Visa Denied: U.S. Playwriting and the anti-Political Habitus post-"Angels in America"
Pressley, Daniel Nelson
Bryer, Jackson R
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"Visa Denied: U.S. Playwriting and the Anti-Political Habitus post-Angels in America," a dissertation by Daniel Nelson Pressley, argues that an anti-political prejudice operates across the points of the U.S. theater-making spectrum, with particularly inhibiting results for playwrights even in the two decades following Tony Kushner's influential political epic. Using a reception framework suggested by Susan Bennett and others, along with the memory and "ghosting" ideas of Marvin Carlson and Diana Taylor, the dissertation suggests unrecognized anti-political patterns in criticism and production, explores broken links with the traditions of the 1930s and the lost lessons of workers' theater movements from the 1920s and 1930s, and contrasts contemporary American and British practice and reception by examining dramatic technique in plays by David Hare, Sam Shepard, David Mamet, Arthur Miller and Wendy Wasserstein. The project acknowledges the absorption of political energy on the stage by the rising documentary forms since the emergence of solo performer Anna Deavere Smith, concluding that the acceptance and dominance of fact-based methods, while expanding the drama's vocabulary, contributes to an even greater outsider position for the playwright as political thinker.