Markus Wessendorf, PhD


Dept. of Theatre and Dance

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

1770 East-West Rd.

Honolulu, HI 96822


Office: Sakamaki Hall A404

Phone: (808) 956-2600  Email:






PhD in Applied Theatre Studies [1996]

Institute of Applied Theatre Studies, Justus-Liebig University Giessen (Germany). Dissertation on “The Stage as a Scene of Thinking: Richard Foreman’s Ontological Hysteric Theatre.”


Diploma in Applied Theatre Studies [1991]

Institute of Applied Theatre Studies, Justus-Liebig University Giessen (Germany). Thesis on ”The Deconstructionist Aesthetics of The Wooster Group.”






Markus Wessendorf’s research and teaching areas are in Modern Drama and Postdramatic Theatre, Performance Studies and Intercultural Performance, Dramaturgy and Devised Theatre. He has written several articles and a monograph about Richard Foreman’s Ontological-Hysteric Theatre, but he has also published essays on Ron Athey, Bertolt Brecht, William Forsythe, David Greig, David Hare, Richard Maxwell, Victoria Nālani Kneubuhl, Neil LaBute, Norman Price, Mark Ravenhill, Edward Sakamoto, Adriano Shaplin, Christopher Shinn, The Wooster Group, Craig Wright and various German performance artists. In his writings, Wessendorf has covered a wide range of topics, from tourism to terrorism, masochism to Mohism, diaspora to deconstruction. He is also the co-editor of the proceedings of the 13th symposium of the International Brecht Society on “Brecht in/and Asia” (a conference at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in 2010, of which he was also the main organizer).


From October to December 1991 Wessendorf studied the classical Indian dance form Kathakali with Prof. Govindan Kutty at Kalamandalam Kolkata. From 1992 to 1997 he was assistant professor at the Institute of Applied Theatre Studies at Justus-Liebig University Giessen (Germany). In 1998 he was a guest scholar at the University of Queensland in Brisbane (Australia), where he worked on a DAAD-funded post-doc project on "cultural transactions between Asian theatre and contemporary Australian performance." From 1999 to 2001 he taught as an Adjunct Professor at various Theatre, German and Cultural Studies departments in New York City (New York University, Queens College, Marymount Manhattan College). Since 2001 he has been a faculty member of the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. As the "Hölderlin Guest Professor for General and Comparative Dramaturgy" at the Institute for Theatre, Film and Media Studies at Goethe University Frankfurt in summer 2015 Wessendorf organized a symposium on "Dramaturgies of Surveillance: Edward Snowden, the Security State and the Theatre," a topic that is also the main focus of his current research.

Markus Wessendorf has also worked as a theatre director internationally. In 1989 he directed the American premiere of Heiner Müller's Germania Death In Berlin at ABC No Rio in New York. In 1998 he staged Barking Dogs by Australian playwright Norman Price for Brisbane's Metro Arts Theatre. He also presented Cynthia Farrar's Curdom at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2000. At Kennedy Theatre in Honolulu he has directed Friedrich Schiller’s The Robbers [2003], the first American production of Laurent Gaudé’s Battle of Will [2005], Will Eno’s Thom Pain (Based on Nothing) [2006], Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot [2010], and Uncle Vanya and Zombies “by Anton Chekhov and Markus Wessendorf” [2012]. He has also translated Brecht’s The Judith of Shimoda into English and worked as a dramaturge on Zisan Ugurlu’s production of that play at La MaMa ETC in New York in 2012.



Selected Publications


“Brecht’s Materialist Ethics between Confucianism and Mohism.” Philosophy East and West 66:1 [2016]: 122-145.




“David Greig’s The American Pilot (2005) and Earlier Dramatizations of Political Hostage Takings.” Journal for Contemporary Drama in English 3.1 [2015]: 93-109.


“Zombie Walks and Zombie Economics.” Journal for Contemporary Drama in English 1.1 [2013]: 92-102.


Review of Martin Puchner's The Drama of Ideas: Platonic Provocations in Theater and Philosophy. Modern Philology 111.1, August 2013.


The Brecht Yearbook 36: Brecht in/and Asia. Guest editor: Markus Wessendorf; managing editor: Friedemann Weidauer. Published by the International Brecht Society. Distributor: University of Wisconsin Press, 2011.


“’Fear and Misery’ Post-9/11: Mark Ravenhill’s Shoot/Get Treasure/ Repeat.” The Brecht Yearbook 36: Brecht in/and Asia. 2011. 336-351.


“Suggestions for an Ethics and Aesthetics of Post-9/11 Performance in Don DeLillo's Falling Man.” Subjekt: Theater. Beiträge zur analytischen Theatralität. Festschrift für Helga Finter zum 65. Geburtstag. Eds. Gerald Siegmund and Petra Bolte-Picker. Frankfurt a. M.: Peter Lang, 2011. 179-186.


“Terrorist Violence and Its (Dis)Figurations in Three American Post-9/11 Plays.” Violence in American Theatre and Drama. Eds. Bernardo Muñoz and Ramón Espejo Romero. Jefferson/NC: McFarland, 2011. 239-249.


“Postmodern Drama Post-9/11: Adriano Shaplin’s Pugilist Specialist and David Hare’s Stuff Happens.” Drama and/after Postmodernism. (Contemporary Drama in English 14.) Eds. Christoph Henke and Martin Middeke. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag, 2007. 325-346.


“Richard Maxwells postdramatiske teater (= Richard Maxwell’s Postdramatic Theatre).” Norsk Shakespeare—og teatertidsskrift (Oslo) 1/2006: 29-33.


“Culture of Fear: Uncomfortable Transactions between Performance and Terrorism.” International Journal of the Humanities 3.3 [2006]: 217-228.


“Contemporary Drama in Hawaiʻi: Representations of Displacement and Diaspora in Edward Sakamoto’s Obake and Victoria Nālani Kneubuhl’s Ola Nā Iwi,” in Staging Displacement, Exile, and Diaspora. (Contemporary Drama in English 12.) Ed. Anja Müller-Muth and Christoph Houswitschka. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2005. 95-110.


“Theatre as an Allegory of Unreadability: The Wooster Group’s The Road to Immortality Part Three: Frank Dell’s The Temptation of Saint Antony,” in The Wooster Group and Its Traditions. Ed. Johan Callens. Brussels: Peter Lang/Presses Interuniversitaires Européennes (Series: “Dramaturgies: Texts, Cultures, and Performances”), 2004. 129-140.


“Mahagonny and the Tourist Gaze.” The Brecht Yearbook 29: Published by the International Brecht Society. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004. 84-96.


Review of Martin Puchner’s Stage Fright: Modernism, Anti-Theatricality, and Drama. The Brecht Yearbook 29: Published by the International Brecht Society. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004. 427-430.


“’I’ll Shine in the Backyard. Bright Like a Beacon.’” Introduction to Barking Dogs by Norman Price. Brisbane: Playlab, 2002. 4-14.


“The (Un)Settled Space of Richard Maxwell’s House.” Modern Drama 44:4 [2001]: 437-457.


“Ein Gespenst geht um in Foremans Theater – ‘Jetzt, da der Kommunismus tot ist’ (= A Spectre Haunts Foreman’s Theatre—‘Now That Communism Is Dead’).” Essay for the Vienna Festival 2001.


"Im Dickicht der Vorstädte: Richard Maxwells House und Showy Lady Slipper (= In the Jungle of the Suburbs: Richard Maxwell's House and Showy Lady Slipper).” Essay for the Vienna Festival 2000.


"Theater auf der Höhe der Medientechnik (= Theatre at the Height of Media Technology).” Medieninszenierungen im Wandel. Interdisziplinäre Zugänge. Eds. Rüdiger Ontrup and Christian Schicha. Münster: LIT, 1999. 38-49.


"Richard Maxwell, Hausmeister und Pausenwart (= Richard Maxwell, House Keeper and Break Supervisor).” Theater der Welt 1999 in Berlin: Arbeitsbuch. Ed. Joachim Fiebach. Berlin: Theater der Zeit/International Theatre Institut, 1999. 136-137.


"Richard Foreman's Hotel Fuck: Theatre at the Turn of the Century.” Interview. Theater der Welt 1999 in Berlin. Arbeitsbuch. 1999. 138-144.


"Richard Foreman's Theatrical Deconstruction of the Neo-Ritualistic Theatre of the Sixties." Anthropological Perspectives. (Contemporary Drama in English 5.) Eds. Werner Huber and Martin Middeke. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 1998. 121-129.


Die Bühne als Szene des Denkens: Richard Foremans Ontological-Hysteric Theatre (= The Stage as a Scene of Thinking: Richard Foreman's Ontological-Hysteric Theatre). Berlin: Alexander Verlag, 1998. 311 pp.


Gabriele Brandstetter, Helga Finter, and Markus Wessendorf, eds. Grenzgänge: Theater und die anderen Künste (= Crossing Boundaries: Theatre and the Other Arts). Tübingen: Narr, 1998. 393 pp.


“Szenen aus einem rauhen Leben. Die masochistische Performance-Ästhetik des Ron Athey (= Scenes from a Harsh Life. The Masochistic Performance Aesthetics of Ron Athey).” Theater der Zeit January/ February 1996: 22-25.


“Der implizite Medienbegriff in Bertolt Brechts Lehrstück Die Maßnahme (= The Implicit Media Theory of Bertolt Brecht’s Learning Play The Measures Taken).” Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik 85 [1992]: 150-158.




Other Texts


“Introduction to Rainer Werner Maria Fassbinder's The Marriage of Maria Braun.” Doris Duke Theatre, Honolulu Museum of Art [2012].




“The (Post-) Dramatic Language of Richard Maxwell.” Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) national meeting in New York [2003].


“Kabbalah and Gnosticism in Richard Foreman's Ontological-Hysteric Theatre.” Conference of the International Federation of Theatre Research (IFTR) in Tel Aviv [1996].


“Bodies in Pain: Towards a Masochistic Perception of Performance — The Work of Ron Athey and Bob Flanagan.” Conference of the International Federation of Theatre Research (IFTR) in Montréal [1995].




Radio Interviews


“Die geniale Stelle: Fahrstuhl zu 9/11. Markus Wessendorf über Heiner Müller's Der Auftrag (= The Ingenious Moment: Elevator to 9/11. Markus Wessendorf on Heiner Müller's The Mission).” Rang 1. Deutschlandradio Kultur. November 14, 2015.




“Das Theater und der Sicherheitsstaat. Markus Wessendorf im Gespräch mit Susanne Burkhardt (= The Theatre and the Security State. Markus Wessendorf in Conversation with Susanne Burkhardt).” Rang 1. Deutschlandradio Kultur. July 18, 2015.


“Zombies in der Gegenwartskultur: Überall Untote. Markus Wessendorf im Gespräch mit Max Oppel (= Zombies in Contemporary Culture: The Undead Everywhere).” Kompressor. Deutschlandradio Kultur. July 18, 2015.



Public Lectures


“Zombies im Theater: Eine dramaturgische Herausforderung (= Zombies on Stage: A Dramaturgical Challenge)." Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Frankfurt. June 23, 2015.