Henry Bial

Chair, Department of Theatre & Dance
Primary office:
Murphy Hall
Room 356-B


A KU faculty member since 2005, Henry Bial's research and teaching specialties include performance theory, religious performance, Jewish popular culture, and theatre historiography. He holds a PhD in Performance Studies from New York University and a BA in Folklore and Mythology from Harvard University.

Dr. Bial is the author of Playing God: The Bible on the Broadway Stage (University of Michigan Press, 2015) and Acting Jewish: Negotiating Ethnicity on the American Stage and Screen (University of Michigan Press, 2005). He is also the editor of The Performance Studies Reader (Routledge, 2004; 2nd Ed. 2007; 3rd Ed. 2015), co-editor with Scott Magelssen of Theater Historiography: Critical Interventions (University of Michigan Press, 2010), and co-editor with Carol Martin of Brecht Sourcebook (Routledge, 2000). He has published articles in TDR , Theatre Topics and The Journal of American Drama and Theatre as well as several book chapters. He has served on the editorial boards of Theatre SurveyTheatre TopicsEcumenicaThe Journal of Religion and TheatreThe Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, and The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Stage Actors and Acting .

In addition to his scholarly pursuits, Dr. Bial has worked in a variety of capacities — director, performer, designer, playwright, dramaturg, and lighting operator — in university and professional theatres in New York, Kansas City, Boston, Minneapolis, and Albuquerque. A proud member of the Buran Theatre Company, he last appeared as The Man in the Purple Suit in The House of Fitzcarraldo .

Dr. Bial is a former President of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), a comprehensive non-profit professional membership organization. Founded in 1986, ATHE serves the interests of its diverse individual and organizational members, including college and university theatre departments and administrators, educators, graduate students, and theatre practitioners.


Ph.D.Performance StudiesNew York University, Tisch School of the Arts

M.A.Performance StudiesNew York University, Tisch School of the Arts

A.B.Folklore and MythologyHarvard University, Harvard College