Sonja Kuftinec

What are the limits of performance as a mode of conflict transformation and social change? Over 25 years Professor Kuftinec has been exploring this question through research, teaching and practice.

Professor Kuftinec teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on Twin Cities theater, performance and social change, early modern theater and performance, critical literacy, storytelling, and drama.

Her research includes community-based theater, conflict transformation, arts-based pedagogy, and the work of story to counter individual and historical amnesia.

She has published widely in her areas of research including her award-winning "Staging America: Cornerstone and Community-Based Theater" and "Theatre, Facilitation and Nation Formation in the Balkans and Middle East"

To view Sonja Kuftinec's full bio, please select it from the links provided above.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • PhD: Directing, History, Criticism, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 1996.
  • BA: Theater, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, 1988.


  • performance and social change
  • community-based theater
  • theatrical facilitation: Middle East, Balkans
  • 19th and 20th century American theatre
  • history and literature
  • performance studies
  • Balkan theater
  • Cornerstone Theater
  • theater in education
Courses Taught
  • TH 1911W Attending Live Theater Freshman Seminar
  • Th 5117 - Performance and Social Change
  • TH 5183 - Critical Literacy, Storytelling, and Creative Drama
  • Th 8112 - Medieval and Renaissance Theater
  • Th 8116 - History and Theory of Western Theatre: 20th Century From 1945 to the Present
  • LEAD 1961W Personal Leadership Development
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • A Contested Home: Healing Through Art and Storytelling: project in Israel , 2017 - 2018
  • Combatants for Peace lecture: Macalester College , Jan. 2017
  • “From Marmarth to Mostar: Animating Community through Theater” : Invited Lecture Illinois College , Nov. 2016
  • Speaker Gendered Violence conference: Invited by Princeton University as panelists , April 1, 2016 - April 2, 2016
  • Imagining America Board member: consult with national consortium and develop networked policies and conference , September 2011 - April 2017
  • Vice President Conferences : Organized 2014 Association for Theatre in Higher Education conference , September 2012 - August 2014
  • Co-organizer American Society for Theatre Research Conference, 2009: Nov. 2008 - Nov. 2009
  • Guest Editor Text and Performance Quarterly, Fall 2009: Jun. 2007 - Jun. 2009
  • Chair Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed international conference 2007: Jun. 2006 - Jun. 2007
  • Performance Review Editor Theater Journal: select and edit theater reviews for major academic journal , September 2004 - December 2007
  • Member, Center for Austrian Studies Board, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota: 2003 - 2004
  • Member, Center for Advanced Feminist Studies Advisory Board, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota: 2001 - 2003
  • Member, Performance Studies International:
  • Member, Association of Theater in Higher Education:
  • Member, American Society of Theatre Research:
  • Faculty Writing Consultant: work with writing center to consult with faculty about writing intensive courses , Sept. 2003 - May 2005
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, University of Minnesota: Sept. 2004


  • Oregon Shakespeare Festival: multi-year study of community-infused institutional practices at major regional theater, October 2010 - August 2019
  • A Contested Home: arts conflict transformation project with Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel, Jan. 2018 - Dec. 2018
  • Theater in Education : Working with Children's Theatre Company to teach arts literacy techniques to K-12 teachers , Summer 2010 - present
  • Theatre, Facilitation and Nation Formation:Reimagining Theater in the Balkans and Middle East: Book contracted with Palgrave Press, 2005 - 2009
  • Space & Place: research group sponsored by Institute for Global Studies and Institute for Advanced Studies, Sept. 1998 - June 2009
  • The Falls: Critical study of Cornerstone Theater's collaboration with the Guthrie and six neighborhood communities., April 2005 - September 2006
  • Image Theater and the Conflict Transformation: Working with S. Asian, Balkan, and Middle East youth affiliated with Seeds of Peace to facilitate dialogue through theater, research leave through Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, February 2004 - August 2004
  • Arts and Reconciliation in Israel/Palestine: scholarly symposium with visitors from Middle East accompanied by original production developed with University of Minnesota students and installations guided by Art Professor Diane Katsiaficas, Sept. 2002 - February 2003
  • Critical Arts Literacy: Network of K-12 teachers, teaching artists, and theater students investigating arts and education, November 2005 - ongoing
  • Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed: coordinating national conference, June 2006 - June 2007
  • Staging America: Cornerstone and Community-Based Theater: Book exploring relationship between theater, community and American identity with focus on community-based Cornerstone Theater (Honorable mention for 2003 Barnard Hewitt Award), June 2000 - Spring 2003


  • Timeslips Storytelling: storytelling with memory care residents, 2017 - 2018
  • Theater of the Oppressed workshop: Leading workshop for Macalester International Students conference, Oct. 22, 2015 - Oct. 22, 2015
  • Irrigate Artist: Designed storytelling workshop with homeless shelter, September 2013 - October 2013
  • Intermedia Artist: Part of group investigating place-based leadership, January 2013 - June 2013
  • Neighborhood Bridges Board Member: Work with elementary students on developing critical literacy, June 2006 - June 2009
  • There is a Field: Invited lecture for Hillel Center, January 2003
  • Syllabus Workshop Leader, Penumbra Theater: led workshop on creating syllabae for Penumbra Institute teachers, May 2003
  • New Play Respondent, Jungle Theater: respondent to new plays by Native American artists, April 2002
  • Consultant: provided background information on Balkans for cast of Small Tragedy, a play about Bosnia premiering at the Playwright's Center, May 2003
  • Civic Conversations: guest on BAT cable channel, April 2003 - May 2003


  • MayDay ceremony : performed in annual Heart of the Beast MayDay ceremony and parade, April 2019 - May 2019
  • Timeslips Storytelling: performed elder stories with memory care residents, 2018
  • Body Maps : Devised Performance, 2017
  • Documentnation: Ensemble developed piece guided by Tim Miller and performed on Washington DC Mall as part of Association for Theatre in Higher Education conference. Washington DC, August, March 2012 - August 2012
  • The Prose and Cons of Hitchhiking : performer devised script, March 2012 - June 2012
  • Scars, Shit, Sex, and Politics : Ensemble developed piece guided by Tim Miller , January 2012 - January 2012
  • There is a Field : directed Staged Reading at Heart of the Beast Theatre, August 2010 - October 2010
  • "We Come From . . . ": original performance with students at BYU, Oct. 29, 2007 - Nov. 2, 2007
  • Excerpts from Long Bridge Over Deep Waters : staged reading, Dec. 1, 2006 - Dec. 5, 2006
  • International Image Theater: workshop, Feb. 2004 - Jun. 2004
  • There is a Field: Original performance exploring the middle east with University students: Sept. 2002 - February 2003
  • Between the Lines: Alleys of Balkan Identity: invited to create original performance developed with youth from seven Balkan countries, performed at the House of World Cultures in Berlin, Germany, Sept. 25, 2001 - Oct. 17, 2001
  • Mesta/Places: invited workshop and original performance in Belgrade, Serbia, August 15, 2000 - August 20, 2000
  • Kuftinec, Sonja. "Breaks in the Common Good: Dramaturging MayDay within the Heart of the Beast." Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of America Journal Review Summer 2019 (2019): 3-11. LinkDownload
  • Holot Legislative Theatre: Kuftinec, Sonja, The Drama Review, Summer 2019 166-172, 2019. Download
  • Review of Oregon Shakespeare Festival: Kuftinec, Sonja, Theatre Journal , Spring 2019 215-217, 2019.
  • Theatre of the Oppressed and Community: Kuftinec, Sonja, Jan Cohen-Cruz, Chen Alon, Routledge, Routledge Companion to Theatre of the Oppressed, 348-359, 2019. Download
  • Spectacular Transgressions: Moving Beyond Polarities. Kuftinec, Sonja, John Fletcher, Author, 2018. Download
  • Theatre, Facilitation, and Nation Formation in the Balkans and Middle East. Kuftinec, Sonja, Palgrave Macmillan, Author, 2009.
  • Staging America: Cornerstone and Community-Based Theater. Kuftinec, Sonja, Southern Illinois University Press, 2003.
  • “Eyes Wide Open: The Potentials (and Pitfalls) of Partnership.”: Kuftinec, Sonja, HowlRound, Summer 2015 . Link
  • “When Failure Means Success: Music, movement, ritual and facilitation with Middle East youth and UCLA students”: Kuftinec, Sonja, John Wesley Days, Performance Research, 17.1 On Failure 88-96, 2012.
  • “Rehearsing for Dramatic Change in Afghanistan”: Kuftinec, Sonja, Eds Toby Emert and Ellie Friedland, Peter Lang, Come Closer: Critical Conversations about the Practice of Theatre of the Oppressed, 109-116, 2011.
  • “Viewpoints on Israeli-Palestinian Theatrical Encounters”: Kuftinec, Sonja, Eds Peter Duffy and Elinor Vetrraino, Palgrave, Youth and Theatre of the Oppressed, 83-96, 2010.
  • Violent Reformations: Image Theater with Youth in Conflict Regions: Kuftinec, Sonja, eds Jisha Menon and Patrick Anderson, Palgrave Macmillan, Violence Performed, 223-43, 2009.
  • “Gay Muslims and Salty Meat Pies: The Limits of Performing Community,“: Kuftinec, Sonja, eds Avi Oz and Susan Haedicke, Rodopi Press, Political Performances, 2009.
  • [How] Does Activist Performance Work?“: Kuftinec, Sonja, Community Arts Network, 2008. Link
  • “Prose and Cons: Prison Theater in Ma’asiyahu, Israel,“: Kuftinec, Sonja, Chen Alon, Research in Drama Education , 12:3 275-291, 2007.
  • “Methodologies of Performance Research in the Balkans and Jerusalem/Al Quds“. Kuftinec, Sonja, Assaph, 2007.
  • 'Go Have Your Life!' Self and Community in Peter Schumann's Bread and Puppet Theater. Kuftinec, Sonja, Editors James Harding and Cindy Rosenthal, 2003.
  • Bridging Balkan Rapis. Kuftinec, Sonja, Author, 2002. Link
  • Critical Relations in Community-Based Performance: The Artist and Writer in Conversation: Kuftinec, Sonja, Report for Animating Democracy Initiative, , 2002. Link
  • A Cornerstone for Rethinking Community Theater. Kuftinec, Sonja, 1996.
  • University of Arizona Borderlands Scholar, March 2014 - April 2014
  • Scholar of the College, July 2009 - July 2012
  • Institute for Advanced Study Research grant for project on Sovereignty and Statehood , Jun. 2008 - Jun. 2009
  • Scholarly Events Fund towards Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference, Oct. 2008 - June 2009
  • Fulton Lecturer at Brigham Young University, Oct. 2007 - Nov. 2007
  • Finalist Morse Alumni Undergraduate Education Award, 2006 - 2006
  • American Society of Theatre Research award for study in Israel/Palestine, June 2004 - June 2005
  • Barnard Hewitt Award (honorable mention), 2003
  • Seeds of Peace honorarium for facilitation work with Middle East Youth, July 2002
  • Grant in Aid Award for completion of Staging America, May 2001 - March 2002
  • Centennial Teaching Award, Stanford University, 1995