Main content

Cobina Gillitt

Assistant Professor of Theatre and Performance

Cobina has been teaching at Purchase since 2014. Professionally, she works as a dramaturg, a translator of Indonesian plays, and is a member of Teater Mandiri based in Jakarta, Indonesia.

More About Me

I have been a member of Jakarta-based Teater Mandiri since 1988. For over 30 years, I have been performing and holding workshops with this leading theatre group in Indonesia and internationally, as well as serving as its company manager. Most recently, I played the role of Mrs. Co in JPRUTT in May, 2018 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

I am an active member of the PEN Translation Committee and Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA). I have also served on the Board of Directors of PSi (Performance Studies International), Pentacle (an artist management support service and dance education organization) and was a member of the Theatre Arts Selection Committee for Fulbright for three years (2014, 2015, and 2016).

Research Interests

Dramaturgy and translation, Asian theatre and performance theory, interculturalism and the performance of culture, as well as American and European 20th-21st century avant-garde theatre theory, history, and practice.

Representative Courses

  • THP 2020 Introduction to Theatre and Performance Studies
  • THP 2885 Theatre Histories I
  • THP 3000 Dramaturgy
  • THP 3155 The Theatrical Avant-Garde: East-West Connections
  • THP 3170 Theatricality and Interculturalism
  • THP 3250 Theories of Drama and Performance
  • THP 3260 Theatre and Asia
  • THP 3725 Adapting Literature for Performance
  • THP 3890 Junior Seminar


Several of my translations of Indonesian plays into English can be found in anthologies, some of which I have edited and for which I have written the introductions, including:

  • Gillitt, Cobina, “Bedfellows” (Kawan Tidur)” by Hanna Fransisca in New Indonesian Plays ed. Cheryl Robson, Aurora Metro Books, 2019:144-169.
    • My recent translation of Bedfellows by Hanna Fransisca was read at the International Indonesian Dramatic Reading Festival in London, 2019.
  • Gillitt, Cobina OH by Putu Wijaya in 100 DRAPEN by Putu Wijaya Jakarta: Pentas Grafika, 2018: 695-709
  • Gillitt, Cobina et al., eds. The Islands of Imagination I: Modern Indonesian Plays University of Hawaii Press, 2015.
    • Includes my “Introduction” and translations of Ought by Putu Wijaya and Make Note by Rita Matu Mona
    • Published in conjunction with the 2015 Frankfurt Book Fair where Indonesia was the guest country.
  • Gillitt, Cobina, ed. The Lontar Anthology of Indonesian Drama, Volume 3: New Directions, 1965–1998 University of Hawaii Press, 2017/Lontar Foundation, 2010.
    • Includes my “Introduction” and translations of Ought by Putu Wijaya, Noah’s Ark II by Aspar Paturusi, Puti Bungsu: The Last-Born Woman by Wisran Hadi (trans. with Kirstin Pauka and Eddy Pursubaryanto), and Via Negativa by Noorca Marendra Massardi (trans. with Evan Winet).
  • An excerpt of my translation of Shaytan by Putu Wijaya is in the January 2017 issue of the online journal AsymptoteClick on the play title to read the translated scene. The original Indonesian version is also available at the link.

Other publications include:

  • Gillitt, Cobina, “Founders of the Field: Rachel Cooper” Asian Theatre Journal Volume 34, Number 1, Spring 2017: 169-187.
  • Gillitt, Cobina “A Legacy of Theatricality: Antonin Artaud’s Encounter with Balinese Gamelan” in Performing Indonesia. eds. Andrew McGraw and Sumarsam New Series, Vol. 5 Freer Occasional Papers Series, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC., 2016. Click on title above to read online.
  • Gillitt, Cobina, “Afterword by the Dramaturg” Dirty Paki Lingerie by Aizzah Fatima. New York: NoPassport Press, 2015: 58-61.
  • Gillitt, Cobina “How the Fish Swims in Dirty Water: Antigone in Indonesia” in Antigone on the Contemporary World Stage eds. Helene Foley and Erin Mee. Oxford University Press, 2011: 156-167.
  • Gillitt, Cobina, “Founders of the Field: Richard Schechner” Asian Theatre Journal vol. 30, no. 2 (Fall) 2013: 276-294.
  • Gillitt, Cobina, “Indonesian Theatre and its Double: Putu Wijaya Paints a Theatre of Mental Terror” Performance of the Senses eds. Sally Banes and André Lepecki. New York and London: Routledge. 2006: 191-199.

Plus several other articles in the Asian Theatre Journal, The Drama Review, and Theatre Survey, as well as numerous contributions in encyclopedias including The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Stage Actors and Acting, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance, Columbia Encyclopedia of Modern Drama, among others, primarily about Indonesian theatre practitioners, performance genres, plays, and theatre companies.

  • You can hear me speak about contemporary Indonesian Theatre and my experience as a member of Jakarta-based Teater Mandiri in Theatre History Podcast #64: Learning about Modern Indonesian Theatre with Dr. Cobina Gillitt. July, 2018. A HowlRound Theatre History PodcastClick on link to hear.

Presentations / Conferences

Recent conference papers include:

  • “Regulating Morality in Indonesia: a View from the Theatre” The 19th Northeastern Conference (NEC) on Indonesia: “On Rising Fear, Anxiety, and Producing the ‘Other’ in Indonesia” Yale University, April 2019
  • FATIMAH:  Indonesian Theatre as Education and Entertainment” Fatimah’s World: The Hadhrami in Indonesia: A Festival of Diversity University of Indonesia, Depok, Indonesia, April 2018
  • “Cultural Traps and Mishaps: Translating Local Cultures on Stage” Association for Asian Performance Annual Conference, Las Vegas, August 2017
  • “Defining the Field: What is Asian Theatre Studies?” Association for Asian Performance Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada, July 2015
  • “Contemporary Asian Theatre in Globalization” (Plenary) International Conference on Theatre ISBI Bandung, Indonesia, November, 2014
  • “The Role of the Dramaturg: Problematic Necessity?” Re-Imagining Dramaturgy. The Snapple Theatre, New York, NY October 2014

Talks and Panels include:

  • Panelist for “Translator Panel Discussion: How Did This Play Get into English?” for The Inaugural Columbia University School of the Arts International Play Reading Festival feat. N. Riantiarno (Indonesia), Raeda Taha(Palestine), and Rinat Tashimov (Russia), New York, June 2018
  • Jury, Festival Drapen (Short Play Festival), Galeri Indonesia Kaya, Jakarta, Indonesia, April, 2018
  • Discussion Moderator, A Reading and Discussion of Ghost Light: The Haunting by Carol Fisher- Sorgenfrei, Association for Asian Performance Annual Conference, Las Vegas, August 2017
  • Panel Organizer, Translation/Localization/Adaptation: Working Across Cultures for Association for Asian Performance Annual Conference, Las Vegas, August, 2017
  • Leader, post-performance discussion on my dramaturgy for My Heart is in the East by Jessica Litwak, director: Jen Wineman, La Mama ETC, New York, NY June 2017
  • Panelist, post-performance discussion, The Emma Goldman Trilogy, H.E.A.T. Collective & Theatre Without Borders, THEATRELAB, New York, NY, March 2016
  • Panelist, “Expressive Expedients,” a PEN Translation Event at the Brooklyn Book Festival Bookend Events, Brooklyn, NY, September 2015
  • Discussant, post-performance panel on dramaturgy and theatre for social change, My Heart is in the East, La Mama ETC, New York, NY, May 2015
  • Panelist, post-screening talk and discussion of The Act of Killing (2012) by Joshua Oppenheimer at The Sunday Film Series, Brooklyn, NY, June 2014
  • Curator, “Translating the Spoken Word: A Proper Challenge” hotINK Lark/PEN American Center Collaboration moderated by Judith Miller. Lark Play Development Center, New York, May 2014
  • Moderator, post-screening discussion with director of Promised Paradise (2006) by Leonard Retel Helmich, UnionDocs Center for Documentary Art, Brooklyn, NY, May 2013.
  • Panelist, Translation for the Theater: a hotINK at the Lark/PEN American Center Collaboration moderated by Caridad Svich. Lark Play Development Center, New York, NY, April 2013.
  • Curator and Moderator, Developing A Revolution: The Stages of Spring Awakening with Mary McCann, Frank Wood, Phoebe Strole and Brian Charles Johnson. DramaTalk, Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, March 2013

Exhibitions / Performances

Representative dramaturgical work includes: 

  • Bedfellows by Hanna Fransisca, reading directed by Rosamund Hutt First Date: New Indonesian Plays Ovalhouse, part of the International Indonesian Dramatic Reading Festival and in conjunction with the 2019 London Book Fair, where Indonesia was the guest country, London (2019)
  • Time Bomb by N. Riantiarno, directed Ed Sylvanus Iskandar, The Inaugural Columbia University School of the Arts International Play Reading Festival (2018)
  • The Golem: A Horror Opera co-conceived with Elizabeth Swados, with music, lyrics  and direction by Elizabeth Swados, Stageworks, NYU (2015)
  • My Heart is in The East by Jessica Litwak, directed by Sabrina Peck, La Mama ETC (2015)
  • Dirty Paki Lingerie by Aizzah Fatima, directed by Erica Gould, The Flea (2013)
  • Clive by Jonathan Marc Sherman, directed by Ethan Hawke, The New Group (2013)
  • Company book by George Furth, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, directed by Kenneth Noel Mitchell, New Studio on Broadway, NYU (2013)
  • Spring Awakening book and lyrics by Steven Sater, music by Duncan Shiek, directed by Kenneth Noel Mitchell, Stageworks, NYU (2013)
  • Myself is in Pieces by Kate Maracle, reading directed by Erica Gould, Peter J. Sharpe Theatre, New York (2013)