Markus Wessendorf, PhD

Chair, Dept. of Theatre & Dance

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

1770 East-West Road

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 areas of specialization are in experimental and avant-garde theatre, performance studies and theatre theory, and 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, Hilary Mantel, Richard Maxwell, Victoria Nālani Kneubuhl, Neil LaBute, Norman Price, Mark Ravenhill, Edward Sakamoto, Adriano Shaplin, Christopher Shinn, Ungunstraum, The Wooster Group, and Craig Wright. In his writings, Wessendorf has covered a wide range of topics, from tourism to terrorism, masochism to Mohism, diaspora to deconstruction. He guest-edited the proceedings of the 13th symposium of the International Brecht Society on "Brecht in/and Asia" (which he organized at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in 2010) for the international Brecht Yearbook 36. He is currently the main editor of The Brecht Yearbook.

From 1992 to 1997 Wessendorf 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 theatre as an adjunct professor at various theatre, German, and cultural Studies departments in New York City (New York University, Queens College, Marymount Manhattan College). From October to December 1991 he studied the classical Indian dance form Kathakali with Prof. Govindan Kutty at Kalamandalam Kolkata. 

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]. His translation of Brecht’s The Judith of Shimoda was first staged at Kennedy Theatre in April 2010, and then again at New York's LaMaMa Experimental Theatre in May 2012. In July 2015 he organized a symposium on "Dramaturgies of Surveillance: Edward Snowden, the Security State, and the Theatre" at Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany, and in March 2017 the devised theatre project Smile, You're Under Surveillance! was performed at Kennedy Theatre. In August 2017 he directed scenes from Brecht's Fear and Misery of the Third Reich with students of the Deutsche Sommerschule am Pazifik in Portland, Oregon. He was also the production dramaturg on Peiling Kao's dance-theatre work Integral Bodies, which premiered at Kennedy Theatre in April 2019. 

Selected Publications  

"Brecht's Ethics." Brecht in Context. Ed. Stephen Brockmann. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020. (Forthcoming.)

The Brecht Yearbook 44. Managing editor: Markus Wessendorf. Published by the International Brecht Society. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2019. 275 pages.

Introduction and translation of Bertolt Brecht's The Judith of Shimoda. Brecht and the Writer's Workshop: Fatzer and Other Dramatic Projects. Ed. Tom Kuhn and Charlotte Ryland. London and New York: Bloomsbury-Methuen, 2019, 293-372.

"Kritik und Kreativität im devised theatre (= Critique and Creativity in Devised Theatre)." Theater als Kritik: Theorie, Geschichte und Praktiken der Ent-Unterwerfung (= Theatre as Critique: Theory, History, and Practices of De-subjugation). Eds. Olivia Ebert, Eva Holling, Nikolaus Müller-Schöll, Philipp Schulte, Bernhard Siebert, and Gerald Siegmund. Bielefeld: transcript, 2018, 297-306.

The Brecht Yearbook 43. Managing editor: Markus Wessendorf. Published by the International Brecht Society. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2018. 335 pages.

"A Brechtian Reinterpretation of Thomas Cromwell: Hilary Mantel's Novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies." The Brecht Yearbook 43 [2018]: 230-247.

Review of Rustom Bharucha's Terror and Performance. Journal for Contemporary Drama in English 4.2 [2016]: 444-447.

"Brecht's Materialist Ethics between Confucianism and Mohism." Philosophy East and West 66.1 [2016]: 122-145.

Review of Annemarie Matzke's Arbeit am Theater: Eine Diskursgeschichte der Probe (= Theatre Work: A History of the Discourse on Stage Rehearsals). The Brecht Yearbook 39: The Creative Spectator [2016]: 326-329.

"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.

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. 407 pages.

"'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." 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." 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: [2004]: 84-96.

Review of Martin Puchner’s Stage Fright: Modernism, Anti-Theatricality, and Drama. The Brecht Yearbook 29: [2004]: 427-430.

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

"'I'll Shine in the Backyard. Bright Like a Beacon.'" Introduction. Barking Dogs. By Norman Price. Brisbane: Playlab, 2002. 4-14.

"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 pages.

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 pages.

"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. 



"Introduction to Rainer Werner 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).