Brian Eugenio Herrera is, by turns, a writer, teacher and scholar — presently based in New Jersey, but forever rooted in New Mexico. Brian's work, whether academic or artistic, examines the history of gender, sexuality and race within and through U.S. popular performance. He is author of The Latina/o Theatre Commons 2013 National Convening: A Narrative Report (HowlRound, 2015). His book Latin Numbers: Playing Latino in Twentieth-Century U.S. Popular Performance (Michigan, 2015) was awarded the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism and received an Honorable Mention for the John W. Frick Book Award from the American Theatre and Drama Society. With Stephanie Batiste and Robin Bernstein, Brian serves as co-editor of “Performances and American Cultures” series at NYU Press. Also a performer, Brian's autobiographical storywork performances (including I Was the Voice of Democracy and TouchTones) have been presented in venues large and small across the United States, as well as Beirut and Abu Dhabi. Brian is also the Inaugural Resident Scholar for The Sol Project, an initiative dedicated to producing the work of Latinx playwrights in New York City and beyond; he also serves as part of the Core Facilitation Team with ArtEquity. Brian is presently at work on two scholarly book projects: Next! A Brief History of Casting, a historical study of the material practices of casting in US popular performance, and Starring Miss Virginia Calhoun, a narrative portrait of a deservedly obscure early 20th century actress/writer/producer. Brian Eugenio Herrera is Associate Professor of Theater in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University, where he is also a core faculty member in the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies and a faculty affiliate with the Programs in American Studies, Music Theater and Latino Studies.
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Spinal Tap 2016
Princeton professors unpack their summer reading lists
What are we looking at?
This image captures the jumble that is the “American theater/performance history” section of my office bookshelf. I aspire to chronological arrangement, but these books move to and from the shelf so often they defy my organizational efforts. I do love that Nicolás Kanellos’ A History of Hispanic American Theatre in the United States, Origins to 1940 is sneaking into the lower right corner of this image. In many ways, that book is a cornerstone to my own work in the field of Latina/o/x performance history. So it’s no surprise that the photographer captured it moving to (or from) its place on the shelf.
And that framed number seven? There’s no organizational or literary significance. It’s simply the seventh of eight table markers — originally created for use at my wedding reception — which I kept and which now dot my office bookshelves. I keep threatening to use them in a class, perhaps to mark different stations around the room or something, but that hasn’t happened … yet. Mostly, I just like them.
What’s on your summer reading list?
For my summer reading, I’ve accumulated quite a pile of notable but nonscholarly works of theater and film history that I’m raring to dive into. Recent books like Michael Riedel’s Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway and Jean Stein’s West of Eden, as well as older gems like Valeria Beletti’s Adventures of a Hollywood Secretary: Her Private Letters from Inside the Studios of the 1920s. The titles are directly related to my current book projects, but they also promise to be a hoot. Last summer, I loved watching all nine seasons of Perry Mason (1957-1966), mostly because it featured so many of Hollywood’s most valuable supporting players; this year I’m thinking I might take on Naked City (1958-1963), which guest stars many of the era’s great New York stage actors. I’m also thrilled to encounter the worlds conjured by playwright Carlos Murillo’s brand new genre-confounding meta-theatrical opus, The Javier Plays.
This content is courtesy of Michael Hotchkiss and Jamie Saxon, Princeton University Office of Communications.
“What Makes a Latino Play?” | Bathing in Moonlight — McCarter Theatre Center
“Latin Numbers: Playing Latino in Twentieth-Century U.S. Popular Performance” | Open Books Series — Theatre for a New Audience, 3/13/17
Trustees Approve 20 Faculty Promotions | Princeton.edu
“Herrera celebrates legacy of playwright María Irene Fornés” | www.princeton.edu, Nov. 1, 2018
Life of the Mind — “Setting the Scene: The History Behind American Performance” | Princeton Alumni Weekly
Author Talks: “Hamilton and Philadelphia: Historical Adaptation in Theater” — April 3, 2019, 6 PM, Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia, PA
“Theatrical Intimacy Education Announces EDI Initiative” | AmericanTheatre.org, September 16, 2019
“Hamilton airs on Disney+: For people of color, an American story ‘that could be theirs'” | NBC News, July 3, 2020