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Research Interests:
Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences
Discipline: Theatre and Performance Studies
Pillar / Cluster: Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences


Dr Cheng Nien Yuan is a Singaporean performance scholar, educator and dramaturg. She is currently Faculty Early Career Award (FECA) Fellow. Nien’s work involves the practice and poetics of storytelling in the digital age, and more broadly, the creative praxis of performance-making within and outside of the theatre. Her current research projects include examining intercultural acting pedagogies and rehearsal processes of established theatre institutions and companies in Singapore. Her research has been published in Critical Stages, Studies in Theatre and Performance, Oral History Review, and Performance Paradigm.

At SUTD, Nien is excited to foster connections between dramaturgical thinking and design processes. For instance, she hopes to investigate the relationships between embodied performance and the technologies enabling human-machine interaction and AR/VR experiences. She is also keen to explore the role performance plays in placemaking and sustainable development. Nien completed her PhD in Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Sydney in 2020 and her thesis won the 2021 John Legge Prize for Best Thesis in Asian Studies.

Key Publications

  • Cheng, N. Y. 2021. “Rehearsing ‘Karen’: The Dramaturgy and Politics of Cross-cultural Digital Theatre.” Critical Stages/Scènes Critique 23.
  • Cheng, N. Y. 2021. “When/If Performance Studies Came to Singapore.” Studies in Theatre and Performance 41:1. 40-49.
  • Cheng, N. Y. 2018. ‘“This is my doodle”: Non-participation, Performance, and the Singapore Memory Project.’ Performance Paradigm 14. 64-85.
  • Cheng, N. Y. 2018. ‘“Flesh and Blood Archives”: Embodying the Oral History Transcript.’ Oral History Review 45: 1. 127-142.
  • Cheng, N. Y. 2017. “Globalisation, Transgression, and the Call to Performance Studies.” About Performance 14/15. 261-284. [Special issue: 30 years of Performance Studies in Sydney University]
Cheng Nien Yuan