Christina S. McMahon

Associate Professor

Office Location

Theater Dance West, Room 2514


Theater of Africa and the Diaspora

Research methods

Race, Gender, & Sexuality in Performance


Christina McMahon is an associate professor in the Theater and Dance Department at the University of California-Santa Barbara. She is also an affiliate faculty in the Black Studies and Feminist Studies departments. Her book, RECASTING TRANSNATIONALISM THROUGH PERFORMANCE: THEATRE FESTIVALS IN CAPE VERDE, MOZAMBIQUE, AND BRAZIL, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in the award-winning "Studies in International Performance" series. She has published articles in Theatre Survey, Theatre Research International, Theatre History Studies, and the Luso-Brazilian Review. She is a past recipient of the IFTR New Scholar's Prize and a Fulbright-Hays grant.

Broadly speaking, her research interests encompass race and representation, African theater and performance studies, postcolonialism in the Lusophone world, globalization, ethnography, and gender and sexuality in performance.

Christina teaches mindfulness classes quarterly for the CARE (Campus Advocacy, Ressources & Eduaction) Office at UC-Santa Barbara, and is planning a weekly meditation series for the Health & Wellness Center for Fall 2019. She is a featured meditation teacher on the Aura, Insight Timer, and Mindbliss meditation apps. Recently, her work on mindfulness was FEATURED IN THE UCSB CURRENT.

Besides academic scholarship, Christina does creative writing in a variety of genres. Her first play, Stand By, received readings in the LAUNCH PAD program for new play development at UCSB in Spring 2014 and Summer 2016. Both were directed by Risa Brainin. She is also a contributor to Conscious Lifestyle Magazine.

As a children’s author, Christina is represented by Jenna Pocius at the RED FOX LITERARY AGENCY. Her picture book manuscript, “Just the Beginning,” won first place (“Most Promising”) at the SCBWI-CenCal Writers’ Day 2016. Current projects include a picture book adaptation of a Nigerian folktale, and an early middle-grade novel inspired by her years living on the Cape Verde Islands in West Africa.

In February 2019, Christina collaborated with Stephanie Batiste (English/Black Studies) on the symposium: "Timely Intersections: Black Histories on the Page and Stage," which united scholars and children's authors to think through creative adaptations of Black histories as both a conduit for social change and a mode of education. The symposium commemorated the Theater and Dance department's LAUNCH PAD production of playwright Cheryl West's adaptation of The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963, a Civil Rights-inspired novel by Newbery-Award winning children's author Christopher Paul Curtis. The event concluded with an interview between Mr. Curtis and Ms. West.


Research Interests

As a scholar: International theatre festivals; theatre and performance in the Lusophone world; African theatre and performance studies

As a practitioner: Children's writing (picture books and middle-grade); playwriting; personal essays


Selected publications:

Re-Casting Transnationalism through Performance: Theatre Festivals in Cape Verde, Mozambique, and Brazil. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. “Studies in International Performance” series (edited Janelle Reinelt and Brian Singleton).

“Three Readings of Reading, Pennsylvania: Approaching Lynn Nottage’s Sweat and Douglas Carter Beane’s Shows for Days. Co-authored with Courtney Elkin Mohler and David Román. Theatre Journal 68.1 (2016): 79-94.

“Alone on the (Lusophone) Stage? Circulation and Race Reflexivity in the Theatre of Mário Lúcio Sousa.” The Luso-Brazilian Review 51.2 (2014): 80-104.

“Theories of Festivals.” In Performance Studies: Key Words, Concepts, and Theories, ed. Bryan Reynolds. Palgrave Macmillan Press, Spring 2014.


Undergraduate Classes

Theater 2A: Performance in Global Contexts: Africa and the Caribbean

Theater 184AA: Special Topics in African American Theatre

Theater 184CA: African Theater and Performance

Theater 180G: Race and Gender in American Performance


1st year Exploration Seminar

Writing Picture Books for Children


Graduate Seminars 

Theater 210A: Research Methods: Ethnographic Methods in Performance Research

Theater 270A: African Theater and Drama

Theatre 251: Special Topics in Performance Studies (Race, Performance, & Pedagogy)