Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Every body has a story: Exploring the experience of obesity for women through Theatre for Change
by Fisher, Teresa A., Ph.D., New York University, 2012, 295; 3493851
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study was to examine the experience of obesity for adult women who self-identify as currently or formerly obese, fat, or overweight, using theatre exercises to create a performance piece which would showcase the fat body narratives uncovered through the theatre-based explorations.

This study explored the ways in which the participants understood and responded to their bodies, by examining the relationship between internal and external oppression. Through the combined use of theatre Augusto Boal's theoretical notions of Theatre of the Oppressed and Rainbow of Desire, this study investigated the experience of being overweight. The two primary strategies used in this study were Image Theatre and Newspaper Theatre. The use of personal narratives and current events were employed within the utilized strategies.

This study shows how theatre is useful in the field of obesity to understand both the physical and emotional aspects of being overweight. Theatre involves using the physical body to enact concepts which are both concrete (i.e., being hot or cold) and abstract (i.e., representing beauty through metaphorical imagery). By engaging the body first, theatre helps people unlock previously untapped parts of their thinking. Additionally, theatre can be used to collectively explore and develop their thinking about oppressive situations, both external and internal. It is for this dual purpose of accessing thoughts and addressing oppression that the selected theatre strategies were utilized in this study to explore the messages participants receive about being overweight or obese.

This study does not intend to solve the problem of obesity, but open doors to better understand and respond to it successfully. Given that the problem of obesity resides in both the mind and the body, theatre is uniquely positioned to address to explore both areas simultaneously. With the knowledge gained in this study, more effective ways of addressing obesity in the U.S. can be developed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Smithner, Nancy
Commitee: Guttmacher, Sally, Halkitis, Perry
School: New York University
Department: Music and Performing Arts Professions
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 73/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Womens studies, Theater, Health education
Keywords: Applied theatre, Feminist, Feminist theory, Obesity, Rainbow of Desire, Theatre for Change, Theatre of the Oppressed
Publication Number: 3493851
ISBN: 9781267148650
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