Payne Banister

  • PhD Student

Payne Banister (any pronouns) is a drag entertainer, educator, and scholar originally from North Vernon, IN. Payne is a first year PhD student in the Theatre and Performance Studies program at the University of Pittsburgh. Their research explores queer nightlife performance with a focus on the historical, cultural, and geographic contexts that informs where and how these performances occur.

They are the Assistant Literary Manager for Constellation Stage and Screen in Bloomington, Indiana, where they assist with season selection and new play development. Payne also serves as a member of the American Theatre Archive Project’s Steering Committee.
As a drag entertainer, Payne performed as a reoccurring house cast member at The Back Door, which is Bloomington, Indiana’s only dedicated queer performance venue. Over the course of four years, they performed in, produced, and hosted several drag events. In addition to The Back Door, they have performed at several venues throughout Indiana and the St. Louis area.

Payne has presented their work at the American Society for Theatre Research. They earned an AM in Theatre and Performance Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Their Master’s Essay explored the complex and precarious labor issues facing drag performers in the St. Louis area. They have a BA in Theater and Drama with a minor in Gender Studies from Indiana University—Bloomington.

Research Interest Summary

Queer and Feminist Studies; Nightlife; Performance as Activism; Cultural Memory; Archives

Education & Training

  • AM, Theater and Performance Studies, Washington University in St. Louis, 2022
  • BA, Theatre and Drama, minor in Gender Studies, Indiana University, 2015