Derek A Goldman


Professor of Theater and Performance Studies Co-Director, Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics


Department of Performing Arts
General profile


108 Davis


Derek Goldman is Professor of Theater and Performance Studies at Georgetown University and co-Founding Director of the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics , which he co-founded with Ambassador Cynthia Schneider in 2012 with a mission "to harness the power of performance to humanize global politics" ( In 2016 he was honored to receive the prestigious President's Award for Distinguished Scholar-Teachers. From 2007-2016, he served as Artistic Director of the Davis Performing Arts Center at Georgetown. He is also co-Founding Director of Unesco's UNITWIN Global Network of Higher Education in the Performing Arts (based in Shanghai), and with partners at Theatre Communications Group (TCG), co-creator of the Global Theatre Initiative, which promotes cross-cultural collaboration and cultivates new strategies to maximize the global theatre field’s opportunities and impact.

He is an award-winning stage director, playwright, adapter, developer of new work, teacher, and published scholar, whose artistic work has been seen around the country, Off-Broadway and at numerous major regional theaters, as well as internationally. In recent years he has become increasingly involved in the convergence between global performance and international politics -- as an artist, producer, scholar, educator, convener, and cultural delegate. His engagement in this area has taken his work in recent years to the Sudan, China, Poland, South Africa, Australia, Peru, Bulgaria, Armenia, Chile, Canada, New Zealand, and throughout the UK, and into collaborations with artists from Iraq, Pakistan, Belarus, Israel, South Africa, Afghanistan, Palestine, the Congo, Czechoslovakia, India, Serbia, among other places. He is the recipient of numerous awards and major grants, including most recently as Principal Investigator on a $240,000 Building Bridges Grant from the Doris Duke Foundation and the Association of Performing Arts Presenters for the ongoing Myriad Voices: A Cross-Cultural Performance Festival.

He is also Founding Artistic Director of the StreetSigns Center for Literature and Performance, an award-winning socially-engaged professional theatre founded in Chicago and now based in Chapel Hill NC, devoted to new adaptations of literature for the stage, re-imagined classics, and ensemble-devised performance. Under Goldman's leadership, the company was named by the Chicago Sun-Times as "the most exciting company to emerge in Chicago since John Cusack's New Criminals"; by the New York Times as "one of Chicago's top theater companies"; and, after the company's move to North Carolina, by The Spectator as "the region's leading producer of cutting-edge work."

In addition to having led the company for 15 years through more than 60 productions, he has directed Off-Broadway, internationally, and worked regularly as a director and adapter/playwright with leading regional theatres such as Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, Lincoln Center, Arena Stage, Center Stage, Ford's Theatre, Folger Theater, Round House, Everyman Theatre, Theater J, Mosaic Theater, Synetic Theater, Forum Theater, the Kennedy Center, McCarter Theater Center, Segal Center (Montreal), Northern Stage, Olney Theater Center (where he is an Artistic Associate), and many others. In addition, his scholarship on the politics of adaptation and other subjects has been published in numerous journals (including South Atlantic Quarterly, Cultural Studies, and others) and in the Sage Handbook of Performance Studies, and he has been a contributor to American Theatre magazine, Howlround, and other publications. He received the National Communication Association's prestigious Outstanding Dissertation Award for his work The Politics and Poetics of Adaptation: Leon Forrest’s Divine Days. He was previously on the faculty at UNC Chapel Hill where he received the Hettleman Award for Outstanding Scholarly and Artistic Achievement, and the Chapman Family Fellowship for Distinguished Teaching and Scholarship.

He is the author of more than 30 professionally produced plays and adaptations, including work published by Samuel French and produced internationally, and he has directed over 80 productions. Recent artistic projects include A Streetcar Named Desire at Everyman (part of the Great American Rep); Our Class at Theater J (Helen Hayes Nominated for Outstanding Resident Play); his celebrated production of George Brant's Grounded at Everyman Theater and Olney Theater Center (soon to be remounted at Northern Stage); The Brothers Size at Everyman Theater (many year-end awards including Baltimore Magazine's Best Production of 2011-2012); his world-premiere adaptation of David Grossman's celebrated novel Falling Out of Time (Theater J); his new adaptations of Three Men in a Boat (Helen Hayes Nomination for Outstanding New Work/ Adaptation), Kafka's Metamorphosis and Lysistrata at Synetic Theater; Once Wild: Isadora in Russia with WordDance Theater (Winner of Multiple DC Metro Dance Awards including Outstanding Group Performance); the World Premiere of Jay O. Sanders' Rwanda epic Unexplored Interior, as the inaugural production of Mosaic Theater; Stones in His Pockets at CenterStage in Baltimore; Young Robin Hood (World Premiere) and Eurydice at Round House Theater; Theodore Bikel's Sholom Aleichem: Laughter through Tears, which he developed with legendary performer Bikel and toured internationally after successful runs Off-Broadway (Drama Desk Nomination), and at Theater J in Washington DC; ; book writer for Tales from Odessa: A So-Called Musical which premiered at the Segal Center in Montreal, adapted from the work of Isaac Babel and in collaboration with the celebrated recording artist So-Called (nomination for Montreal English Theater Award ); Clementine in the Lower 9 and bobraucshenbergamerica at Forum Theater; The Glass Menagerie (with Sarah Marshall) and Begotten, his original work about Eugene O'Neill at Arena Stage (GU partnership); In Darfur at Theater J (Helen Hayes Award-winner for Outstanding Lead Performance, Erika Rose); The Dresser, Blackbird and Shipwrecked! at Everyman; As You Like It at the Folger Theater; his adaptation of Studs Terkel's Will the Circle Be Unbroken at Steppenwolf (with David Schwimmer), at Millennium Park in Chicago (with Garrison Keillor) and in North Carolina and DC at Georgetown with Arena Stage (with David Strathairn), as well as extensive new work development with Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Arena Stage, Steppenwolf, Theater J, Syracuse Stage, Zeitgeist Festival, National New Play Network, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, Timeline Theater, the Source Festival, the Phillips Collection, and others.

Among his published/produced plays and adaptations are Haymarket Eight (with Jessica Thebus) which premiered at Steppenwolf; Right as Rain, a new play about Anne Frank and the Holocaust that toured nationally for 3 years; and numerous award-winning adaptations, all of which he also staged, including A Death in the Family (Jefferson Citation for Best New Work/Adaptation); Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (voted Independent Award for Best of the Decade 2000-2009); Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Kaddish for Allen Ginsberg; The Turn of the Screw; Divine Days; Written on the Body, as well as original works on and/or adaptations from Miller, Williams, O'Neill (all with Arena Stage), Lorca, Kafka, Faulkner, and many others. He has collaborated extensively on new work with writers such as Studs Terkel, Helene Cixous, Theodore Bikel, Don Delillo, Allan Gurganus, Leon Forrest, Jay O. Sanders, Norman Allen, Masha Obolensky, Jon Klein and many others.

Other professional directing highlights include his Jeff-Award winning Hamlet; The Seagull; the US Premiere of Helene Cixous' epic The Perjured City, or the Awakening of the Furies; DeLillo's Mao II; Brecht's Antigone; two productions of Lorca's The Public; Twelfth Night; George Brant’s 's long-running comedy hit Night of the Mime; Tales of the Lost Formicans; The Fever; Saul Reichlin’s off-Broadway and internationally-touring hit Sholom Aleichem: Now You're Talking; and Anna Deavere Smith’s Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992.

At Georgetown, he has directed a new multi-media Hamlet, which was featured at the Performance Studies International Conference in Shanghai, where he travelled with students; his World Premiere multimedia play A Child Shall Lead Them: Making The Night of the Hunter, based on the classic 1955 film (a co-production with University of Maryland); The Glass Menagerie and related original works (Elegy for Rose, and The Menagerie Variations) devised from the Tennessee Williams archive, as well as a star-studded concert version of Camino Real in Gaston Hall on Williams' 100th birthday, as part of the Tennessee Williams Centennial festival at GU and Arena Stage; a new adaptation of Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author; The Winter's Tale, the DC Premieres of Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice and David Hare's Stuff Happens; Right as Rain; The Skin of Our Teeth; a new version of Our Town (with Sarah Marshall) in partnership with Duke Ellington School of the Arts, and a workshop production of his new adaptation of Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize Winning novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey.

Through the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics, he hosted a delegation from Baghdad University for a month-long residency in May-June 2012, along with an international convening at Georgetown "Toward an Initiative on Global Performance, Civic Imagination, and Cultural Diplomacy," funded by a Reflective Engagement in the Public Interest grant, which brought together more than 80 leading artists, scholars, and policymakers from around the world. In Summer 2010 he led his Georgetown students as the sole US representatives at the UNESCO/ITI World Festival of Theater Schools in Peru, creating the original work In Search of Duende: The Ballad of Federico Garcia Lorca, and he is the North American representative on the board of the UNESCO/ITI World Conference of Theater School Directors. He has also been funded for international travel and work with the Center for International Theater Development, among dozens of grants to support his work and he has appeared frequently as a lecturer, panelist and workshop leader at Festivals, Universities, Conferences and Forums around the world.

As Artistic Director of the Davis Performing Arts Center from 2007-2016 he was proud to produce numerous world premieres, and the nationally-acclaimed Tennessee Williams Centennial Festival (in partnership with the American Studies Program) which featured over 30 events at Georgetown and Arena Stage. At Georgetown it has been his privilege to host and collaborate with world-class artists such as Edward Albee, Belarus Free Theater, Dah Teatar from Belgrade, Ajoka Theater from Lahore, Pakistan; the Syria: Trojan Women Project; Ping Chong & Company, Freedom Theater from Jenin, Palestine, Boaz Gaon, The Civilians and Michael Friedman, Anna Deavere Smith, Heather Raffo, Moises Kaufman and Tectonic Theater Project, Pig Iron, Michael Rohd and Sojourn Theater, Liz Lerman, Rachel Chavkin and the TEAM, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Danny Hoch, Theodore Bikel, John Waters, Michael Kahn, Joy Zinoman, David Strathairn, Kathleen Chalfant, Joe Dowling, Olympia Dukakis, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Sister Helen Prejean, Target Margin Theater, Marcus Gardley, Robin Becker Dance, and dozens of others.

He received his Ph. D. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and has developed and teaches courses in Performance in Society: Global Performance, Civic Imagination, and Cultural Diplomacy; Political Theater; Directing; Adaptation and Performance of Literature; Acting Shakespeare; Comedy; Theatre and the Holocaust; Tennessee Wiliams' Worlds; Narrative in Fiction and Film, and many additional special topics courses. At Georgetown, he is a member of the Affiliated Faculty in the American Studies Program and the Film and Media Studies Program.

He is currently developing and directing My Report To The World a new play about Polish war-hero and former Georgetown Professor Jan Karski, co-written with his former student, GU alum Clark Young, which was featured as the centerpiece of the Karski Centennial Celebration in Gaston Hall at Georgetown with Academy-Award nominated actor David Strathairn, and in conjunction with the opening of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw in October, 2014. It recently completed a 3-week residency with 7 sold out performances at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York and at the Harman Center/ Shakespeare Theater in DC, and a workshop at the McCarter, with Strathairn continuing in the role of Karski.

Other upcoming projects include a new production of The Diary of Anne Frank at Olney; Sarah Ruhl's In the Next Room, (or the Vibrator Play) at Georgetown, and he has been commissioned by Ford's Theater to create Hope Dies Last, a new work inspired by the work and legacy of Studs Terkel.


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  • Ph. D. (2001) Northwestern University, Perfomance Studies
  • M.A. (1996) Northwestern University, Performance Studies
  • B.S. (1992) Northwestern University, Performance Studies


  • French (read)