Beth Osnes
Associate Professor • Co-Director of Graduate Studies in Theatre & Performance Studies

Room C1B84, University Theatre Building
261 UCB, Boulder CO, 80309-0261

M.A. and Ph.D. University of Colorado, Theatre
B.A. Marquette University, Theology

Beth Osnes PhD, is an Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of Colorado Boulder, and is an associate of the Environmental Studies faculty.

I am a theatre and performance studies artist/scholar who is active in applied performance and creative climate communication. I engage in performance to co-author and actualize an equitable, survivable, and thrive-able future for all life and the ecosystems upon which all life relies. This applied approach to performance is explicitly for positive social change and is characterized by process-oriented work on an issue identified by the community. It often takes place in a non-traditional performance space (live or digital) by participants who may not identify as performers, and the work together need not result in a performance: the critical reflection and resulting social action that emerge from the process are paramount. My approach is highly interdisciplinary, borrowing theoretical foundations and histories of practice from women and gender studies, feminist ecology, voice pathology, education, environmental studies, sustainable development, and applied theatre.

As an Associate Professor of Theatre and Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado I co-director of Inside the Greenhouse, an initiative for creative communication on climate, I toured an original musical Shine to Rockefeller Foundation 100 Resilient Cities locations to facilitate youth voices in resilience planning, and published the book Performance for Resilience: Engaging Youth on Energy and Climate through Music, Movement, and Theatre. Open Source Materials for Shine are available through the Climate Literacy & Energy Awareness Network. As co-founder of SPEAK I recently co-published a curriculum for vocal empowerment for young women’s civic voices that is evidence-based with Dr. Chelsea Hackett and the MAIA Impact School in Guatemala. My book Theatre for Women’s Participation in Sustainable Development includes my work specific to gender equity in Panama, Guatemala, India, Nicaragua and the Navajo Nation. My life as the youngest of a family of ten and my mother activist work is featured in the award-winning documentary Mother: Caring for 7 Billion. My book, The Shadow Puppet Theatre of Malaysia-A Study of the Wayang Kulit with Performance Scripts and Puppet Designs, is an in-depth study of Malaysian shadow puppet theatre based on research and performance training as a Fulbright Scholar in Malaysia.

As co-founder of the former Mothers Acting Up (2002-2011), I toured a program in partnership with Philanthropiece Foundation entitled, the MOTHER tour, to locations around the world to create a global community of mothers moving from concern to action on behalf of their most passionate concerns. The tour included an original one-woman performance (M)other and a workshop I developed entitled Empowering Mother Voices. In conjunction with this program I developed a methodology specific to gender equity in clean energy development using theatre as a tool to include the voices of the women living in poverty in the planning and implementation of development projects in Panama, Guatemala, India, Nicaragua, Namibia, and the Navajo Nation. I presented on this work at the World Renewable Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi in 2010, the World Renewable Energy Forum in Denver in 2012, and the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio in 2012. 

I live in Boulder, Colorado with my life partner, JP, with whom I have raised three children, Peter, Melisande, and Lerato. Each of them has contributed significantly to what I have been able to create. Check out my personal website for examples of my creative work, from Moving Murals to Solar-Powered Shadow Puppet Theatre.


Osnes, Beth. (2017). Performance for Resilience: Engaging Youth on Energy and Climate Through Music, Movement, and Theatre. London: Palgrave Pivot.

---. (2014). Theatre for Women’s Participation in Sustainable Development. New York: Routledge.

---. (2011). The Shadow Puppet Theatre of Malaysia-A Study of the Wayang Kulit with Performance Scripts and Puppet Designs. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc.

---. (2001). Acting: An International Encyclopedia. Denver: ABC-Clio.

Osnes, Beth, Chelsea Hackett, Jen Walentas Lewon, Norma Baján & Christine Brennan. (2019) “Vocal Empowerment Curriculum for young Maya Guatemalan women” Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 10 (3), 313-331. DOI: 10.1080/19443927.2019.1637371

Osnes, Beth, Max Bokoff, & Patrick Chandler. (2019). “Good natured comedy to enrich climate communication.” Comedy Studies. 10(2), 224-236, DOI: 10.1080/2040610X.2019.1623513.

Boykoff, Max and Beth Osnes. (2019). “A Laughing Matter? Confronting climate change through humor.” Political Geography. 68(1), 154-163. DOI:

Osnes, Beth. (2018). “Youth Shine in Performance for Resilience.” Theatre Topics. 2(3), 191-202. DOI:

---. (2018). “Youth Shine in Musical Theatre for Sustainability.” The Journal of Sustainability Education. March 2, 2018.

---. (2016). “Mothers empowering their voices for activism.” Voice and Speech Review. 4(1), 1-15. DOI:

Hackett, Chelsea and Beth Osnes. (2016). “The Hammer and the Carpenter: Lessons from the Field for Effective Professional Development by   Teaching Artists.” Teaching Artist Journal. 14(1), 41–45, DOI: 10.1080/15411796.2016.1155909

Osnes, Beth, Adrian Manygoats & Lindsay Weitkamp. (2015). “A Framework for Engaging Navajo Women in Clean Energy Development Through Applied Theatre.” RIDE: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance. 20(2), 242-257. DOI; 10.1080/13569783.2015.1019445

Anne U. Gold, David J. Oonk, Lesley Smith, Maxwell T. Boykoff, Beth Osnes & Susan B. Sullivan (2015). “Lens on Climate Change: Making Climate Meaningful Through Student-Produced Videos,” Journal of Geography, 114(6), 235-246 DOI: 10.1080/00221341.2015.1013974

Osnes, Beth, and Angela Hunt. (2014). “Solar-Powered Shadow Puppetry in High School Science Classroom ‘Illuminates’ a Navajo Student Energy Forum.” Applied Theatre Research, 2(2),165-181, DOI: 10.1386/atr.2.2.165_1

Osnes, Beth, and Mark Gammon. (2013). “Striking The Match: A Web-Based Performance To Illuminate Issues of Sustainability and Ignite Positive Social Change.” Sustainability: The Journal of Record. 6(3), 167-170. DOI:10.1089/sus.2013.9864

Barbara C. Farhar, Beth Osnes, Priyadarshini Karve, Long Seng To, and Nicole Speer. (2012). “Engaging Women in Clean Energy    Solutions Workshop at the World Renewable Energy Forum (WREF2012), 13 May 2012, Denver, Colorado, USA.” Gender & Development, 20(3), 616-617. DOI: 10.1080/13552074.2012.731759

Osnes, Beth. (2012). “Voice Strengthening and Interactive Theatre for Women’s Productive Income-Generating Activities in Sustainable Development.” Journal  of Sustainable Development. 5(6), 49-56. DOI: 10.5539/jsd.v5n6p49

---. (2010). “Empowering Women’s Voices for Energy Justice.” Colorado Journal of International Environmental Law and Policy, 21(1), 341-354.

---. (2008). “Remembering the Price and Worth of Freedom: The Story of Two Burmese Comedians.” South Asian Popular Culture. 8(1), 75-79.

---. (2004). “Mothers Acting Up: A Political Force to be Reckoned With!” Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering. 6(1), 109-111.

---.(1992). "The Evolving Shadow Puppet Theatre of Malaysia,” Asian Theatre Journal. 9(1), 112-116. DOI: 10.2307/1124252

---. (1990). “Creating a Dramatic Script for Dynamic Classroom Learning," Education. (Spring), 283-288.

Osnes, Beth. And Sarah Fahmy. (Forthcoming). “Green Suits: Embodied Public Spectacle Greening Our World.” In Zoie Mcneill and Martin Zebracki (Eds.),

Politics as Public Art: The Aesthetics of Political Organizing and Social Movements.

Osnes, Beth. Chelsea Hackett, Sarah Fahmy, and Lianna Nixon. (Forthcoming). “Young Women’s Voices for Change.” In Lisa S. Brenner, Chris Ceraso, and Evelyn Diaz Cruz (Eds.), Applied Theatre and Youth. New York: Routledge.

Chandler, Patrick., Osnes, Beth, and Boykoff, Max. (2020). “Creative Climate Communications: Teaching from the Heart Through the Arts” In J. Henderson & A. Drewes (Eds.), Teaching Climate Change in the United States (pp. 172 -185). London: Routledge.

Boykoff, Maxwell. Beth Osnes, Rebecca Safran. (2018). “Contando historias sobre la ciencia del cambio de climatico: Dentro del Invernadero.” In G. Gomez and B. Leon (Eds.), La Communicación Audiovisual de la Ciencia. Madrid: Editorial Sintesis.

Osnes, Beth, Max Boykoff, and Rebecca Safran. (2017). “Student Content Production of Climate Communication.” In Peter Berglez, Ulrika Olausson, and Mart Ots (Eds.), What is Sustainable Journalism? Integrating the Environmental, Social, and Economic Challenges of Journalism (pp. 93-112). New York: Peter Lang.

Osnes, Beth. (2015). “Kids Aren’t Cute.” In Nadya Burton (Ed.), Natal Signs: Cultural Representations of Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting (pp. 317-320). Toronto: Demeter Press.

Farhar, Barbara, Beth Osnes, and Elizabeth Lowry. (2014).   “Energy and Gender.” In Antoine Halff, Benjamin Sovacool and Jon Rozhon (Eds.), Energy Poverty: Global Challenges and Local Solutions (pp. 152-179). New York: Oxford University Press.

Osnes, Beth. (2014). “Mud Bath.” In Sheena Wilson and Diana Davidson. (Eds.), Telling Truths: An Anthology on Mothering (pp.248-251) (Eds.). Toronto: Demeter Press.

Osnes, Beth, and Jason Bisping. (2014). “Theatre for Energy Justice.” In Lawrence Frey and David Palmer (Eds.), Teaching Communication Activism: Communication  Education for Social Justice (461-484). New York: Hampton Press Inc. This book awarded the 2015 Distinguished Edited Book Award from the Applied Communication Division of the National Communication Association.

Osnes, Beth, and Juliana Forbes. (2011). “Mothers Acting Up.” In Andrea O’Reilly (Ed.), The 21st Century Motherhood Movement (pp. 732-745). Toronto: Demeter Press.

Osnes, Beth. (2009). “Maternal Autobiography in Performance,” In Andrea O’Reilly and Silvia Caporale Bizzini (Eds.), From the Personal to the Political: Towards a New Theory of Maternal Narrative (pp. 124-139). Selinsgrove: Susquehanna University Press.

---. (2009). “Performing Mother Activism.” In Shari MacDonald (Ed.), The Maternal is Political: Women Writers at the Intersection of Motherhood and Social Change (pp. 280-284). Berkeley, CA: Seal Press.

---. (2005). “Mothers of All the World’s Children.” In Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans (Eds.), Stop the Next War Now: Effective Responses to Violence and Terrorism (pp. 80-82). San Francisco, California: Inner Ocean Publishing.

Osnes, Beth, and Shira Dickler. (2018). Shine- Mini climate change musical. Open Educational Resource (OER) available through Climate Literacy & Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN), funded by NOAA, NSF, NASA, and the Department of Energy, CLEAN’s collection of climate and energy educational resources are rigorously reviewed to ensure scientific accuracy, pedagogic effectiveness, and classroom readiness for k-12 to university teaching. 19 pages.

Osnes, Beth and Chelsea Hackett. (2020). SPEAK: Young Women’s Vocal Empowerment Curriculum and Training Manual. This is an evidence-based and field-tested curriculum for mentors, teachers, community workers, parents, or anyone who is regularly meeting with groups of young women for the purpose of empowerment. It is active, student-centered, and creative. It invites students to use their voices for self and civic advocacy, and guides facilitators in creating opportunities for their groups to use their voices for change. 282 pages. 

Osnes, Beth. (2012). “Engaging women’s voices through theatre for energy development.” Renewable Energy, 3. 2012. DOI:

---. (2001) “Report from Burma: Fear of Laughing,” Turning Wheel: The Journal of Socially Engaged Buddhism. 6 (1), pp. 71-75. DOI: 10.1080/14746680701878570

Osnes, Beth. (2010). “Mothers Acting Up.” In Andria O’Reilly (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Motherhood (pp. 851-2). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishing.

---. (2007). “Dance: South and Southeast Asia.” In Vinay Dharwadker (Ed.), World  Encyclopedia of Popular Culture (pp. 40-53). Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.

---. (2007). “Theatre: South and Southeast Asia.” In Vinay Dharwadker (Ed.), World Encyclopedia of Popular Culture (pp. 320-334). Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.

---. (1999). “Paul Meredith Potter.” American National Biography (pp. 749-750). Oxford University Press.

Osnes, Beth. (2020) “It Starts with Us: Young Women’s Reflections on Performance Intersecting with Climate.” Howl Round Theatre Commons. Part of the Theatre in the Age of Climate Change series, edited by Chantal Bilodeau,

---. (2011). ”Mother Tour Inspires Mothers for Social Action.” Mother Warrior Voice (20-22).

---. (2007). “What Remains in Shadow.” Evoke Journal. 1, 13-21.

---. (2005). “Social Responsibility.” In Connie Correia Fisher and Joanne Correia (Eds.), Mothers Know Best (pp. 330-333). Collingswood, New Jersey: Small Potatoes Press.

---. (2005). Twice Alive: A Spiritual Guide to Mothering Through Pregnancy and the Child’s First Year. Boulder, Colorado: Woven Word Press.

---. (2003). “Walking Tall for Children’s Rights.” Mothering Magazine. (September-October), 26.

---. (2002). “As a Preschooler” Parabola: Myth, Religion, and the Search for Meaning. (Winter), 123.

---. (2000). “Cornucopia.” Mothering Magazine. (September-October), 76.

---. (2018). [Review of the book Women in the Shadows: Gender, Puppets, and the Power of Tradition in Bali, by Jennifer Goodlander]. Theatre Survey. 59 (1), 125-127.

---. (2009). [Review of the performance The Objectification of Things, by Michelle Ellsworth]. Theatre Journal.  61(3), 489-90.