Peter Davis (theater historian)

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Peter A. Davis is a professor of theatre history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with specialties in early American theatre, Restoration theatre and Eighteenth Century cultural history. His research interests include the economic and social influences of theatre in addition to First Amendment and censorship issues related to live performance. His articles and reviews are found in the leading theatre journals, including, Theatre Survey, Theatre History Studies, Journal of American Drama and Theatre, Modern Drama, Theatre Research International, Restoration & 18th century Studies, Journal of American History and Theatre Journal. He was a major contributor to The Cambridge History of American Theatre (1999), winner of the Barnard Hewitt Award from the American Society for Theatre Research and the Special Jury Award of the Theatre Library Association. He also contributed major essays to The American Stage, Engle and Miller, eds. (Cambridge), The Cambridge Guide to American Theatre, Wilmeth, ed. and Inventing Times Square, William R. Taylor, ed. (Russell Sage Foundation). He was a 1988 recipient of an NEH research grant to study in effects of the Panic of 1873 on the American theatre industry.[1]

He is the author of From Androboros to the First Amendment: A History of America's First Play (University of Iowa Press, 2015). Another book, The Stage in Crisis, on the economic history of the American stage in the Nineteenth Century is due out in 2017 published by Palgrave-Macmillan. He is also the author of the blog, "Eidophusikon: Today in Theatre History." Additionally, Professor Davis has delivered numerous academic papers at leading conferences and is a frequent and popular lecturer on American theatre history around the world, including recent presentations in Canada, England, Spain, Greece and The Netherlands.


In addition to his academic work, he is also an award-winning stage director, actor and dramaturg, having worked with a number of major theatre companies in San Francisco, Los Angeles and especially Chicago, including Remy Bumppo, Defiant, Strawdog, Writer’s Theatre, and Steppenwolf. In 2007, he acted in the original world-premiere production of August: Osage County at the Steppenwolf Theatre, performing the role of Bill on stage as Jeff Perry’s understudy. Awards include the 2006 revival of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man with Remy Bumppo (After Dark Award for Best Ensemble, Jeff Nomination for Best Ensemble) and The Philadelphia Story (2008 Jeff Nomination for Best Production), also with Remy Bumppo. He served as the resident dramaturg at Remy Bumppo Theatre Company from 2004 to 2008, and was the dramaturg for Sonia Flew at Steppenwolf in 2006 and for The Turn of the Screw at Writer’s Theatre in 2007.

As a director, he has worked on dozens of productions, winning both regional and national awards from the American College Theatre Festival. In 1985, his production of Excursion Fare was performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. as the ACTF recipient of Best Original Play. He also won the ACTF’s Best Director of the Year award from Region IX. He is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, Literary Managers and Dramaturgs Association, and The Society for Stage Directors and Choreographers. He is also one of the co-founders of BrandZOO, which was featured in an article on Business Wire in October 2000. Peter A. Davis attended Bowdoin College, Stanford University and the University of Southern California, where he received an M.A. in Drama (Directing) in 1977. He earned his PhD in Communication-Drama, also from USC, in 1981. In 2013, Davis was elected an ensemble member of Remy Bumppo Theatre Company in Chicago. He appeared in their fall 2014 production of Maxwell Anderson's Both Your Houses performing the role of Simeon Grey. In 2016, he performed the role of Colonel Pickering in Remy Bumppo's staging of "Pygmalion".

Film career[edit]

Davis has appeared in several films as an actor. He starred in Press Start (2007) as Count Nefarious Vile and reprised this role for the 2011 sequel Press Start 2 Continue. He also lent his voice to the popular Sim Film Freespace 2 and for Rampage (Korkusuz), where he is the voice of Ziya/Commander.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10]


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  2. ^ Department of Theatre | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Retrieved on October 21, 2011.
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  4. ^ Dark Maze Studios. Retrieved on October 21, 2011.
  5. ^ The Cambridge History of American Theatre – Academic and Professional Books – Cambridge University Press. (August 14, 1998). Retrieved on October 21, 2011.
  6. ^ Remy Bumppo Theatre Company – Chicago Theater | Remy Bumppo Theatre Company – Chicago Theater. Retrieved on October 21, 2011.
  7. ^ Bowdoin College. Retrieved on October 21, 2011.
  8. ^ Writers' Theatre – Located in the heart of Chicago's North Shore. Retrieved on October 21, 2011.
  9. ^ Home | University of Iowa Press. Retrieved on October 21, 2011.
  10. ^ IntelleCapital Announces Breakthrough Innovation Training Program.. Free Online Library. Retrieved on October 21, 2011.