Bio: James Beauregard Ashby recently defended his dissertation successfully (August 2015), thereby completing the PhD programme at the Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies. He is not only a scholar of puppet theatre, however; he is also a practitioner and an advocate. He is a cofounder and co-artistic director of Bricoteer Experiments Theatre (BET), which is largely a series of practical research experiments investigating ritual, spontaneity, and audience participation in the context of puppet theatre. Their work brings in nontraditional forms: most of their work has been in object theatre. They also regularly examine the boundaries between and blendings of puppetry and performance art. Ashby met the other half of BET, Grey Muldoon, when they both agreed to design and create puppets for a CDTPS production. A few years later, they collaborated with two other artists to create Home and Away, also produced by the CDTPS. A meditation on the emotional dimensions of migration that involved the use of autobiographical materials (personal objects) to devise and perform autobiographical material, this production marked both a new direction for performance research at the CDTPS and the beginnings of the always developing Bricoteer aesthetic and personal, antididactic activist perspective. Ashby is also the current president of the Ontario Puppetry Association, an organization in which he has held various leadership positions since 2006. He has initiated and overseen several projects over that time, including the (almost) annual Day of Puppetry at the Lillian H. Smith Branch of the Toronto Public Library. Finally, he is a sometime university instructor, most recently at the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture at Brock University. He has been published in Canadian Theatre Review and Puppetry International, and he helped to edit the entry for Canada in the forthcoming English translation of the World Encyclopedia of Puppetry Arts.

PhD Dissertation: “From the Inside Out, from the Outside In: Devising in Canadian Puppet Theatre”

Teaching and Research Interests:

  • Puppet Theatre
  • Devised Theatre
  • New Work Development
  • Practice-Based Research
  • English-Canadian Drama and Theatre
  • Theories of Drama and Performance
  • Popular Theatre Traditions
  • Mass Media and Popular Culture (Focus: Professional Wrestling)

For more information, have a look at my résumé.