Women in American Theatre: Doing Gender, Race, Sexuality Onstage and Off (2009)

This course addresses the history and theory, practices and polemics of women working in American theatre and performance. Materials will concentrate on contemporary examples, but will also consider theatre’s role in the struggle for women’s visibility advanced by American feminism of the 1960s and ‘70s. We’ll study women playwrights, solo performers, and collective theatre companies, asking how organizational structures, as well as the written form and content of their work, influence how women are seen and received in the theatre industry. We’ll delve into feminist, queer, critical race, and performance theory to consider what kinds of methodologies best pose questions useful to our investigation. We’ll host distinguished guests who are currently practicing in the field, and we’ll discuss a vital range of work by women, from solo performers such as Deb Margolin, Anna Deveare Smith, and Marga Gomez to playwrights such as Sarah Ruhl and Theresa Rebeck to directors such as Tina Landau, Anne Bogart, and Lisa Peterson. Our conversations will be polemical and forward-thinking: What is the future of women’s work in this field? What needs to change—in terms of social attitudes, cultural climates, theatre’s modes of production, and audiences’ expectations of what “women” or “feminist” means—for women to achieve equality in theatre and performance? What is particular about theatre work by women? Is it most distinguished by identity issues such as gender, race, and sexuality or perhaps by form, content, context, style, or other aesthetic questions?

[Download the full course syllabus as a PDF document].

 

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