Nicosia Shakes is Assistant Professor in The Department of Africana Studies at The College of Wooster, Ohio. She earned her PhD in Africana Studies from Brown University in 2017. Her research focuses on race, gender and sexuality in theater and performance, particularly how theatre serves as an integral component in activism around gender justice. Shakes’ book manuscript is titled, Gender, Race and Performance Space: Women’s Activism in Jamaican and South African Theatre. It is the winner of the National Women’s Studies Association/University of Illinois Press First Book Prize 2017 and under contract with the University of Illinois Press. The book examines the critical interventions being made by theater collectives formed and operated by women of African descent – in particular, their ontological engagements around sexual and reproductive rights. Their work allows us to understand the links between feminist thought and feminist practice through performance as well as the impact of activism on aesthetic formations among African and African-descended people. It is an expansion of her dissertation, “Africana Women’s Theatre as Activism: A Study of Sistren Theatre Collective, Jamaica and The Mothertongue Project, South Africa.” This dissertation received the 2017 Joukowsky Family Foundation Outstanding Dissertation Award (Humanities) from Brown University, and the Marie J. Langlois Prize for an Outstanding Dissertation in the area of feminist studies from the Pembroke Center, Brown University.
Afiba and Her Daughters, her first full-length play, was produced in 2016 by Rites and Reason Theatre in Providence and is in pre-production for October 2018 at The Phillip Sherlock Centre for the Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica. It is the first in a series called, The Afiba Cycle, in which Shakes represents Jamaican women’s pasts and presents using traditional and new methods of storytelling. Read about it in her blog