Dr William Peterson

Associate Professor in Drama

College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

place Humanities (249)
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

Prior to coming to Flinders in 2014, Will was Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Theatre and Performance at Monash University, serving as Director of the centre from 2007-2011 and again in 2012. He was foundational academic staff in Theatre Studies at the National University of Singapore, Lecturer in Drama at the University of Waikato, and Associate Professor of Theatre at the California State University San Bernardino, also serving as Co-Director of that university's International Institute.

Will's research on community-based performance in the Philippines has been supported by research fellowships and visiting professorships at the International Institute for Asian Studies (University of Leiden), Asia Research Institute (National University of Singapore), University of Amsterdam, University of the Philippines (Diliman) and Ateneo de Manila University. His third monograph, "Asian Self-Representation at World's Fairs," is under contract with Amsterdam University Press and will appear in late 2019.

His academic publications have focused on religion, dance and theatre in the Philiippines, mass events, English-language theatre in Singapore, Maori and Pakeha theatre in Aotearoa/New Zealand, international arts festivals, and interactions between Asia and the West through performance at international expositions. In addition to undergraduate teaching, Will supervised what at one time was the world's largest cohorts of PhD students from Asian countries working on Asian performance topics. At Flinders, he is working on deeping engagement with Asian partners in the performing arts.


Ph.D., Dramatic Arts, University of Texas at Austin

M.A., Dramatic Arts, San Diego State University

Graduate Certificate in Higher Education, Monash University

B.S.F.S., Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service

Honours, awards and grants
  • Rob Jordan Book Prize, Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama, and Performance Studies, for Places for Happiness: Community, Self, and Performance in the Philippines, 2018.

  • Finalist, Best Book in the Social Sciences, International Convention of Asia Scholars, for Places for Happiness: Community, Self, and Performance in the Philippines, 2017. This is the most competitive book prize in Asian Studies globally.

  • Honourable Mention, Marlis Thiersch Prize, Australasian Theatre, Drama & Performance Studies Assn (ADSA), 2013. Award for research excellence for “La Ville Sensuelle: Seeking a ‘Better City, Better Life’ in the French Pavilion,” Access 31.2 (2012): 39-51.

  • Commendation, Marlis Thiersch Prize, ADSA, 2011. Award for research excellence for “Performing Indigeneity in the Cordillera: Dance, Identity and Politics in the Highlands of Luzon.” Asian Theatre Journal 27.2 (2010):246-268.

  • Teacher of the Year, CSUSB Panhellenic Council, 2001. University-wide teaching award for excellence in teaching.

Key responsibilities

Primary duties involve teaching and curriculum development for undergraduate and honours subjects in theatre and performance, supervision of postgraduate (RHD/PhD) students, and maintaining an active, international research profile, which has largely been in the fields of community-based performance in the Philippines, religious performance, intercultural performance, and transactions between Asia and the West at international expositions. At Flinders University, Will contributes regularly to public forums on the arts, and particularly to expanding exchanges with Asia in the performing arts. Will hopes to ensure that graduates of this course, along with the many BA students studying drama as well as the large number who take it as a teaching subject, continue to play important roles in the cultural landscape of this state and in Australia, while they go out into the world with a deeper understanding of and engagement with Asia and its many diverse cultures.

Teaching interests
  • research methods (hons)
  • festivals and performance curation
  • live art/performance art
  • musical theatre
  • Asian performance
Supervisory interests
Asian performance
Community-based performance
Practice-led research
Social performance
Higher degree by research supervision
Principal supervisor: PhD, Tets Kimura, "Contemporary Japanese Fashion as a Vehicle of Cool Japan: A Case Study of Soft Power in Australia" (1)
Principal supervisor: PhD, Colette Keen, "Behind the Words: The Art of Documentary and Verbatim Theatre, PhD, Arjun Raina, "Locating the “Sociopsychophysical” in One-on-one Kathakali Actor Training: Reconciling the “Old Social” with the “New Social” in an Australian Context" (1), PhD, Nitya Nagarajan: Beyond Bharatanatyam: Re-visions, Ruptures and Resistance in the Feminist Choreographies of Anita Ratnam and Mallika Sarabhai (1), MA, Lisa Petty, "Social Dance in Australia's World War II Dancehalls" (1), MA, Dominic Golding, "Being White: Art and writings by Transnational Adoptees" (1), MA (Co-Supervisor), Alvaro Levis de Bittencourt, "Anthropophagous Actors: A Polyphonic Acting Rehearsal Practice" (1), MA (Co-Supervisor), Emiliano Grasso, "The Concept of Community in Selected Plays by First and Second Generation Italian-Australian Playwrights" (1)
Associate supervisor: PhD, Tiffany Knight, "‘Just the Actor’: A Practice-Led Research Investigation into the Actor’s Status in Contemporary Independent Theatre" (1), PhD, Tharanga Dandeniya, "The Temple Gateway Model and Trancultural Passage: Conditions of Disempowerment and Disorientation in the Staging and Receptio of Cultural Identities (1), PhD, Marlenny Deenerwan, Positioning Bangsawan for a Contemporary Malaysian Audience with a New Framework for Transmitting Rahman B.'s Conventions (2015) (1), PhD, Alamgir Hossain: Jatra in Bangladesh; Colonisation and Jatra; Ethnographic Study on Jatra; Revival or Jatra (2016) (1), PhD, Nita Moghaddam, "Foreground and SignificationL A Socio-Semiotic Approach to the Plays of Sam Shepard" (1), MA, Katerina Kokkinos-Kennedy, "THE HOUSE PROJECT: hedda gabler the remix" (1), PhD, Edwin Arthur Creely, "An Ethno-Phenomenological Study of Actors' Experiences of Performing Theatre" (1)
Higher degree by research student achievements
Arjun Raina

Best Student Publication, 2015, Faculty of EHL, "The Art of Creating a Kathakali Performer's 'Presence'" - APR 2016

Tiffany Knight

Adelaide Fringe Best Theatre Award for "19 Weeks" - MAR 2017

Tiffany Knight

Runner-Up, Made-In-Adelaide Prize for "19 Weeks." Funding to take production to Edinburgh - MAR 2017

Expert for media contact
South-East Asia
Available for contact via
Or contact the media team
+61 8 82012092
0427 398 713
Media expertise
  • Drama
  • Globalisation
  • South-East Asia
  • Theatre
Further information

See profile and articles in The Conversation at: https://theconversation.com/profiles/william-peterson-300678

The Conversation

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