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Aviva's Story

A graduate of the College of Wooster, Aviva Neff received her Master of Arts with distinction from Goldsmiths, University of London. Her Master’s thesis, “From Oppressed to Possessed: Performance Protest as a Means of Overcoming “Discovery” and Diaspora” forms the basis of her doctoral research at the Ohio State University, in contemporary Mixed-Race and Black American performance, the witnessing of trauma, and Applied Theatre. Aviva is currently researching the evolution of the “tragic mulatta” stereotype throughout literature, history, and performance through Practice-as-Research methods. Aviva’s interest in American History and devised theatre has led her to develop this work into a solo performance which will be filmed in Spring 2021.


As an actor, Aviva has appeared in performances such as Sarah Kane’s Crave, Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, and Migdalia Cruz’s Las Meninas. Aviva is a member of Teatro Travieso and appears in The Women of Ciudad Juarez, which recently celebrated its 6th year of international touring. Aviva is a confident director, collaborator, and emerging playwright—recent works include a 2020 filmed adaptation of As You Like It: a film for young audiences. As You Like It will premiere in Columbus area middle and high schools in Spring 2021, complete with an interactive dramaturgy display about pastoral comedies in the age of a pandemic. Aviva was recognized by "HistoryMatters," a non-profit dedicated to supporting productions of plays by historic women playwrights. Aviva was awarded a “Back to the Future” grant in 2018 for staging a recreation of Georgia Douglas Johnson’s famed “S Street Salon” as a performance, coffee hour, and community engaged event for Black community members in Columbus.


Aviva’s extensive background as an Applied Theatre facilitator guides much of her performance praxes, which she considers to be accessible, politically driven, and liberatory. Aviva served as a Lead Devisor for the inaugural performance of "Be the Street," a community outreach project made possible by OSU’s Theatre Department in 2018. Aviva has continued to collaborate with Be the Street as a consultant since its conception.


Aviva continues to work in the Columbus community by hosting storytelling events and volunteering with local organizations.

Aviva is a passionate educator who enjoys teaching writing intensive classes that focus on media studies and African American performance. Aviva is a recipient of an Alumni Grant for Graduate Research Support and a Global Arts & Humanities Discovery Fellow, both through the Ohio State University. Aviva’s experience teaching pre-K through 12th grade prior to collegiate instruction strengthens her love of interactive classrooms as well as her gratitude to be working with adults. Aviva also loves anime, music, and true crime, and would love to talk to you about these things over a strong cup of tea!

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