Jessica Nakamura

Associate Professor

Office Location

Theater Dance West, Room 1512


Asian Theater and Performance

Performance Art and Visual Culture

Performance Historiography


Ph.D., Theater and Performance Studies, Stanford University

M.F.A., Asian Theater Directing, University of Hawaii at Manoa

B.A., Theater, Swarthmore College


Dr. Jessica Nakamura is a scholar of Japanese and Transpacific theater and performance whose research interests include performance historiography, ethics and spectatorship, performance art and visual culture, and global performance theories. She is the author of Transgenerational Remembrance: Performance and the Asia-Pacific War in Contemporary Japan (Northwestern University Press, 2020) about performances that portray previously obscured topics of Japanese war aggression and imperialism. Focused on the Heisei period (1989-2019), a time when the generation with direct experiences of the war passes away, Transgenerational Remembrance identifies performances that forge dialogue between younger generations and elided memories. She is also co-editor of the volume, Realisms in East Asian Performance (University of Michigan Press, 2023). The volume reexamines definitions of theatrical realism by locating realistic expression across premodern, modern, and contemporary theaters in China, Japan, and Korea.

Dr. Nakamura’s current research project, Staging the Private, explores representations of the domestic in Japanese theater across the postwar and contemporary periods (1945-present). Staging the Private traces continuities and changes in Japanese theater’s reproduction of private spaces to consider how theater disseminates, repeats, and challenges nation-affirming notions of the home and related ideas of family and gender. 

Her writings have also appeared in journals, including Modern Drama, Performance Research, Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, and Verge: Global Asias and in edited volumes, including Performance in a Militarized Culture, Performing the Secular, and Theatre After Empire.

Dr. Nakamura has trained in Japanese Dance, Japanese Kyogen, Chinese Beijing Opera, and Balinese Dance. Her directing work includes productions of Gao Xingjian’s Wild Man and her English-language translation of contemporary Japanese playwright Matsui Shū’s, Family Portrait. She also occasionally serves as a dramaturg for new work.


East Asian and Transpacific theater and performance, material and visual culture, performance historiography, global performance theories, theories of the everyday


Asian Theater and Performance, Asian American Theater, History of Directing, Performance and Protest
Critical Methods, Performance Historiography, Theories of the Everyday, Global Performance Theories