MSFEO Faculty


Professor Cleary is a director, writer and theatre historian.  Her scholarship and production research have focused on dissident theatre practice, with an emphasis on ensemble performance and work by women artists.  She has directed five plays by Naomi Wallace, including a U.S. premiere, and has published and presented continuously about Wallace’s work.  She has also worked with, and published about, DAH Theatre of Belgrade, Serbia.  Cleary is the recipient of the 2017 Oscar Brockett Outstanding Teacher of Theatre in Higher Education Award, presented through the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE).  Her experience as both a practitioner and scholar is the foundation for her course, “Performance Methods: Shakespeare to Butoh,” where students conduct both traditional and performance-based research into performance history and training methods.  Cleary’s own recent training in oral history ethics and methods led to the 2017 Macalester production, Acute Care: Performing Emotional Labors, based on thirty oral histories with nurses conducted by Cleary and 12 students; the production toured to the MN Nurses’ Assocation union headquarters.  Cleary is the co-founder of the East Side Freedom Library, an educational and cultural center on St. Paul’s east side.  She holds a Ph.D. from UC-Berkeley where she wrote her dissertation on the Bread & Puppet Theatre, with whom she worked for five years as a performer-collaborator.

Areas of Teaching Expertise

Feminisms in Performance
Oral Histories in Performance
Performance Methods and Histories
Directing and Devising
Actor Training
Political Theatre, Puppet Theatre

Macalester Courses

Performance Methods: Shakespeare to Butoh
Creative Nonfiction Performance
Playing for Life
Oral Histories in Performance
Independent Projects and Capstones

Selected Productions

Acute Care: Performing Emotional Labors, Macalester College and MN Nurses’ Assn, April 2017
The Glass Menagerie (Williams), Macalester College, April 2016
12 Ophelias (Svich), Macalester College, April 2013
3 Figure$ (Emily Zimmer ’00), Naked Stages/Pillsbury House Theatre, December 2013
The Inland Sea (Wallace), U.S. Premiere, Macalester College, November 2011

Selected Publications

“Oh, Darkness!” Punctuate, Nonfiction Magazine, Columbia College Chicago, October, 2017.
“The Lost Show: Tender, Tender, Tenderly and Yugo-nostalgia,” in Barnett, Dennis, ed. (2016) DAH Theatre: A Sourcebook, Lexington Books.
“Crucial Unspeakables, or Pedagogies of the Repressed: Directing Sex in the Plays of Naomi Wallace,” in Cummings & Abbitt, eds.(2014) The Theatre of Naomi Wallace: Embodied Dialogues, Palgrave Macmillan.

Professional Associations

Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP)
Association for the Study of Adoption & Culture (ASAC)
Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE)
The Loft Literary Center
Yoga Alliance/American Viniyoga Institute