Dr. Xiomara Cornejo (she/her/ella) is a Salvadoran American theatre director, and award-winning designer, playwright, dramaturg from Compton, California. Her professional work includes theatre directing, after-school arts programming, applied theatre, and community organizing. Xiomara received a BA in Theater Directing/Performance from California State University Long Beach. During that time, she directed José Rivera's References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot at the Museum of Latin American Art and Luis Valdez’ Los Vendidos, which toured throughout local high schools in East Los Angeles. Xiomara then received an MA in Public Art Studies from the University of Southern California, where she traveled to Central America and investigated the integration of community arts within NGOs in Guatemala and El Salvador. Xiomara received her PhD in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Missouri. While at MU, Xiomara directed and designed for main stage productions and was an Associate Director for the MU Center for Applied Theatre and Dramatic Research. For over eight years, Xiomara worked as a community organizer/supervisor under the Asset Based Community Development and Relationship-Based Community Organizing model and facilitated Neighborhood Action Councils (NAC) and after-school art programs with youth and adults throughout South Los Angeles. In collaboration with NAC members, she designed and implemented social justice community projects, including theatre, art workshops, photography exhibitions, and street murals. Xiomara was also an active member of the Occupy Movement Arts Committee in Long Beach, CA., where she utilized Theatre of the Oppressed, puppet making, and relationship-based community organizing as a vehicle for social change. She apprenticed with the legendary Bread and Puppet Theater in Vermont. During her apprenticeship, Xiomara performed in the circus productions, street parades, weekly performances, and developed skits, and constructed puppets for outdoor shows.
Xiomara’s play Voiceless received the 2022 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) National Partners of the American Theatre “Outstanding Play” award and is a national semi-finalist. In 2018, Xiomara was the KCACTF National 1st Place Winner for her Dramaturgy on Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 & 3. Xiomara was the 2017 recipient of the KCACTF National 1st Place Winner – Allied Crafts and Design for her Projection Design of Good Kids. Xiomara recently directed Marisol by José Rivera in the Rhynsburger Theatre as a live performance and film. Xiomara was the Spring 2020 recipient of the Green Chalk Teaching Award and a 2021 Mizzou 18 awardee.
Her current research, "Performing Resurrection: Upholding the Spirit and Legacy of El Salvador's Saint. Oscar A. Romero through Bread and Puppet's and MECATE's Radical Theatre Activism and Liberation Theology," was funded by the Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship in 2020, the John D. Bies International Travel Award, and the MU Dissertation Research Award in 2019. While at UIC, she has taught Premodern Theatre History during the Fall semester of 2021 and Theatre of the Oppressed, an original course, for the Fall of 2022.
Her scholarship centers on street and protest theatre, radical theatre history of the Americas, political puppetry, and circus.