Dr. James R. Ball, III

  • Director
  • Academy for Visual and Performing Arts
Dr. James R. Ball, III headshot


James R. Ball, III studies the politics of performance and the performance of politics, analyzing the theatrical structures that underwrite public political events and aesthetic performances that intervene in political processes. His book, Theater of State: a Dramaturgy of the United Nations (Northwestern University Press, 2020), investigates global political spectatorship and the theatricality of international institutions. Dr. Ball’s work emphasizes the forms of theatricality that situate individuals as engaged spectators of global politics. His edited collection, Performing Statecraft: The Postdiplomatic Theatre of Sovereigns, Citizens, and States (Methuen Drama, 2022) is forthcoming.

Dr. Ball’s investigation of spectatorship has also prompted work on immersive and interactive performance genres, and he has developed ongoing research projects on performing robots, theatre and war, and civic dramaturgy. His articles and chapters have been published in TDR: The Drama Review, The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, The International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media, e-misférica, and Brecht Yearbook, as well as in the collections Reframing Immersive Theatre and Popular Music and Public Diplomacy.

In addition to regularly teaching Introduction to Performance Studies and Theories of Performance Studies in the Department’s undergraduate and graduate programs, Dr. Ball has taught courses on arts activism, Cold War theatre, adaptation and intertextuality, carnival and festive cultures, politics and performance, spectacle, Shakespeare, and interactive theatre. Before embarking on his academic career, Dr. Ball produced and directed theatre in New York City and Washington, DC.