Lisa Biggs, PhD, is an actress, playwright, and performance scholar originally from the Southside of Chicago. She currently serves as an assistant professor at Brown University in the Department of Africana Studies/Rites and Reason Theatre, where she offers courses in Black theatre and performance studies. As an artist and scholar, Lisa researches the theory, practice and impact of theatre for social change, with a particular focus on the role of the performing arts in movements for social justice. Her scholarship is grounded in a long career as a performing artist. From 1999-2001, Lisa was a member of the Living Stage Theatre Company, one of the preeminent theatre for social change programs in the country. There she appeared in hundreds of improvisational theatre pieces and facilitated arts workshops for participants aged 3-103. Her acting credits also include productions at the Kennedy Center, Arena Stage, African Continuum Theatre, and Lookinglass Theatre, and featured roles on film, radio, and TV, including the documentary, Walk with Me: The Movie (2013).
Lisa's work as a performer is undergirded by an abiding interest in the activism of Black women and girls, and a desire to develop new living history plays. Her most recent play, AFTER/LIFE, was awarded a 2016 Detroit Arts Challenge grant from the Knight Foundation to tell stories of women and girls during the 1967 Detroit rebellion. Her current book project, tentatively titled Black Women Prisoners “Acting Right:” Performance, Art and Activism Behind Bars, researches the impact of theatre programs for women who are incarcerated in prisons and jails in the U.S. and in South Africa. Recent publications can be found at The Conversation (August 2017), in Theatre Survey (2016), Black Acting Methods: Critical Approaches (2016) and Solo/Black/Woman: Scripts, Interviews, Essays (2013). Dr. Biggs earned a BA in Theatre and Dance from Amherst College (1993), and graduate degrees from New York University's Gallatin School (MA Playwriting and Performance Studies, 2007) and Northwestern University (PhD Performance Studies, 2013).