A Conversation with Associate Professor Rashida Z. Shaw McMahon

Re-Evaluating the Ground on Which We(s) Stand(s): A Conversation with Associate Professor Rashida Z. Shaw McMahon

Monday, October 19, 2020 at 4:30pm

FREE! Pre-registration by Monday, October 19, 2020 at Noon required for access to this virtual event.

Assistant Professor of Theater Maria-Christina Oliveras will be in conversation with Associate Professor of English, Theater, and African American Studies Rashida Z. Shaw McMahon exploring the works of August Wilson, the multidisciplinarity of Black theater, and McMahon’s journey as an educator and Wesleyan alum (class of '99).

Inspired by August Wilson’s 1996 keynote address to the Theater Communications Group, The Ground on Which I Stand, this event is part of the series “Re-Evaluating the Ground on Which We(s) Stand(s),” amplifying voices of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) artists and engaging the community in conversations about the challenges of BIPOC theater in white spaces.

Co-sponsored by the Theater Department and the English Department.


Associate Professor of English, RASHIDA SHAW MCMAHON is originally from the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She is a Wesleyan alumna, class of ‘99, who majored in Theater (with a concentration in Acting) and Sociology. After Wesleyan, she attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois where she received her Ph.D. in Theatre and Drama. Her course offerings and research exemplify interdisciplinary methodologies and collaborative approaches towards examining: the dramatic and performance traditions of African Americans and the larger African Diaspora; American drama; American musical theatre; American and European theatre and performance histories; theatrical spectatorship; dramatic adaptations of poetry, novels, and historical fiction; and, the application of critical race theories, gender theories, sexuality theories, and popular culture theories to drama and performance. Her book, The Black Circuit: Race, Performance, and Spectatorship in Black Popular Theatre (Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, March 2020), examines “Chitlin Circuit” theatrical productions and the reception practices of African American spectators. Her current research projects include an investigation into the public exhibition of children from the Danish West Indies (referred to today as the United States Virgin Islands) in early twentieth century Denmark and an investigation into the hypervisibility of African American women characters within the plays of August Wilson.

Assistant Professor of Theater, MARIA-CHRISTINA OLIVERAS, is an actor, singer, and educator whose career spans theater, film, television and voice-overs. On Broadway, Maria-Christina originated the role of Gina in Amelie, and also appeared in Machinal and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. Off-Broadway credits include the world premieres of Here Lies Love by David Byrne and Fat Boy Slim (The Public; cast album), Pretty Filthy by Bess Wohl and Michael Friedman (The Civilians; cast album), Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (The Public), Romeo and Juliet (The Public), Zorba! (Encores), Taylor Mac’s 24 Hour History of Music (St. Ann’s Warehouse), among numerous others. Selected regional world premieres include Kiss My Aztec!, a new musical by John Leguizamo, Tony Taccone, Ben Velez and David Kamp (Berkeley Rep/La Jolla), Soft Power by Jeanine Tesori and David Henry Hwang (Center Theater Group), and El Huracan by Charise Castro Smith (Yale Rep). Film and television credits include St. Vincent, Manhattan Night, “The Blacklist,” “Madame Secretary,” and “Law & Order: SVU”. She received her B.A. from Yale University, and her M.F.A.in Acting from the National Theatre Conservatory.


View a broadcast below of the debate between playwright August Wilson and critic Robert Brustein over multiculturalism and the theater. The discussion is moderated by actress, playwright, and performance artist Anna Deavere Smith.

IMAGES (from left): August Wilson, Rashida Z. Shaw McMahon, and Maria-Christina Oliveras.