Jules Odendahl-James is an theater artist/scholar based in the Triangle, North Carolina.

She holds a PhD in Performance Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MFA in Directing from the University of Texas at Austin. Her most recent production work includes Machinal by Sophie Treadwell (April 2014); Uncle Vanya (in a new version by Annie Baker, November 2013); Venus by Suzan-Lori Parks; CANE based on the Jean Toomer novel of the same name by Thomas DeFrantz and Wideman Dance; and Lear by Young Jean Lee (all April 2013).


She has been the Resident Dramaturg and a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Theater Studies at Duke University since 2011. From 2010-2012 she was the Coordinating Director of Duke’s Performance and Embodied Research Colloquium (PERC). She is the advisor for the Me Too Monologues, serves on the Steering Committee for The Process Series, a new works in development unit at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Institute for Arts and Humanities, is a founding member of the Ladies of the Triangle Theater (on Twitter @TriThrLadies), and a Board Member of Hidden Voices.

Her scholarly work has appeared in HowlRound: A Journal of the Theater CommonsThe Journal of the Fantastic in the ArtsREVIEW: A Journal of DramaturgyTheater SurveyCrime, Media, CultureIn Media Res, Text and Performance QuarterlyM/C: A Journal of Media and Culture, and Theater InSight.

Other contributions include entries on the social history of forensic science for The Social History of Crime and Punishment in America (SAGE, 2012), on documentary films and filmmakers for The Encyclopedia of Documentary Film (Routledge, 2006), and on arts funding and censorship for Social Issues: An Encyclopedia of Controversies, Histories, and Debates (East River, 2006).

Her current book project, Over My Dead Body: Documentary Performance and the Forensic Imagination, explores intersections among individual trauma, public memory, and social activism by tracing the shared origins, divergent visual technologies, and complimentary narrative constructs of contemporary documentary performance and forensic media. She is also concerned with evolving archival practices surrounding staged performance in the digital age. 

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She was a founding member of Bold Maids Productions, a feminist performance company (1996 – 2003) who, in addition to producing work by women playwrights, composed a series of original scripts tackling issues of identity, sexuality, and politics through a vaudevillian approach to academic theory. Her directing work is marked by her investments in an ensemble dynamic, cross-gender casting and performance language, the work of female playwrights, and the adaptation of literature and visual texts for the stage.

As a freelance dramaturg she specializes in devised new works and documentary theater and has a particular interest in installation and online dramaturgy. In North Carolina she has worked with Playmakers Repertory Company, SLIPPAGE, Manbites Dog Theater, Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern, UNC’s Department of Dramatic Art, Company Carolina, and Duke University.

She has created and taught classes in Academic Writing, Acting, Adaptation, Dramaturgy, Group Performance, Introduction to Media Studies, Introduction to Performance Studies, Introduction to Social/Cultural Theory, Medicine, Performance and Visual Culture Performance of Literature, Performing Science, Play Analysis, Scripting & Directing, Visual Culture of Crime, and Women’s Studies.