Miguel Escobar Varela, PhD

I am a web developer, translator and theatre researcher who has lived in Mexico, The Netherlands, Singapore and Indonesia. I work as Assistant Professor of Theatre Studies at the National University of Singapore and director of the Contemporary Wayang Archive. My main research interests are Indonesian theatre and digital humanities. In my work I apply computational methods to the study of theatre and develop interactive websites to share theatre scholarship online. Current projects include: computational stylometry of Javanese theatre, quantitative close reading of performance videos, biomechanic analysis of dance and network analysis of theatre collaborations. If you want to get in touch, please drop me a line: contact [at] miguelescobar.com or follow me @migueljogja.

Digital Research Projects:

My PhD dissertation on contemporary Indonesian theatre, which was awarded the Wang Gungwu Medal for the best dissertation in Humanities and Social Sciences (2015), is available as an online, interactive platform at wayangkontemporer.com

The Contemporary Wayang Archive (CWA) is a digital archive of new versions of Java's oldest performance tradition: wayang kulit. This archive includes full-length video recordings, performance data, translations, and notes by the editors and translators of how the performances were received in their original context.

The Interactive Wayang Screen is a Tangible User Interface for the Contemporary Wayang Archive. Using the traditional components of the wayang kulit puppet theatre of Java and Arduino sensors, it enables users to naviagete through the video collection of the archive by performing the conventional actions of the dalang (wayang kulit puppeteer) .

Academic publications

'The Archive as Repertoire: Transience and Sustainability in Digital Archives', in Digital Humanities Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 4 (2016).

'A Quantitative Close Analysis of a Theatre Video Recording' (With Gea Oswah Fatah Parikesit) in Digital Scholarship in the Humanities (forthcoming).

'Heirlooms of the Everyday: The Material Performances of Slamet Gundono' in Theatre Research International, Vol. 41 No. 1 (2016), pp. 53-69.

'Hacking and Rehearsing, Experiments in Creative Tinkering' in New Theatre Quarterly, Vol. 32, No. 01 (2016), pp. 68-77

'The essay/ontology workflow, challenges in combining formal and interpretive methods' in Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, Vol. 31, No. 1 (2016), pp. 84-94.

'Wayang Hip Hop: Java's Oldest Performance Tradition Meets Global Youth Culture' in Asian Theatre Journal, Vol. 31, No. 2 (2014), pp. 481-504.

'International, A Dialogue' (with Paul Rae) in Contemporary Theatre Review, Special Issue: The Politics, Processes and Practices of Editing, Vol. 25, Issue 1 (2015).

'Between Radical Adaptation and Strategic Adaptability: Ki Catur "Benyek" Kuncoro in Conversation with Miguel Escobar' in Margherita Laera (ed), Theatre and Adaptation: Return, Rewrite, Repeat (London: Methuen, 2014).

'The Intermedial Interrogation of Memory' in Performance Research, Vol. 17, Issue 3 (2012), pp. 33-38.

'Nieuwe-mediafestivals als Voedingsbodem voor Diversiteit' [New Media Festivals as Seedbeds for Diversity] in Boekman Tijdsdschrrft, Vol. 83 (2010), pp. 88-92.

'Ruang Rupa: Experimental Video Workshops and Activism in Indonesia' in Paul de Buryne and Pascal Gielen (eds), Community Art: The Politics of Trespassing (Amsterdam: Valiz, 2010), pp. 287-298.


Papers in academic conferences

'The Archive as Repertoire' at Digital Densities, Digital Humanities Incubator, University of Melbourne, Australia, March 2015.

'Digital Essays as Tools For Cultural Mediation' at DHA14: Digital Humanities Australasia, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, March 2014.

'The Contemporary Wayang Archive: A Digital Inquiry into the Ethics and Aesthetics of a Theatre Tradition', poster presentation, at the 3rd Annual Meeting of the Japanese Association for Digital Humanities, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan, September 2013.

'Wayang Hip Hop: Java's Oldest Tradition Meets Global Youth Culture', at Global Encounters in Southeast Asian Performing Arts, Bangkok University, Bangkok, Thailand, February 2013.

'Intermediality in Wayang Kulit', at PSi Performance Studies international #17 - Camillo 2.0, Utrecht, The Netherlands, May 2011.


Theatre work

I am often a guest performer/rapper with Wayang Hip Hop in Indonesia (Second from left in the image).

I was a performer in The Mountain (dir. Felipe Cervera), in the 2014 M1 Singapore Fringe Festival: Art and the People (Second from left in the image).