Warren Kluber, PhD Candidate in Theatre

November 03, 2016
Warren Kluber

Where did you grow up?
Eugene, OR.

What drew you to your field?
I studied English in undergrad, while writing, directing, and acting in plays. Pursuing a PhD in Theatre has allowed me to unite my intellectual and creative interests, balancing independent research and writing with social collaboration and live events. Plus, teaching is very performative.

How would you explain your current research subject to a high school student?
My dissertation, Theatre of Operations/Operating Theatre, argues that the English Renaissance spawned two contrasting models of theatricality: one inspired by the introduction of “anatomy theatres,” which staged public dissections as a drama, and the other by the invention of “modern war,” which is structured like a different kind of drama, and brought home to the public through different kinds of theatrical display. Broadly put, “surgical” and “militarist” theatres have contradictory operating principles, and have long worked at cross-purposes. But they are becoming entangled in today’s era of “surgical wars.”

What is your favorite thing about being a student at Columbia GSAS?
The most enjoyable, challenging, and rewarding work I’ve done at Columbia has been teaching in the Undergraduate Writing Program. I’m continually inspired by my students’ curiosity, enthusiasm, and idealism, and I frequently discover new things about my own writing through working with them.

What resources or opportunities that Columbia provides are most important to you?
Columbia does a good job of providing funding to attend conferences.

Is there a common misconception about a topic in your field that you wish you could correct?
Theatre is sort of a weird hybrid art form, involving both text, which is static and permanent, and performance, which is dynamic and ephemeral. So there has been, and continues to be, a lot of debate among theatre scholars about what exactly theatre is, and how it should be studied. I’d say the most common misunderstanding involves privileging either its textual or performative elements while excluding the other.

Who are your favorite writers?
My favorite playwrights are Susan GlaspellLuigi PirandelloEugene IonescoDavid RabeHenrik Ibsen, and Sarah Kane.

Who is your hero of fiction?
Uncle Toby from The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy.

Who are your heroes in real life?
I’ve always admired penguins.

Who in your field do you consider to be a role model?
W.B. Worthen and Jean Howard—in Columbia’s Theatre and English departments—have both been terrific mentors for me.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
I’ve never been given the option of “a thing” before. Maybe a cactus? Or a train.

Where is your favorite place to eat on/around campus?
Taquería y Fonda on Amsterdam and 108th Street. They have burritos as big as my head!