Mamafesto! (Why Superheroes Wear Capes)
Written and performed by Deanna Shoemaker
Video produced, directed, and edited by Chad Dell

Performance description: This feminist solo performance uses an autoethnographic approach to explore the challenges of being a working mother on the tenure-track in academia. This show is intended to raise awareness about and trouble the complex, hidden, and often impossible “balancing acts” required of mothers who work full-time and come home to a second shift. More broadly, this work calls for progressive social and policy changes for all caregivers.

Keywords: Feminist Performance, Working Mothers, Mommy Track, Family-Friendly, Work/Life Balance, Autoethnographic Performance

Credits: This video was produced with the help of a 14-person television crew and a Creativity and Research Grant from Monmouth University. The show was shot by four cameras in front of a live audience in the Monty Film and TV studio in the Plangere Center for Communication at Monmouth University on April 1, 2009. Earlier versions of this show were presented at the National Communication Association conference in Chicago, IL and The Association for Research on Mothering conference in NYC. This performance was awarded a Creative Expression Award by the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language, & Gender (OSCLG).

Notes: Mamafesto was first published as a script, along with an introductory essay and responses by Drs. Tessa Carr and Jeanine Minge on March 15, 2011 in Text and Performance Quarterly, 31.2, 190-202.

runtime: 37:11

Deanna Shoemaker is an Associate Professor of Communication/Performance Studies and Director of the MA program in Communication at Monmouth University. She holds a Ph.D. in Communication Studies with an emphasis in performance and gender studies from The University of Texas at Austin. As an artist and scholar, her research focuses on feminist performance art, critical performance pedagogies, devised performance, prison education and advocacy, and performance and/as social activism. She advises and directs “CommWorks: Students Committed to Performance” at MU. For booking information, contact Deanna at

Chad Dell is an Associate Professor of Communication at Monmouth University, where he recently completed six years as department chair. Dell teaches courses in television production, criticism, screenwriting and media policy. His research investigates the intersection of mediated communication and power, particularly through the lenses of race and gender. He is currently working with a team of researchers on a documentary video project examining the achievements and impact of a decorated African American military unit during and after WW II. Dell earned his Master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He worked for Wisconsin Public Television for six years.

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