UCI Drama Professor Daphne Lei, Ph.D. Wins Distinguished Scholar Award

Daphne P. Lei (Ph.D. ’99), professor of doctoral studies in the UCI Claire Trevor School of the Arts (CTSA) Department of Drama, has received the 2022 Distinguished Scholar Award for outstanding achievement in scholarship in the field of theatre studies. Presented by the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR)—an international theatre research organization that fosters scholarship in the performing arts—this lifetime achievement award is given to a scholar whose body of work has significantly contributed to theatre, dance, opera, or performance studies. Lei is the first Asian American to receive this distinction in ASTR history.

“ASTR’s Distinguished Scholar Award is the highest honor of my profession and I’m truly humbled by this recognition. I’m inspired to push new boundaries in theatre research,” said Lei.

A Tufts University alum and Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University, Lei has received international acclaim for her academic work in Chinese opera, Asian American theatre, and intercultural, transnational and transpacific performance. Her research focuses on intercultural exchanges across the Pacific, especially interactions between Asian and non-Asian cultures.

From 2015 to 2018, Lei also served as president of the ASTR—its first president of color—and is the author of three monographs: Operatic China: Staging Chinese Identity Across the Pacific (Palgrave, 2006); Alternative Chinese Opera in the Age of Globalization: Performing Zero (Palgrave, 2011); and Uncrossing the Borders: Performing Chinese in Gendered (Trans)Nationalism (Michigan, 2019).