Laurelann Porter is a native of Arizona. She received her BFA in Independent Theatre Studies from Boston University; her MFA in Playwriting from Arizona State University; and her PhD in Theatre and Performance of the Americas from Arizona State University. As part of her dissertation research she conducted an ethnographic study of women in Itacaré, Bahia, Brazil. Part of her...
Laurelann Porter is a native of Arizona. She received her BFA in Independent Theatre Studies from Boston University; her MFA in Playwriting from Arizona State University; and her PhD in Theatre and Performance of the Americas from Arizona State University. As part of her dissertation research she conducted an ethnographic study of women in Itacaré, Bahia, Brazil. Part of her ethnographic study includes analyses of the Dance Festival of Itacaré and the Festival of Quilombo Culture.
Laurelann is also a playwright and performer. As part of her research she has performed her solo performance “How not to Make Love to a Woman” in order to understand how performance can contribute to public dialogue about difficult topics. She is also developing a new performance piece entitled “Sympathy for Exú.” “Sympathy for Exú” incorporates elements of Afro-Brazilian mythologies, in particular stories of the trickster figure, Exú.
Laurelann has directed and produced several short films, music videos, and two feature length documentary films. She has recently been collaborating with Amy Funk, a nursing professor and ethnographer whose research revolves around sibling grief. Their new ethnodrama, “27 Signs” has had public readings in Mesa and Tempe, Arizona and had a workshop production at Illinois Wesleyan University in April of 2018. Their continued work seeks to explore and understand how the play can offer therapeutic effects for audiences who have experienced the loss of a sibling.
Laurelann also recently collaborated with Rising Youth Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona on a project called the Trouble Series. The results of this year of collaboration and research was a devised performance titled “The 100th Day” in which topics relating to student push-put in public and charter schools in Maricopa County are addressed by youth engaged in their community. Porter served as story consultant and sound & media designer for the production.
The next major project on the horizon for Laurelann is the development of a collaborative project with Brazilian choreographer Mestre Monza Calabar. Porter and Calabar recently purchased a small piece of property in rural Bahia, Brazil where they will build a center for research and cultural exchange. This center will be called ile ogbon ati aye, or “House of Living Wisdom.” The work will be an interdisciplinary approach to theatrical investigations as a mode of understanding cultural anthropology of Afro-Brazilian histories and mythology. She plans to return often to Itacaré and to Bahia to weave her research interests together through community-based arts practices, performance ethnography, and documentary film work.
In addition to her work as a professor, scholar, and artist, Laurelann serves as the Literary Manager for the Bridge Initiative, an organization dedicated to achieving gender parity in all theatrical disciplines. In this capacity Laurelann has acted as the contest coordinator for the last three contests sponsored by the Bridge Initiative, including the first ever “Bechdel Test Festival” in September of 2017.