Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Sideshow: An alluring dichotomy of illusion and humanity
by Dunbar, Stephanie, M.F.A., California State University, Long Beach, 2013, 14; 1523177
Abstract (Summary)

By utilizing historical primary research images and first-hand accounts of experiences from sideshow members and attractions during the Great Depression era, I created a hidden world of alluring diversions and debauchery, while at the same time, revealed the humanity of the downcast "freaks" of the sideshow. Expressing this dichotomy of virtue and sin–saint and sinner was vital to understanding the rise and fall of Sideshow's leading ladies, conjoined sisters Daisy and Violet Hilton, whose fleeting fame reached its peak during the 1930s. In creating a costume design for the "freaks" that was essentially a piecemeal of period undergarments mixed with stereotypical adornments, I was able to show successfully the extreme deprivation that these characters endured. Ultimately, the costumes in Sideshow revealed the inherent juxtaposition of the world of the sideshow with that of high society, and it is through the costumes that we best come to understand the exploits and pitfalls of fame, as well as the sacrifices and hopelessness of poverty.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Smith, Nancy Jo
Commitee: Jacques, David Martin, Korogodsky, Danila
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Theatre Arts
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 52/01M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: American history, Design, Theater History
Keywords: 1930s, Costume design, Freaks, Great Depression, Musical, Sideshow
Publication Number: 1523177
ISBN: 9781303204425
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