Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Performing Politics: Visibility, Identity, and Meaning-Making in Docudrama
by Speer, Annika Corwin, Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2013, 215; 3596267
Abstract (Summary)

My dissertation, Performing Politics: Visibility, Identity, and Meaning-Making in Docudrama, challenges scholars' privileging of documentary theatre, which relies solely on primary source material such as trial transcripts, over docudrama, which allows a blending of primary sources with fiction. I focus on contemporary docudrama theatre practitioners in the United States, and specifically on productions that address issues of gender and sexuality. My work argues for the feminist potential of docudrama to disrupt hierarchies of knowledge and destabilize the primacy of the primary source. I demonstrate in Chapter One that in a docudrama like Paula Kamen's Jane: Abortion and the Underground, "reality" operates alongside the imaginative potential of fiction, thus providing practitioners and audiences a unique realm in which to tackle difficult and politically charged issues. My second chapter argues that the interdisciplinarity of documentary theatre can be a feminist ethnographic model for scholar-artists to employ ethical research methods for artistic engagement. Through a critical examination of E. Patrick Johnson's Sweet Tea, I argue that reflexivity and the post-show talkback are promising tools for foregrounding the practitioner's positionality and raising public consciousness. Finally, I challenge implications that documentary theatre is inherently pedagogical. Through an analysis of Dustin Lance Black's 8, I question the ways in which parroting primary source material reifies dominant ideologies, further entrenching cultural hierarchies. I conclude by considering other promising feminist attributes of docudrama, specifically the symbiotic potential of dialoging documentary scholarship with scholarship on queer temporalities.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: McMahon, Christina S.
Commitee: King, William Davies, Oaks, Laury
School: University of California, Santa Barbara
Department: Theater Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 75/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Womens studies, Theater, GLBT Studies
Keywords: Activism, Documentary theater, Gender, Sexuality, Theater performances
Publication Number: 3596267
ISBN: 9781303427145
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