Dorinne Kondo is Professor of American Studies and Anthropology and former Director of Asian American Studies at the University of Southern California. A cultural anthropologist, Kondo’s books include Crafting Selves: Power, Gender and Discourses of Identity in a Japanese Workplace (J.I. Staley Prize from the School for Advanced Research, for a book that has influenced the field of Anthropology), and About Face: Performing Race in Fashion and Theater (Cultural and Literary Studies Prize, Association for Asian American Studies). Her new book, Worldmaking: Race, Performance, and the Work of Creativity, based on twenty years of participation in theater as dramaturg, scholar, and playwright, brings the aesthetic sublime back to earth by theorizing backstage creative labor. Worldmaking bends genre, combining first-person entr’actes, the political-economic mise-en-scène of the theater industry, theoretical/ analytical essays spotlighting the creative process of artists Anna Deavere Smith and David Henry Hwang, and Kondo’s full-length play Seamless, based on family history, about memory, the (im)possibility of knowing the past, and the historical trauma of Japanese American incarceration.
Kondo has served as dramaturg for the world premieres of three of Anna Deavere Smith’s plays: Twilight; Los Angeles 1992 (Mark Taper Forum), workshops for House Arrest (Arena Stage) and House Arrest: An Introgression (Mark Taper Forum), and Let Me Down Easy (Long Wharf Theatre). Her plays include (Dis)graceful(l) Conduct (Mixed Blood Theatre’s “We Don’t Need No Stinking Dramas” national comedy playwriting award), But Can He Dance? produced at San Diego’s Asian American Repertory Theater, and Seamless (readings at the Lark Play Development Center, New York Theatre Workshop, runner-up for the Jane Chambers Award for women playwrights).