2017/2018

Research/Creative Work

Contribution of Research/Creative Work Appropriate to the Disciplines of Playwriting and Dramaturgy

Scholarly Review Equivalencies

Specific scholarly review equivalencies for Books, Refereed Articles and General Articles have been created for promotion/tenure portfolio review for the Department of Theatre Arts. The description of the equivalent Research/Creative Work that support the promotion/tenure portfolio review for the Department of Theatre Arts are outlined in the 2018 Department of Theatre Arts Guidelines and Criteria for Promotion and Tenure. Click here for the specific scholarly review equivalencies for the Department of Theatre Arts. To aide in the review process, beneath the heading for each Creative Work documented below the scholarly equivalency is noted.

Creative Work: Production Dramaturge

Scholarly Equivalency - Book

Hart's Contribution as Production Dramaturge


The production was nominated for 9 Ostrander Awards and took home awards for "Best Production of a Drama and Best Featured Performer in a Drama". The Ostrander awards is the annual ArtsMemphis and Memphis magazine-sponsored celebration of Memphis’ vibrant theater community.

In my role as production dramaturge for August Wilson's "Jitney" at Hattiloo Theatre I supported and enhanced the work of the director and production team in creating a production of artistic merit and meaning. The production dramaturge helps the director and production team unpack the play and discover the multiple layers of meaning and value in the text and in the visual, aural and physical atmosphere of the play. This is accomplished by conducting thorough research to create a dramaturgy resource packet that examines and articulates the inner structure of the play.

During early rehearsals the dramaturge is able to present critical observations and pose thought provoking questions; all of which position the production team to conduct rich and meaningful table work and engage in a productive on-your-feet rehearsal process. The work of the dramaturge empowers collaborators to make informed performance and design choices and enriches audience engagement.

Hattiloo Theatre in Memphis TN, is the only freestanding Black repertory theatre in five surrounding states, and has developed a strong regional audience (32% in 2015). Hattiloo is known for offering high-quality, free programming and performances staged throughout the city, engaging over 5,000 people each year. In June 2014, following a $4.3M capital campaign, Hattiloo moved from its 75-seat theatre to a newly-constructed facility, debt free, and established a $500K endowment. The evolution of its artistic vision and programming, and the success of its business model has made Hattiloo a sought-after resource nationwide.

Working alongside award winning director Steve Broadnax afforded me the opportunity to begin the collaboration process well before the rehearsals started. I was able to interview the director regarding his concept and assure the dramaturgy resource packet addressed any unique drivers he wanted to explore in the play - images, events, patterns, words, memories, ritual, etc. In the research materials I provided a comprehensive examination of the Hill District serving as a 'framing' entity in the world of the play and analysis of themes like "Navigating the Rules" and "The Power of Renaming in the Black Community." In addition to providing a well researched resource packet I facilitated a live presentation for the actors and production team highlighting key information to support the actualization of the world of the play. Ultimately, the contributions of the dramaturge deepen the production teams' understanding of the world of the play and supports the presentation of a production worthy of public viewing.

My dramaturgical contributions made to achieve the goals of creating a production reflecting artistic and commercial merit for "Jitney" include:

      • Interview the director to gain an understanding of the director's concept and vision
      • Researched the playwright's impetus for writing the play and to learn any other relevant information
      • Analyze the play and conduct thorough research on time period, styles, themes, location, language, etc.
      • Conduct approximately 150 hours of research along with creation of the dramaturgy resource packet
      • Ethnological and Anthropological research
      • Articulate the inner structure of the play and present critical observations to cast/design team
      • Posed thought provoking questions to the cast
      • Provide thorough research to support the artistic/design team (set/costume/lighting and sound scape) to visually actualize the physical environment and atmosphere of the play
      • Analyze the script for its structure, themes and socio/political arguments
      • During an early rehearsal present an overview of materials regarding how to best use the dramaturgy resource packet


Production Details

  • Hart's Role: Production Dramaturge
  • Play: Jitney by August Wilson
  • Producer: Hattiloo Theatre
  • Location: Memphis TN
  • Rehearsal Dates: March 13 - April 18, 2018
  • Production Dates: April 20 - May 13, 2018


Production Materials


Dramaturgy Research Materials

















Photos Below: the rehearsal process

The Theatre
Dramaturgy Presentation/Table Work
Director Steve Broadnax in the Rehearsal Room
Hart and the full cast

Event Details

  • Hart's Role: Scholarly Writing/Presentation Coach
  • Event: Blackademics TV PBS Taping
  • Producer: Blackademics TV & KLRU-TV
  • Location: KLRU-TV, Austin Texas
  • Prep work with Scholars: Nov. 2017-Feb. 2018
  • Rehearsal Dates: February 15-16, 2018
  • Taping Dates: February 15-16, 2018

Event Description

Taped in front of a live audience at KLRU-TV station in Austin Texas, Blackademics Television is a Lone Star Emmy nominated television series that airs nationally on PBS. In its sixth year, the series features dynamic and informative scholars sharing their research from a wide range of academic, activist and creative backgrounds.

Link to Watch Episode


"Each presenter shared that with Denise’s knowledge of dramaturgy, writing and performance they were able to translate their academic and scholarly presentation in a way that significantly impacted the audience. In fact, more than one of her assigned scholars shared that they felt they couldn’t have done as well without Denise’s training and support." ~ Dr. Kevin Foster, Executive Producer







Photos Below: my 2018 cohort of scholar presenters

Creative Work: Scholarly Writing/Presentation Coach

Scholarly Equivalency - Book

Hart's Contribution as a Scholarly Writing/Presentation Coach

Blackademics TV is a unique opportunity for me to utilize my expertise as a writer and my knowledge of public-focused dramaturgy. Public-focused dramaturgical efforts function to contextualize and offer frameworks for interpretation, critique and analysis.

This was my fifth year working on the series as a scholarly writing/presentation coach. Serving as a scholar coach for consecutive years helps create a consistent high quality aesthetic for the series. This kind of consistency and attention to excellence produces a series that has both artistic and commercial merit.

The focus of the series is to offer scholarship to local, national and global communities through live studio participation, the internet and television. The finished product reaches approximately 3 million television viewers and airs in Texas, New Mexico, Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado and Florida. The seres is also available via the internet on the 350 PBS member stations that serve all 50 states, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa.

In my role I provide support and training for a cohort of up to six nationally and/or internationally recognized scholars, artists and activists preparing them to write compelling scholarly researched based presentations to communicate their research focus for a television audience and conduct interactive, engaging academic presentations.

The scholar presenters are the "face" of the series. With my help scholar presenters create a nine minute segment that focuses on their research expertise and interest.

The selection process is highly competitive. Scholars must submit a research abstract and a committee of scholars makes the final selection of twelve scholars for each cohort. Over a twelve week process I hold writing and coaching sessions with each of my six scholars to review and provide feedback on their research abstract. Next, the scholars submit a draft outline of their research critique based presentation. The critique focuses on the strengths and limitations of the research. We engage in discussion and brainstorming via at least two teleconferences or videoconferences to further develop their presentation and analyze the merits and faults of their critique. As we move to the final presentation draft I help the scholars title their talk and pay special attention to editing to create a nine minute presentation segment centered on the scholars research focus.

Of note, as a result of the specific research focus of each scholar, the content focus of the papers is quite varied. During the 2018 season the scholars I supported included: cultural anthropologist Dr. Robert Adams, Dr. Paula Gerstenblatt Assistant Professor of social work, Chef Kabui an afro-futuristic chef and associate professor, Dr. Venus E. Evans-Winters, who focused on "Racialized Trauma: Inside and Outside of Schools." Through my work as a scholar coach I help shape the advancement of scholarly and public discourse on a wide variety of research subjects.

Once I and the cohort of scholars arrives in Austin I continue to advise the scholar presenters on set for the live taping by being present and supportive during the rehearsal sessions preceding each recording session.

The contribution and outcome of my coaching is consistent high quality researched based presentations that are nationally broadcast and distributed around the world via PBS television stations and electronic media.

Dr. Paula Gerstenblatt
An Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of Southern Maine confronts her own racism in the journey of raising mixed race kids.
Dr. Robert Adams
A Senior Vice President of Programs at the NEA Foundation, an educational philanthropic organization located in Washington, D.C., a cultural anthropologist encourages thoughtful listening with a talk on the art of the cab ride.
Dr. Victor B. Sáenz
an Associate Professor in the Program in Higher Education Leadership offers a successful program for mentoring Latino males.
Dr. Venus E. Evans-Winters
An Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Administration and Foundations at College of Education at Illinois State discusses Racialized Trauma: Inside and Outside of Schools
Chef Kabui
An international chef, encourages sustainable organic food use with a focus on Afro-futuristic conscious cuisine to liberate African food...and it includes health, justice and sustainability
Dr. Kevin Foster
Discusses Soul Train and the value of independent black television programs.

Editorial Board

  • Executive Editor - Sandra Adell, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Managing Editor - Denise J. Hart, Howard University
  • Book Review Editor - Sharrell Luckett, Muhlenberg College
  • Performance Review Editor – Melda Beaty, Olive-Harvey College

About the Journal

Continuum: The peer reviewed Journal of African Diaspora Drama, Theatre and Performance is a service of the Black Theatre Network dedicated to fostering scholarship on the past, present, and future of African diaspora performing arts. The inaugural issue was published in June 2014 under the leadership of the founding managing editor Freda Scott Giles and has made a significant contribution to scholarly and educational discourse by publishing over 50 scholarly articles and book/performance reviews. All articles undergo a two-level peer review process.

Creative Work: Managing Editor of Peer Reviewed Journal

Scholarly Equivalency - Refereed Article

Hart's Contribution as Managing Editor of Peer Reviewed Journal

Continuum: the Journal of African Diaspora Drama, Theatre and Performance is published by The Black Theatre Network (BTN). For 30 years, the Black Theatre Network has collected, processed and distributed information that supports the professional and personal development of its membership (comprised of individuals engaged in the full range of theatre professions, professional and community theatres and organizations, and academic institutions). The Black Theatre Network (BTN) is an inclusive organization, run by a volunteer board, that:

    • Provides Black Theatre artists and scholars with a milieu for communicating and exchanging ideas
    • Provides a national forum for the examination, discussion and planning of theatre events
    • Encourages the production of plays about the Black experience at home and abroad
    • Disseminates employment & career development opportunities in theatre to its members
    • Supports development & production of theatre events at local, regional, and national levels
    • Honors & celebrates the pioneers & practitioners who have impacted the American Theatre

The managing editor is nominated by the Continuum editorial board and approved by a majority vote of the Black Theatre Network Board. In my role as Managing Editor of the journal my contributions to sharing the scholarship of Black Theatre artists and scholars include:

    • Maintain and facilitate communication between the Continuum Editorial Board and the BTN Board
    • Formulate, institute and maintain policies for the management and production of the journal
    • Preside at all journal e-board meetings
    • Prepare an agenda and convene meetings of the Editorial Board as needed
    • Maintain and facilitate communication among board members, authors, the web designer and all connected with production of the journal
    • Insure that all legal documents, authors’ agreements, etc. are properly maintained and recorded
    • Keep track of financial contributions to the journal
    • Assist and support the web designers and editors in production of the journal
    • Social Media Marketing

Creative Work: Production Dramaturge

Scholarly Equivalency - Refereed Article

Hart's Contribution as Production Dramaturge

In my role as production dramaturge in an educational environment my role is to support and enhance the work of the director and production team in creating a production of artistic and commercial merit. . The production dramaturge helps the director and production team unpack the play and discover the multiple layers of meaning and value in the text and in the visual, aural and physical atmosphere of the play. This is accomplished by compiling a dramaturgy resource packet created from conducting thorough research that analyzes and articulates the inner structure of the play.

During early rehearsals the dramaturge is able to present critical observations and pose thought provoking questions; all of which position the production team to conduct rich and meaningful table work and engage in a productive on-your-feet rehearsal process. The work of the dramaturge empowers collaborators to make informed performance and design choices and enriches audience engagement.

Typically, early in the rehearsal phase the dramaturge supports the production team by presenting an overview of process and materials approved by the director, regarding how to best use the production resource book for a specific production. However, due to a financial challenge the production was cancelled. Ultimately, the contributions of the dramaturge deepen the actors' understanding of the world of the play and supports the presentation of a production worthy of public viewing.

My dramaturgical contributions made with the aim to help achieve the goals of creating a production reflecting artistic and commercial merit for "Sweet Charity" include:

        • Have an understanding of the director's concept and vision
        • Researched the playwright's impetus for writing the play and to learn any other relevant information
        • Analyze the play and conduct thorough research on time period, styles, themes, location, language, etc.
        • Ethnological and Anthropological research
        • Articulate the inner structure of the play
        • Provide thorough research to support the artistic/design team (set/costume/lighting and sound scape) to visually actualize the physical environment and atmosphere of the play
        • Analyze the script for its structure, themes and socio/political arguments

Production Details

  • Hart's Role: Production Dramaturge
  • Play: Sweet Charity
  • Producer: Howard University
  • Location: Washington DC
  • Production Dates: Production was cancelled

Production Materials

Dramaturgy Research Materials

Creative Work: Panel Presentation

Scholarly Equivalency - General Article

Hart's Contribution as Panelist

  • Presenter: "Beyond the Obvious: Character Archetypes in August Wilson’s Two Trains Running” held at Arena Stage Theatre in Washington DC March 1, 2018, 6:30-8:30pm

The Anacostia Community Museum in collaboration with Arena stage in conjunction with their production of playwright August Wilson's two trains running, presents a panel featuring Professor Denise J. Hart, MFA, and moderated by Dr. Shandra G. Shannon, a professor of African American literature, Wilson scholar and President of the August Wilson Society. The discussion is focused on how Wilson frequently uses themes of personal and community displacement in his work.

Creative Work: Workshop Facilitator

Scholarly Equivalency - General Article

Hart's Contribution as Workshop Facilitator

  • Workshop presentation: "Transitioning from Actor to Playwright" held at Gateway Media Arts Lab in Mt Rainier, MD May 12 & 19, 2018, 12-5pm

Creative Work: Dramaturge Consultant

Scholarly Equivalency - General Article

Hart's Contribution as Dramaturge Consultant

  • As consulting dramaturge I supported Adrien-Alice Hansel, Literary Manger of Studio Theatre in Washington DC by sharing a requested list of plays by African American playwrights written between 1965-2000 to consider for production at Studio. February 5-8, 2018

Below is the submitted list of African American Playwrights:

August Wilson, Pearl Cleage, Domonique Morissau, Katori Hall ,Nikkole Salter, Glenn Gordon (NSangou Njikam), Ntozake Shange, Cheryl West, Richard Wesley, Aishah Raman, David Lamb, Suzan-Lori Parks, Christina Anderson, Kia Corthron, Kirsten Greenidge, Cori Thomas, Jocelyn Bioh, Nathan Yungerberg, Mfoniso Udofia, Liza Jessie Peterson, Ron Milner, George C. Wolfe, Tarell, McCraney, Nambi Kelley, Ngozi Anyanwu, Joseph Walker, Dael Orlandersmith Radha Blank, Charlayne Woodard, Sigrid Gilmer, Douglas Turner Ward, Samm-Art Williams, Lonne Elder, Alice Childress, Robbie McCauley, LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka Charles Fuller , Lydia Diamond, Danai Gurira, Christina Ham, Imani Harrington, Anna Deavere Smith, Glenda Dickerson, Sonia Sanchez, Lynn, Nottage, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Robert O'Hara and Marcus Gardley