Whit Emerson has directed or acted in over 50 productions in his 17 years as a theatre artist. His directing work includes Hidden in this Picture by Aaron Sorkin and Just Wishes by M. Jane Boggs at Appalachian State University, The Dark Lady of the Sonnets by George Bernard Shaw and Hidden in This Picture by Aaron Sorkin at The University of Central Florida. Whit also directed a modern English one-act version of Romeo and Juliet for graduate and undergraduate students at The University of Science & Technology of China in Hefei, China. Professionally, Whit directed and produced The Aqua Saga by Ira Sargent at The Orlando International Fringe Festival in 2014. At Indiana University he has directed two Chinese language plays in translation, Flower and Sword by Ma Sen and selections from I Love XXX by Meng Jinghui.
As an actor, Whit has performed in various plays at the professional, educational, and community level. Most recently he could be seen onstage as Lennox in Indiana University’s mainstage production of Macbeth. Other roles include Porter Miligram in Deathtrap and Leslie Bromhead in No Sex Please, We’re British, both at Theatre UCF and as Scrooge in Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol at South Lake Community Arts Connection in Montverde, FL. He was also involved in devising a new play based on area schoolchildren’s writings in The Writes of Spring 2012, performed at the Orlando Repertory Theater. His favorite children’s theatre roles include The Hairy Man in Wiley and the Hairy Man and Dim Witt in The Emperor’s New Clothes, both through Appalachian Young People’s Theatre. At Appalachian State University Whit played Isaac Newton in a new bilingual translation of Die Physiker/The Physicists by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Sylvestro in Scapino!, Matt of the Mint in The Beggar’s Opera, Al in A Dead Man’s Apartment and The Policeman in The Good Woman of Szechwan by Bertol Brecht. Whit was a founding member of the 4Players Troupe and played Phillip in their debut performance of The Shape of Things in Boone, NC.
During his time at Appalachian State University, Whit lead a team of 4 freshmen students to win the 2004 Freshmen Film Fest with his short film TYRO. Whit has appeared in several student films shot in North Carolina and Florida as well as producing and directing three 24 hour film festival shorts. He played the recurring role of the angry boss Kenny in the webseries Lifers.
Whit Emerson graduated Magna Cum Laude from Appalachian State University with a degree in Theatre Arts and minor in Chinese. He finished his Master’s in Theatre Studies at the University of Central Florida in the fall of 2013 and is currently a PhD candidate in theatre history, theory, and literature at Indiana University. Whit’s doctoral research explores how artists use theatre to construct identities that reflect the modern global city of Hong Kong. His dissertation examines both creative ideas and practical performances in the region, as well as how theatre artists in this community understand and react to the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty. The project provides a new perspective on the performance of the avant-garde theatre group Zuni Icosahedron and places them within the landscape of theatrical production in Hong Kong as well as in conversation with the global avant-garde theatre movement.
Journals such as Theatre Topics and Asian Theatre Journal have published Whit’s book reviews. He has also presented papers on Chinese theatre at the Association for Asian Performance conference as well as at both the Florida and Georgia Theatre conferences. Whit gained a love for China and its culture during his undergraduate studies at Appalachian State University, spending a summer and then a semester abroad studying theatre alongside Mandarin Chinese. Thus, mentoring students to engage in a similarly transformative experience through cultural exchange is a priority for him. For his Master’s thesis, Whit wrote, produced, and directed a play titled All of Chinese Literature Condensed, a comedy based on ten important works of Chinese literature that sought to educate american audiences about Chinese culture. He has been committed to incorporating global theatre texts in all of his courses, teaching students how to critically engage with unfamiliar cultural practices and political ideas.
A native of Orlando, Whit loves to travel. His other interests include reading science fiction and fantasy books, craft beers, history, cooking, lifting weights, politics, gaming, and martial arts.