Brenda received her MFA from Cal Arts and an interdisciplinary PhD in women’s and gender studies, history, and theatre and performance from Brown University. She is an associate professor in performing arts at Emerson College. Brenda was previously named the Carol L. Zicklin Endowed Chair at Brooklyn College (2016-2018) where she taught disability studies seminars and was a professor of theatre and gender studies at Marlboro College in Vermont. Her first book, Undressed for Success: Beauty Contestants and Exotic Dancers as Merchants of Morality (Palgrave) examined the historical links between beauty pageants and striptease and her current book project, A Legacy of Violence: Women, Mental Illness, and Performance (under contract with Routledge), is an exploration of the violence inherited from our asylum history in cultural representations of women and mental illness. Brenda has also been named editor of the new Routledge Series in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Theatre and Performance.
In addition to her scholarship, Brenda is an award-winning playwright and actor whose work has been developed and produced with Athena Theatre (NYC), The Bechdel Group (NYC), The Theater Project (NJ), Theatre Breaking Through Barriers (NYC), Sky Blue Theatre Company (London), Boston Theater Marathon (MA), Benchmark Theatre (CO), Camino Real Playhouse (CA), Sleeping Weazel (MA), The Wilbury Theatre Group (RI), and The Road Theatre Company (CA). She was named to Athena Theatre’s 2017 Playwriting Group and the Bechdel Group’s 2017 Play Development Reading Series. Her play, Protocol, is included in the The Best Ten-Minute Plays of 2018 (Smith & Kraus) and a monologue from Camouflage is published in The Best Women’s Monologues of 2019 (Smith & Kraus). Previous awards include winner of the British Theatre Challenge, Carbonell Award for Best Actress, and CLIR Mellon Fellowship. Acting credits include the La Jolla Playhouse, Roundabout, Studio Arena, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Indiana Rep, Pioneer Theatre, Philadelphia Drama Guild, GeVa Theatre, StageWest, Florida Stage, The Theater Project, and Vienna’s English Theatre, Austria.