Mark Sussman, MA, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Theatre
on administrative leave Jan. 1 - Dec. 31, 2019
Mark Sussman is a theatre artist and scholar working on the animation of public space, material dramaturgies, puppetry and object performance, and the integration of old and new technologies in live performance. He earned MA and PhD degrees from the Department of Performance Studies at New York University, receiving the Michael Kirby Memorial Award for his doctoral dissertation on 18th and 19th Century stagings of the new technology of electricity. He joined Concordia's faculty and moved to Montreal in 2005. He served for six years as Associate Dean, Academic Affairs in the Faculty of Fine Arts and is now Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre. He also advises graduate students in the PhD Humanities and Individualized programs.
Prior to teaching at Concordia, he has taught at New York University, Barnard College, Wesleyan University, UQÀM (DESS en arts de la marionnette contemporarin), and the Parsons School of Design at the New School. At Concordia, he has taught performance studies and studio-based courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, with a focus on such topics as performance and the contemporary city, material performance and performing objects, performance ethnography, puppetry, queer theatre, and the epic theatre tradition.
Sussman is a founder and co-artistic director of Great Small Works, an OBIE and UNIMA/Jim Henson Award-winning theatre collective based in New York City. Since 1995, Great Small Works has been producing new theatre works on a variety of scales, from miniature toy theatre pieces using two-dimensional cutouts and live montage, to giant parades, community processions, and circuses. The company specializes in the reinvention of ancient, popular, and avant-garde performance techniques in contemporary contexts, creating variety evenings, international festivals, and community-based projects in addition to discrete performance works featuring puppets and objects. With Great Small Works, he was artistic director for Bienvenue à Tourne-York, a large-scale outdoor carnival commissioned by the town of Tournefeuille, France (2009). He has also worked as a performer, designer, and producer the company's ten International Toy Theater Festivals (1991-2013). He led a recent workshop in the form of "toy" or "paper theatre" with the Assemblea de Feminismo Communitario in La Paz, Bolivia (2016).
As part of his ongoing research based at Concordia, and in collaboration with Roberto Rossi of Great Small Works, he is at work on a two new performance projects, one based on the writings of Robert Walser and another titled "Tales from the Anthropocene," which had its premiere at the Dukketeaterfetival, Bornholm, Denmark (September, 2015.)
Apart from Great Small Works, Sussman has collaborated over ten years with writer/director Allen S. Weiss, with whom he created Theater of the Ears / Théâtre des Oreilles (CalArts/LaMama/Charleville-Mézières/Paris/Avignon, 1999-2001) and Danse Macabre, an installation-performance using dolls created by Paris-based artist Michel Nedjar, most recently at the In Transit Festival in Berlin (2009).
In Montreal, he is the founder and member of the collective organizing Café Concret, an occasional cabaret of experimental puppetry and object-based performance, a forum for new works in a variety of media. And in 2014, he was the Academic Convener for the Manifest: Choreographing Social Movements in the Americas, the 9th Encuentro of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics at New York University, bringing more than eight hundred artists, scholars, and activists from across the Americas to the Concordia campus and the city of Montreal.
Sussman is a Co-Investigator of the Canadian Consortium on Performance and Politics in the Americas, a SSHRC Partnership group based at the University of Manitoba. He is a member of the Artistic Committee of Casteliers, the organization devoted to producing and diffusing the art of puppetry in Quebec and internationally; and in Fall, 2015 joined the Board of Directors of Montreal's Studio 303.
Sussman's writing has appeared in TDR (The Drama Review), Connect, Stagebill, Cabinet, Radical Street Performance (Routledge, 1999), and Puppets, Masks, and Performing Objects (MIT, 2001). His article "Notes on New Model Theaters" can be found in The Routledge Companion to Puppetry and Material Performance (2014). An updated essay on New York's Circus Amok can be found in The Routledge Circus Studies Reader (2016). In 2018-19, he is working with the Café Concret collective on Moving Parts, a three-part residency, public symposium, and publication project exploring the movement vocabularies shared across the fields of puppetry and dance. The symposium took place in December, 2018 at Concordia's Theatre Department and the project continues in 2019 with work on a group publication, in collaboration with Erin Hill and Jesse Orr.
Photo credit: O. Marra
Photo credit: M. Sussman
Photo credit: Erik McGregor