Scholar, Writer, Dramaturg
Charles O'Malley (he / him / his) is currently a Guest Researcher at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam.
Charles is a doctoral candidate in Dramaturgy & Dramatic Criticism at Yale, where he previously received his MFA. At Yale, he has served as the Artistic Fellow at the Yale Repertory Theatre and was co-convener of the Performance Studies Working Group, an interdisciplinary group of scholars working in Performance Studies at Yale. He has taught at both Yale College and Connecticut College.
Charles has two research works currently in progress. His dissertation, Insurgent City: Performance, Radicalism, and Queer Liberation in 1970s San Francisco, traces new aesthetic forms developed during the early years of queer liberation as artistic and sexual movements sought to create utopic spaces. He's also working on a history of the '70s performance group the Cockettes, drawn from archival materials, which places the group in their rightful place on the foreground of gender experimentation and radical performance practices. In 2020, he created the LGBTQ+ Archive Project, a digital assembly of resources for LGBTQ+ study.
As a theatre maker, Charles has worked at the Yale Repertory Theatre, the Yale Cabaret and Summer Cabaret, the Goodman Theatre, the Bay Area Playwright's Festival, Jackalope Theatre, and many other theatres. His critical writing has been published in TDR, The New Republic, Theatre Survey, QED, and on Indiewire, Lambda Literary, the DailyKos, and elsewhere.
Current Research Projects
Insurgent City: Performance, Radicalism, and Queer Liberation in 1970s San Francisco (dissertation)
This project is a history of queer performance in San Francisco throughout the 1970s, as citizens fought for political, economic, racial, and gender justice, as expectations of sexual behavior collapsed, and as the political wave of queer Leftism crested across the West Coast. The project studies numerous artists and art collectives, including the Cockettes, the Gay Men's Theatre Collective, the Mothertongue Feminist Theatre Collective, Hibiscus, Sylvester, Martin Worman, David Baker, and many others, and is drawn largely from archival research. In its entirety, the project argues that a unique form of art-making--one inextricable from the political urgencies of the queer liberation movement--flourished in California, due to its particular location at the nexus of social, racial, sexual, and gender liberation movements.
Book Project on the Cockettes
Originating in the research conducted for the dissertation, this project takes a different aim and methodology: To create a history of the Cockettes and their influence on American performance. Beginning with the performance group's first performance on New Year's Eve of 1969, this project retraces the narrative of the Cockettes--a multi-gendered radical performance group popular in San Francisco from 1970 to 1972. Originators of the performance concept of "genderfuck," the Cockettes had an outsized influence on fashion, politics, music, drag, and taste given the briefness of their moment in the sun. This history consults a wide archive and theorizes the queer sublime: the fabulous moment of passing through as one seeks the spectacular in the mundane.
LGBTQ+ Archive Project
In acknowledgement of the difficulty of conducting research during the COVID-19 pandemic, Charles assembled this database of materials for researching, studying, and teaching LGBTQ+ studies. The Project assembles a worldwide list of archives and collections dedicated to LGBTQ+ materials, resource guides for study, and online archives of queer newspaper and periodicals. The Project is open to sharing for all. The work is a living document so please do not hesitate to get in contact with additions or corrections.
(condensed; contact for complete CV)
D.F.A. Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism (in progress), Yale School of Drama
M.F.A. Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism (2018), Yale School of Drama
B.A. Drama & Art History (2011), Vassar College
Guest Researcher, University of Amsterdam (2020-2021)
Teaching Fellow, Yale College (2018-2020)
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Connecticut College (2019)
Professional Experience in Theater and Performance (selected)
Artistic Fellow, Yale Repertory Theater (2019-2020)
Literary Associate, Yale Repertory Theater (2018-2019)
Co-Convener, Performance Studies Working Group, Yale University (2018-2020)
Managing Editor, Theater Magazine, (2016-2017)
Education Assistant & Lead Guest Services Associate, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (2012-2013)
Literary Intern, About Face Theatre (2012)
Literary Management & Dramaturgy Intern, Goodman Theatre (2011- 2012)
Professional dramaturgy credits include work for the Yale Repertory Theater, Yale School of Drama, Yale Cabaret, Yale Summer Cabaret, the Goodman Theater, Jackalope Theater, and others.
Written Work (Articles and Creative Work)
“Remembering Stonewall as It Actually Was—and a Movement as It Really Is.” With Scott W. Stern. The New Republic. June 2019.
The Other World (world premiere production). Produced at the Yale Cabaret, April 2017.
“Why I’m Not Excited for The Normal Heart” On Indiewire. May 2014.
Written Work (Book Reviews)
“Other Books,” TDR. Forthcoming, 2020.
“The Bodies of Others: Drag Dances and Their Afterlives” (Selby Wynn Schwartz, Michigan 2019). Theatre Survey. Vol. 61, Issue 2, 2020.
“One-Dimensional Queer” (Roderick A. Ferguson, Polity 2019). QED: A Journal in LGBT Worldmaking. Vol. 7, No. 1, 2020.
“Stage Fright: Plays from the San Francisco Poets Theater” (Kevin Killian, Kenning 2019). Lambda Literary. June 2019.
“A Childhood of No Happy Memories” (review of The End of Eddy, Édouard Louis, DailyKos, November 2017.
Conference Presentations (selected)
“A Very Specific Anarchy: The Cockettes' Subversion, Critique, and Celebration of Gender,” American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR), Fall 2019, Arlington, VA
“Arousal of Body and Spirit in "Crimes Against Nature," American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR), Fall 2018, San Diego, CA
“Space Unsafe: Queer Grief After Pulse” Performance Studies International (PSi), Summer 2017, Hamburg, Germany
“Localizing Practices of Human Trafficking in Cora Bissett’s Roadkill,” American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR), Fall 2016, Minneapolis, MN
“Reclaiming Homosexual Intimacy in a World Beset by AIDS: Affection, Immorality, and Community in Robert Chesley’s Jerker,” Comparative Drama Conference (CDC), Spring 2016, Baltimore, MD
“Robert Chesley’s Jerker” Research Methodologies Graduate Student Conference, Yale School of Drama, Spring 2016.
Represented About Face Theatre (Chicago, IL) at Black Women’s Playwright’s Group Conference on Cyber Narrative Project at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Winter 2012, Washington DC
“Performance Studies: The Key Concepts,” Ford Scholar’s Research Symposium, Vassar College, Fall 2009
Invited Lectures (selected)
“Specific Anarchy: Subversion of Gender in 1970s San Francisco” for the Performance Studies Working Group. Fall 2019, Interdisciplinary Performance Studies at Yale.
“Angels in America” for Sources of World Drama. Spring 2019, Vassar College.
“On Brecht” for Survey of Theater and Drama. Spring 2019, Yale College.
University Service (selected)
Graduate Affiliate, Branford College, Yale University (2015-present)
Student Representative, Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism Hiring Search, Yale University (2017, 2018)
Artistic Associate for Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism, Yale Cabaret (2016-2017)
Research Assistant, Prof. Gabrielle Cody, Vassar College (2007-2011)
Awards and Fellowships (selected)
Writing Fellowship, Yale School of Drama (2020) (for doctoral work)
G. Charles Niemeyer Award, Yale School of Drama (2019) (for doctoral work)
Yale Repertory Theatre Doctoral Fellowship (2018) (for doctoral work)
Adolph Sutro Fellowship, Vassar College (2016) (for study at Yale)
Dorothy Evans Fellowship, Vassar College (2015) (for study at Yale)
Molly Thatcher Kazan Prize for Excellence in Theatre Arts, Vassar College (2011)
Departmental Distinction for Senior Thesis, Vassar College (2011)
Ann Cornelisen Fellowship for Foreign Language Study Abroad, Vassar College (2010)
Ford Scholar Grant for Summer Research, Vassar College (2009)
Honors Scholar, Grinnell College (2006)
California Arts Scholar Award, California Institute for the Arts (2005)