Brenda received her MFA from Cal Arts and an interdisciplinary PhD in women’s studies, history, and theatre and performance from Brown University. She is a professor of theatre and gender studies at Marlboro College, VT, and was recently named the Carol L. Zicklin Endowed Chair at Brooklyn College (2016-2018) where she taught disability studies seminars. 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.
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), Theatre Project (NJ), Theatre Breaking Through Barriers (NYC), Sky Blue Theatre Company (London), Boston Theater Marathon (MA), Benchmark Theatre (CO), Camino Real Playhouse (CA), Stage Left Theater (WA), and The Road Theatre Company (CA). She was named to Athena Theatre’s 2017 Playwriting Group, the Bechdel Group’s 2017 Play Development Reading Series, and her play, Protocol, will be included in the The Best 10-Minute Plays of 2018 (Smith and 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, and Vienna’s English Theatre, Austria.