Associate Professor Sharon Mazer

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Academic appointments:

  • Professor, Theatre & Performance Studies, Auckland University of Technology (2019 - ongoing)
  • Associate Professor, Theatre & Performance Studies, Auckland University of Technology (2015 - 2019)


  • PhD, Columbia University
  • MPhil, Columbia University
  • MA, UCLA
  • BA, Reed College


Sharon Mazer is Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies in Te Ara Poutama, the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Development. She earned her PhD at Columbia University in 1991, writing about Middle English Drama, after a career as a theatre director in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and Portland, Oregon. While she is perhaps best known for her work on popular performance – in particular, for her book Professional Wrestling: Sport and Spectacle (1998; 2020) - her current research focuses on diverse aspects of theatre and performance in Aotearoa New Zealand. She is on the editorial boards of Performance Research, Performance Paradigm and Theatre Annual.

Research interests:

My research is focused on the question of how theatrical events enact ideas of identity and culture, and how performance works to activate audiences toward affirming and/or challenging the dominant social order. I look at how the relationship between performers and spectators is staged in diverse contexts: from Māori and Pacific theatre and performance, to popular performance practices and performance in everyday life. In this, I seek to foster the development of a distinctive NZ-centred brand of Performance Studies, while contributing significantly to local and global conversations in this interdisciplinary discipline.

Teaching summary:

A new minor in Popular Culture and Performance will be launched in 2020.

Fields of research:

  • Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies

Professional activities:

    Editorship, reviewing, examining, and judging

    • Editorial Board Member, Performance Research (2017 - ongoing)
    • Editorial Board Member, Theatre Annual (2013 - ongoing)
    • Editorial Board Member, Performance Paradigm (2005 - ongoing)

    Research outputs:

    Featured research outputs


    Journal articles

    • Mazer, S. (2019). A Bicultural Dream in Aotearoa New Zealand: (De)Colonising Shakespeare?. Te Kaharoa: the eJournal on Indigenous Pacific Issues, 12(1), 1-14. doi:10.24135/tekaharoa.v12i1.271

    • Mazer, S. (2019). Uneasy Reckonings: A response to “The Theorist and the Theorized: Indigenous Critiques of Performance Studies” by Stephanie Nohelani Teves (TDR 62:4 T240). TDR/The Drama Review, 63(2), 195-199. doi:10.1162/dram_a_00851

    • Mazer, S. (2018). New Hazardscapes for Old: Rupture, Resilience, Resistance. Performance Research, 23(4-5), 111-115. doi:10.1080/13528165.2018.1506547

    • Mazer, S. (2018). Donald Trump Shoots the Match. TDR/The Drama Review: Journal of Performance Studies, 62(2), 175-200. doi:10.1162/DRAM_a_00713

    • Papesch, T. R., & Mazer, S. (2016). Breaking the stage: From Te Matatini to Footprints/Tapuwae. Te Kaharoa: The eJournal on Indigenous Pacific Issues, 9(1). Retrieved from

    • Mazer, S. (2016). Missing the drama: Staging communities without conflict. Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, 30(2). doi:10.1353/dtc.2016.0011

    • Baker, T., Mazer, S., & Looser, D. (2016). 'The vessel will embrace us': Contemporary Pacific voyaging in Oceanic theatre. Performance Research, 21(2). doi:10.1080/13528165.2016.1162518

    • Mazer, S. (2015). Quake city. Performance Research, 20(3). doi:10.1080/13528165.2015.1049058

    • Mazer, S., & Papesch, T. R. (2015). But can it be Art? Kapa Haka as a contemporary indigenous performance practice. Te Kaharoa: The eJournal on Indigenous Pacific Issues, 8(1). doi:10.24135/tekaharoa.v8i1.38

    • Mazer, S. (2015). A case for creative misunderstanding. Te Kaharoa, The eJournal on Indigenous Pacific Issues, 8(1). Retrieved from

    • Mazer, S. (2014). Here as elsewhere: Thinking theatrically/acting locally. Antipodes: A Global Journal of Australian/New Zealand Literature, 28(1). Retrieved from

    • Mazer, S., Rodger, V., Troon, S., Reynolds, R., A Different Light Theatre., Willis, E., & Parker, G. (2013). Reflections on theatre and performance in the (post-) earthquake zone. Australasian Drama Studies, 62. Retrieved from

    • Mazer, S. (2013). Skirting burlesque. Australasian Drama Studies, 63. Retrieved from

    • Mazer, S. (2011). Performance: Ethnographer/Tourist/Cannibal. Australasian Drama Studies, (59), 104-120.

    • Mazer, S. (2011). You talkin' to me? Eavesdropping on the conversation at Te Matatini Māori performing arts festival. Performance Research, 16(2). doi:10.1080/13528165.2011.578729

    • Mazer, S. (2011). Performing Māori: Kapa Haka on the Stage and on the Ground. Popular Entertainment Studies, 2(1), 41-53.

    • Mazer, S. (2011). Native Drag: Mika on the Mirror Ball Stage. Theatre Annual: A Journal of Performance Studies, 64.

    • Mazer, S. (2004). Los verdaderos luchadores no se usan mascaras / Real wrestlers don't wear masks. Luna Córnea, (27), 270-275.

    • Mazer, S. (1994). "She's So Fat . . . ": Facing the Fat Lady at Coney Island's Sideshows by the Seashore. Theatre Annual: A Journal of Performance Studies, (47), 11-28.

    • Mazer, S. (1994). The Power Team: Muscular Christianity and the Spectacle of Conversion. TDR, 38(4), 162-188.

    • Mazer, S. (1990). The Doggie Doggie World of Professional Wrestling. TDR, 34(4), 96-122.

    Book chapters

    • Mazer, S. (2017). The game of life. In B. Chow, E. Laine, & C. Warden (Eds.), Performance and professional wrestling (pp. 196-206). London & New York: Routledge. Retrieved from

    • Mazer, S. (2013). A national theatre in New Zealand? Why/not?. In Theatre and performance in small nations (pp. 107-122). Bristol, UK & Chicago, USA: Intellect Books. Retrieved from

    • Mazer, S. (2007). Atamira Dance Collective: Dancing in the Footsteps of the Ancestors. In M. Maufort, & D. O'Donnell (Eds.), Performing Aotearoa: New Zealand Theatre and Drama in an Age of Transition (pp. 283-292). Brussels: P.I.E. Peter Lang S.A..

    • Mazer, S. (2005). "Real" Life. In N. Sammond (Ed.), Steel Chair to the Head: The Pleasure and Pain of Professional Wrestling (pp. 67-87). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

    • Mazer, S. (2002). Watching Wrestling / Writing Performance. In H. Jenkins, T. McPherson, & J. Shattuc (Eds.), Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture (pp. 270-286). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

    • Mazer, S. (2000). Real Men Don't Wear Shirts. In P. Tait (Ed.), Body Show/s: Australian Viewings of Live Performance (pp. 114-123). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

    Edited books/volumes

    • Mazer, S. (2018). The Intricate Art of Actually Caring, and Other New Zealand Plays. Calcutta, India: Seagull Books. Retrieved from