Diego Villada

  • K. Leroy Irvis Fellow, PhD Student

Diego Villada is a K. Leroy Irvis Fellow and PhD candidate at the University of Pittsburgh. He is currently in his fifth year as a doctoral student in Theatre and Performance Studies. At Pitt, Diego has taught courses related to beginner-level performance, advanced physical acting, theatre and collaboration, dramatic literature as well as theatre history. His production work centers on movement for the stage (as a director and fight choreographer) and academic research focuses on Latin America --related to performances of culture in Colombia or Brazil. Under the tutelage of his advisor Dr. Lisa Jackson-Schebetta, Diego studies how performance is related to the construction, maintenance and shifting of identities as related to staged "authenticity" in the Americas.     

In 2017, Diego was chosen to be a Public Humanities Fellow at the renowned Kelly Strayhorn Theater in Pittsburgh's East End. He spearheaded a social media photo project that captured the diversity of audiences impacted by that non-profit's art and community programming. Additionally, in the 2017-18 calendar year, Diego was awarded a research grant by PITT's Provost office and the University Research Council to complete a series of research trips for his dissertation work. 

Diego was invited to give a lecture and workshop in 2016 as a part of the Novas Ideias Para um Mundo Melhor international lecture series at Universidade do Estado da Bahia - UNEB in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. He also completed two research trips in the summer of 2016 that focused on African American roots tourism to Bahia and the experiences related to the renown Festa da Boa Morte of Cachoeira, Bahia. 

In 2015, he presented a paper in Liverpool, England, UK as a delegate to Trans-Atlantic Dialogues on Cultural Heritage: Heritage, Tourism and Traditions organized by the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage. Diego completed a research trip in Brazil and Colombia during the Summer of 2014 where he studied the intersections of performance, heritage sites, tourism and the coffee industry.  

Aside from being a knowledge producer, Diego is also an accomplished stage director and fight choreographer. He has taught, performed, directed and/or choreographed on the east coast and abroad with companies such as: Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera (PA), City Theater (PA), Hostos Repertory Theatre (NYC), Nuyorican Poets Cafe (NYC), 3-Legged Dog Media & Theatre Group (NYC), Gallery Players (NYC), Chautauqua Theater Company (NY), New Perspectives Theatre Company (NYC), The Barksdale Theater (VA) and The Conciliation Project (VA), amongst others. 

His choreographed violence has also been featured in productions at the University of Evansville (IN), University of Pittsburgh (PA), Queensborough Community College (NYC) and the Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute (NYC). In 2013, his fight choreography was requested for the first inter-arts collaboration at the historic Chautauqua Institution (NY). The off-Broadway production of Layon Gray's Black Angels Over Tuskegee is still running in its eighth year and features Diego's imaginative movement choreography as well. 

During the summer of 2014, Diego was the Communications and Patron Services Coordinator for Chautauqua Theatre Company, resident theatre company of the internationally renowned Chautauqua Institution. Before coming to Pitt, Diego was the Director of Marketing and Communications for 3LD Art & Technology Centre in downtown Manhattan. He also worked as an Artistic Line Producer for 3-Legged Dog Media + Theatre group, a large-scale multimedia interdisciplinary performance troupe that is on the cutting edge of technology and performance. He taught theatre and speech classes at two campuses for the City University of New York during his tenure as a professional artist in the city. Diego is also a former faculty member of The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.

Research Interest Summary

Performance Ethnography, Cultural Tourism, Roots Tourism, Intangible Cultural Heritage, Staged Authenticity, Race in Cultural Performance, Immigration and Migration, Minoritarian Subjects

Education & Training

  • MFA, Theatre Pedagogy, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • BS, Psychology and Theatre Performance, University of Evansville
  • Writ of Achievement, British Studies, Harlaxton College (UK)