ideological and educational function with Glasnost and Perestroika. As I was a tour-guide to Eastern Europe and Russia from 1986 to 1989 I had the chance to observe these changes first hand, and this gave me the necessary background for on-site research for the dissertation. In 1997 I came to the University of Wisconsin – Madison as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre and Drama. I received a tenure track position the year after.  Much to my luck I was not only charged to revivify the dormant Theatre for Youth program as the Director of Theatre for Youth, but was also able to keep my Russian study skills alive through research and lecture opportunities with CREECA, the Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia, and by teaching cross-listed courses like Russian Theatre History in Slavic.  Thus, I was uniquely able to maintain a rather unlikely research track. This research has led to a number of publication but also to invitations to workshops and lectures, among others in Moscow, Rostov on-the-Don, St. Petersburg, Balashikha, as well as Beijing, Buenos Aires, Worcester, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Bologna, and Linz among other places.

In 2006 I was invited to Kristiansand, Norway, with seven other scholars from seven different countries to discuss the place of research in Theatre for Young Audiences in our respective nations and cultures. This led to the creation of ITYARN, the International Theatre for Young Audiences Research Network, of which I was chair until 2014. ITYARN rapidly grew, presented at and co-organized several forums, conferences, and symposia and published a number of volumes coming out of these events. In 2011 ITYARN became the official Research Network of ASSITEJ, the International Association of Theatre for Children and Youth, with membership and national centers in over 100 countries. In 2014, I became the first researcher to serve as a member on the ASSITEJ Executive Committee (15 persons from 15 different countries).

At UW-Madison I have been the recipient of three Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment Grants; two 3-year grants for expanding Theatre for Young Audiences beyond University Theater and one seeding grant to introduce theatre and performance in the Oakhill Correctional Institute. When possible I still volunteer to give theatre and drama to the inmates of Oakhill as part of the Oakhill Prison Humanities Project.

My current research project is a monograph on Nataliia Sats (1903-1993), who has been a major force in the creation of Theatre for Children and Youth as we know it today.

Selected Publications


A. Monographs

Theatre, Youth, and Culture: A Critical and Historical Exploration. Monograph. Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History, Don B. Wilmeth, Series Editor.  New York: Palgrave, 2012. (Winner 2013 AATE Distinguished Book Award).

Moscow Theatres for Young People: A Cultural History of Ideological Coercion and Artistic Innovation, 1917-2000.  Monograph. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, April 2006.

Dutch Theatre for Children: Three Contemporary Plays. Editor, author, translator. Charlottesville: New Plays Inc., 2008; Woodstock: Dramatic Publishing, 2009.

B. Text book

Drama and Education: Performance Methodologies for Teaching and Learning.

College and University Textbook with Kristin Hunt and Mary McAvoy. New York: Routledge, 2015. (Chinese translation in process)

C. Scholarly editions

Youth Theatre Journal Vol. 27.2, 2013. “Art Meets Research” Special Issue. Editor with prof. dr. Geesche Wartemann, University of Hildesheim.

TYA, Culture, Society:  International Essays on Theatre for Young Audiences. A Publication of ASSITEJ and ITYARN.  Editor with foreword. Series “Kinder-, Schul- und Jugendtheater - Beiträge zu Theorie und Praxis” Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2012.

Translated as: Teatro para públicos jóvenes: Perspectivas internationales. Otto Minera, translator. Mexico: Ediciones El Milagro/Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, 2012

Youth Theatre Journal  Vol. 23.1, 2009. ITYARN issue.  Includes Editorial.

Youth Theatre Journal Vol. 21, 2007.

Youth Theatre Journal Vol. 17, 2003.  Ideology issue. Includes Editorial.

D. Scholarly peer-reviewed articles and book chapters

Natalia Sats: Life and Work (Russian Theatre in Practice: A Handbook for Directors, Editor Amy Skinner, Bloomsbury 2017. (forthcoming)

Genrietta Yanovskaya. (Russian Theatre in Practice: A Handbook  for Directors, Editor Amy Skinner, Bloomsbury 2017. (forthcoming)

Technology, Pop Culture, and The Classics, or: What and Why for Whom? In TYA and Perceptions of the Contemporary Child:  International Essays in Theatre for Young Audiences. Eds. Geesche Wartemann, Tulin Saglam and Mary McAvoy. Series “Medien und Theater.” Hildesheim, Zürich, New York: Georg Olms Verlag, 2015.

Lightness in a Culture of Fear. Icaro 2 (2015). Bologna, Italy. Also published in Italian: La Leggerezza in una cultura della paura. Icaro 2 (2015) Bologna, Italy. Italian version.

Raising the Soviet Citizen: Natalia Sats's Revolutionary Theatre for Children and Youth in Soviet Russia, 1917-1932. In Nationalism and Youth in Theatre and Performance. Victoria Pettersen-Lantz and Angie Sweigart-Gallagher, eds. Routledge, 2014.

Framing Children's Theatre: Historiography, Material Context, and Cultural Perception. Key Concepts in Theatre Drama Education.  Ed. Shifra Schonmann. Amsterdam: Sense, 2010.

TYA as Cultural Production: Aesthetics, Meaning and Material Conditions. Youth Theatre Journal  23.1 2009.

Gay and Lesbian Theatre for Young People, or, The Representation of “Troubled Youth.”  With Annie Giannini. Essay in We Will Be Citizens: New Essays on Gay and Lesbian Theatre. James Fisher Ed. McFarland & Company, 2008.

Living on the Edge: Memory, Material Circumstances, and Perception in the Theatre of Kama Ginkas.  Modern Drama 47.1 (Spring 2004): 133-148.

Der Kampf zwischen Kunst und Pädagogik: Zur historischen Rolle und ideologischen Funktion des Theaters für junge Zuschauer. Trans. Gerd Taube.  Kinder- und Jugendtheater in Russland. Wolfgang Schneider and Gerd Taube, eds. Tübingen: Gunter Narr, 2003. 2-22.

E. Encyclopedia entries

Efremov, Oleg Nikolaevich. The Supplement to The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian, Soviet, and Eurasian History. Vol 7. Edited by Bruce F. Adams. Academic International Press, 2008

Efros, Anatoly Vassilevich. The Supplement to The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian, Soviet, and
Eurasian History. Vol 7. Edited by Bruce F. Adams. Academic International Press. 2008

Children's Theatre, Seattle Children's Theatre, Aurand Harris plus updates. Cambridge Guide to
American Theatre Don B. Wilmeth, ed. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2007.

Central Children's Theatre. The Supplement to The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian, Soviet, and
Eurasian History. Vol 5. Edited by Bruce F. Adams. Academic International Press.

Children's Theatre. The Supplement to The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian, Soviet, and Eurasian History. Vol. 6 Edited by Bruce F. Adams. Academic International Press.