Dr. Jennifer Roberts-Smith

Dramatic Arts

Chair, Department of Dramatic arts

PhD English, University of Toronto, 2007
MA Drama, University of Toronto, 1996
BA Hons English, University of King’s College/Dalhousie, 1994

Office: MWS 313

Dr. Roberts-Smith is an artist-researcher, whose transdisciplinary work in performance, digital media, design, education, and social justice has appeared in theatres, exhibitions, and scholarly publications internationally. She is interested in the ways that theatre offers people with differing perspectives, expertise, and lived experience opportunities to work together toward better futures. JRS is the founder and co-convenor of the qCollaborative (qcollaborative.com), an international, intersectional feminist design research lab focused on performance and technology. Her recent projects have supported community-driven interventions into cycles of harm perpetuated by systemic racism in Nova Scotia (in the Digital Oral Histories for Reconciliation project); reconciliation in post-conflict zones in Colombia (in Design for Peace); women’s prison reform (in Theatre for Relationality); and disability rights (in Aesthetics for Accessibility and Remote Embodied Synchronous Teaching and Learning for Accessibility ). JRS currently directs Staging Better Futures/Mettre en scène de meilleurs avenirs, a cross–Canada, industry-academic partnership to integrate anti-racism, decolonization, equity, diversity, and inclusion into post-secondary theatre education. She began her career as an actor and director in Canadian theatres and taught at the Universities of Ottawa, Toronto, Windsor, and Waterloo before joining Brock in 2022. She is a recipient of the Ontario Early Researcher Award.

Roberts-Smith, Jennifer, Milena Radzikowska, and Stan Ruecker, eds. Prototyping Across the Disciplines: Designing Better Futures. Fishponds, Bristol: Intellect Books, 2021.

Gibson, Lindsay, Jennifer Roberts-Smith, with Kristina R. Llewellyn, Jennifer Llewellyn, and the DOHR team. “A New Approach to Virtual Reality in History Education: The Digital Oral Histories for Reconciliation project (DOHR).” In Innovative Digital Practices in History and Social Sciences Education, edited by Mario Carretero and María Cantabrana Carassou. New York: Springer. 11 pages. In press: forthcoming in 2022.

Aikman, Lisa, Jennifer Roberts-Smith, and Stan Ruecker, with Kate Crozier, Jessica Hutchison, Carin Lowerison, Signy Lynch, May Nemat Allah, Julie Thompson, Matt White, and Hannah Watts. “Theatre for Relationality: A Relational Approach to Design Research.” In Impacting Audiences, edited by Matt Omasta and Dani Snyder-Young. Oxfordshire: Routledge. 13 pages. In press: forthcoming in 2022.

Roberts-Smith, Jennifer, Shana MacDonald, and Brianna Wiens. “I can(‘t) do that: the multimangle of theatrical vibrancy.” In Theatre and New Materialisms/Théâtre et Nouveaux matérialismes, edited by Hervé Guay, Jean-Marc Larrue, and Nicole Nolette. Montréal: Presses de l’Université de Montréal. 199-215. In press: forthcoming in 2022.

Roberts-Smith, Jennifer. “What Can Shakespeare Offer VR? ” In Stephen Wittek and David McInnes, eds. Teaching Shakespeare in Virtual Reality. Cambridge: Cambridge Elements, 2022. 4-11. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009003995

Wiens, Brianna, Stan Ruecker, Jennifer Roberts-Smith, Milena Radzikowska, and Shana MacDonald. “Materializing Data: New Research Methods for Feminist Digital Humanities.”Digital Studies/le Champ Numérique 10, no. 1 (2020): n.p. [14 pages]. DOI:http://doi.org/10.16995/dscn.373.

Roberts-Smith, Jennifer and Justin Carpenter, with Kristina R. Llewellyn, Jennifer J. Llewellyn, Tracy Dorrington-Skinner, Gerald Morrison, Tony Smith, and the DOHR Research Team. “Relational Presence: Designing VR-based Virtual Learning Environments for Oral History-based Pedagogy.” Special Issue: Extended Reality. Ed. Amanda Licastro, Victoria Szabo, and Angel David Nieves. Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, no. 17 (2020): n.p. [19 pages]. https://jitp.commons.gc.cuny.edu/relational-presence-designing-vr-based-virtual-learning-environments-for-oral-history-based-resorative-pedagogy/.

Roberts-Smith, Jennifer and Shawn DeSouza-Coelho. “Shakespeare, Game, and Play in Digital Pedagogical Shakespeare Games.” In Games and Theatre in Early Modern England, edited by Tom Bishop, Gina Bloom, and Erika T. Lin. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2021. 275-301.

Jenstad, Janelle, Mark Kaethler, and Jennifer Roberts-Smith, eds. Shakespeare’s Language in Digital Media: Old Words New Tools. Abingdon, Oxfordshire: Routledge, hardcover 2017; paperback 2020.

Roberts-Smith, Jennifer (Creative Direction), Paul Cegys (Digital Scenography), William Chesney (Scenography), Arda Kizilkay (Technical Design), Colin Labadie (Sound), Robert Plowman (Narrative Design), Tracy Dorrington-Skinner (Stories), Gerald Morrison (Stories), Tony Smith (Stories), Kristina Llewellyn (Production), Jennifer Llewellyn (Production), and the DOHR Research Team.  The Home: The Digital Oral Histories for Reconciliation Virtual Reality Experience. Special Event: Canadian National Exhibit. Prague Quadrennial of Performance and Space. Curated by Snezana Pezic. Prague, CZ, July 9, 2019.

Roberts-Smith, Jennifer, Mark Kaethler, and Toby Malone, with Liza Giffen, Martin Holmes, Janelle Jenstad, and Joseph Takeda. “Tagging Time and Space: TEI and the Canadian Stratford Festival Promptbooks.” Digital Studies/Le champ numérique 9, no. 1 (2019): 9, n.p. [16 pages]. https://doi.org/10.16995/dscn.307.

Radzikowska, Milena, Jennifer Roberts-Smith, Xinyue Zhou, and Stan Ruecker “A Speculative Feminist Approach to Project Management.” SDRJ: Strategic Design Research Journal, no. 12.1 (Jan/Apr 2019): 94-113. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4013/sdrj.2019.121.07.

Ferronato, Priscilla, Lisa Mercer, Jennifer Roberts-Smith, and Stan Ruecker. “Living Labs and the DH Centre: Lessons for Each from the Other.” Ed. Luis Meneses. Special Issue: INKE Beyond Open: Implementing Social Scholarship. KULA: Knowledge Creation, Dissemination, and Preservation Studies 3, no. 1 (Feb 2019): 14, n.p. [7 pages]. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/kula.46.

Ruecker, Stan and Jennifer Roberts-Smith. “Design Research: Objects, Procedures, and New Understanding.” Technology | Architecture + Design 2, no.1 (2018): 11-14.

Ruecker, Stan and Jennifer Roberts-Smith. “Experience Design for the Humanities: Activating Multiple Interpretations.” In Making Humanities Matter. Ed. Jentery Sayers. Debates in the Digital Humanities, edited by Matthew Gold and Lauren Klein. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017. 259-270.

Ruecker, Stan and Jennifer Roberts-Smith. “Concept Models for Design Practice.” Bitacora 27, no. 4 (2017): 11-18.

Roberts-Smith, Jennifer. “Théâtre et humanités numériques. Du développement des outils aux design experimental. [Theatre and the digital humanities: from tool development to experience design].” Translated by Ioana Galleron. Special Issue: Études théâtrales et humanités numériques. Revue d’Historiographie du Théâtre, no. 4 (2017): n.p. [16 pages].

Roberts-Smith, Jennifer, Shawn DeSouza-Coelho and Toby Malone. “Staging Shakespeare in Social Games: Towards a Theory of Theatrical Game Design.” Special Issue: Shakespeare and Social Media, edited by Maurizio Calbi and Stephen O’Neill. Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare Appropriation 10, no. 1 (2016), n.p. [19 pages].

Director. “Staging Better Futures/Mettre en scène de meilleurs avenirs.” Co-director Nicole Nolette (French, Waterloo). SSHRC Partnership. $2.5m. Stage 1 application submitted Feb 2022; results expected June 2022.

Co-applicant. “Collaborative Digital Heritage Studio (CoDHerS).” PI Aynur Kadir (Communication Arts, Waterloo). Canadian Foundation for Innovation. $325,000. CFI awarded; BC provincial results expected Spring 2022.

PI. “Remote Embodied Synchronous Teaching and Learning for Accessibility.” Co-applicant Oliver Schneider (Engineering, Waterloo). E-Campus Ontario Virtual Learning Strategy. $100,000.

Co-applicant. “Incorporating Social Justice into Haptic VR Storytelling.” PI Oliver Schneider (Engineering, Waterloo). Tri-agency New Frontiers in Research Fund. 2021-23. $250,000.

Collaborator. “Avatars in Support of Commercial Airline Competency-Based Training: Demonstration Phase 1.” Co-PIs Suzanne Kearns (Geography) and Shi Cao (Systems Design Engineering). Contract research under NDA. $23,000.

PI. “Staging Better Futures: Anti-racism, decolonization, equity, diversity, and inclusion in theatre in higher education in Canada.” Co-applicant Nicole Nolette (French, Waterloo). UW HSS Endowment. 2021. $6928.21.

PI. “ ‘…the Fountain of Youth’ Aesthetics of Accessibility Design Workshop.” With the Fountain Collective. Region of Waterloo Arts Fund. 2020. $7500.

Collaborator. “La Ville Extraordinaire: Mobilizing the urban knowledge of older Montrealers through oral history and place-based creation.” PI Cynthia Hammond (Concordia). SSHRC Partnership Development. 2019. $200,000.

PI. “Guarded Girls: Post-performance talk with Senator Kim Pate.” University of Waterloo He For She Sponsorship. May 2019. $1265.

PI. “Design for Peace, Tumaco 2019-20.” Global Affairs Canada Emerging Leadership in the Americas Program Faculty Mobility Grant 2019. $7,000.

PI. “Design for Peace (Tumaco) Exhibition and Workshop.” Co-applicants Fabio Fajardo Tolosa (National University of Colombia) and Milena Radzikowska (Mount Royal University). SSHRC Connection 2019. $45,866.

PI. “Theatre for Relationality: Increasing Green Light Arts’ Capacity to Engage Waterloo Region Audiences in Action towards Social Justice.” Co-applicant Matt White; with Green Light Arts theatre company. SSHRC Partnership Engage 2019. $24,992.

PI. “Launching the qCollaborative in English and French Canada (Ottawa and Montreal).” Games Institute Research Travel 2019. $5500.

PI. “International Presence for the Digital Oral Histories for Reconciliation (DOHR) Project (Prague and Utrecht).” Games Institute Research Travel 2019. $8900.

PI. Radzikowska and Ruecker [two lectures, one workshop]. Games Institute Visiting Scholars Series 2019. $4000.

Co-applicant and Lead, Virtual Reality Development Cluster. “Digital Oral Histories for Reconciliation (DOHR): The Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children History Education Initiative.” PI Kristina Llewellyn (Social Development Studies, Waterloo). SSHRC Partnership Development. 2016-19. $199,027.

University of Waterloo Faculty of Arts Outstanding Performance Award, 2015.
Ontario Early Researcher Award, 2014-19.

Board of Directors, Green Light Arts Theatre, 2017-2021.

Schreibman, Susan Costas Papadopoulos, and Marianne Huang. Case Study: Jennifer Roberts-Smith, Humanities for Social Justice. In Unit 1 Overview of the course: “Introduction to Design Thinking and Maker Culture.” Dariah Teach: Open Educational Resources for the Digital Arts and Humanities. teach.dariah.eu/mod/lesson/view.php?id=1334&pageid=1399.

Panelist. “The Importance of 5G in a Post COVID-19 World.” Rogers Communications 5G Research Summit. June 23, 2020.

Roberts-Smith, Jennifer. “Relational Scenography – Designing Virtual Reality for Restorative Justice.” X-Camera: An Experimental Learning Circle. Interarts Matrix. Kitchener, Ontario. 6 March, 2020.

MacDonald, Shana, Milena Radzikowska, Jennifer Roberts-Smith, Stan Ruecker, and Brianna Wiens. qCollaborative Colouring Feminist Activists. 2019. Colouring book.

Gibson, Lindsay, Jennifer Llewellyn, Kristina Llewellyn, Carla Peck, Jennifer Roberts-Smith, Tony Smith, and the DOHR Project Research Team. DOHR Soft Launch for VOICES, Community, and Government. Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. April 11-12, 2019.


  • Canadian Association for Theatre Research
  • American Society for Theatre Research
  • Association for Theatre in Higher Education
  • Canadian Society for Digital Humanities/Société canadienne des humanités numériques
  • Alliance of Digital Humanities Associations
  • Shakespeare Association of America