Ah, whom can we ever turn to in our need?
Not angels, not humans, and already the knowing animals are aware
That we are not really at home in our interpreted world.
~Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies
Una Chaudhuri is Collegiate Professor and Professor of English, Drama, and Environmental Studies at New York University. She is the author of No Man’s Stage: A Semiotic Study of Jean Genet’s Plays, and the award-winning Staging Place: The Geography of Modern Drama, editor of Rachel’s Brain and Other Storms: The Performance Scripts of Rachel Rosenthal, and co-editor, with Elinor Fuchs, of Land/Scape/Theater.
Una Chaudhuri is a pioneer in the field of “eco-theatre”—plays and performances that engage with the subjects of ecology and environment—as well as the related field of ecocriticism, which studies art and literature from an ecological perspective. She helped launch both these fields when she guest-edited a special issue of Yale’s Theater journal on “Theatre and Ecology” in 1994. Her introduction to that issue, entitled “‘There must be a lot of fish in that lake’ Theorizing a Theatre Ecology,” is widely credited as a seminal contribution to the field. Professor Chaudhuri was also among the first scholars of drama and theatre to engage with another rapidly expanding new inter-disciplinary field, Animal Studies. She recently published books in both these fields: Animal Acts: Performing Species Today (co-Edited with Holly Hughes; University of Michigan Press, 2014), and The Ecocide Project: Research Theatre and Climate Change (co-authored with Shonni Enelow, Palgrave, 2014).
Over the past decade she has written and lectured widely on two concept she has theorized: “zooësis,” the discourse and representation of species in contemporary culture and performance, and “theatre of species,” dramaturgies beyond the human. A collection of her essays on these topics will be in 2017 published by Routledge, with the title The Stage Lives of Animals: Zooesis and Performance.
Besides her scholarly work on theatre, ecology, and animals, Chaudhuri participates in collaborative art and research projects, including the on-going multi-platform Dear Climate, which has been featured in an exhibitions in Dublin, New York (New York Public Library and Dumbo Art Festival), the Netherlands, Houston (Rice University), and won a Creative Climate Award from the Human Impacts Institute.