Theatre, Dance & Performance Studies Theses and Dissertations

Permanent URI for this collection


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 271
  • Item
    (2023) Williams, Mark; Mezzocchi, Jared M; Theatre; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Creative System Integration is the process of assembling systems of technology for design that supports the creative needs of a performance. In these writings, I document and reflect on the steps my collaborators and I took in two productions, “DanceXDance” and “The Late Wedding”. I examine the processes and performance objectives of these two shows with attention to how technology and the medium of media was utilized, and the advantages or limitations it presented. I explore how new technology can be leveraged to create new collaborative workspaces, new methodologies, subvert expectations about media, and improve creative agency, all while meeting the unique narrative and mediaturgical needs of each production.
  • Item
    The White Arm in the Smoke: The Meaning of Theatrical Violence on the Victorian Stage
    (2023) Kaleba, Casey Dean; Hildy, Franklin J; Theatre; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This PhD dissertation examines Victorian theatrical combat on the London stage to place it in both historical and cultural context. By first establishing a possible dance-based origin for stage combat, the paper explores the overlapping modes of practice in different forms of popular and elite entertainments in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as they influenced the development of historically inspired movement. Using archival documents, literary analysis of stage fights, physical culture and gender studies, the study aims to contribute original research to the field of stage combat history and propose new theoretic lenses with which to examine historical practice. The paper discusses the relationship between dueling as cultural habit and representations in dramatic literature, as well as the influence of changing patterns in physical culture. Finally, this dissertation examines the role of spectacle theatre and acting theory in the development of new Modernist ideas of representing sword fights on stage.
  • Item
    (2023) Villanueva, Carlo Antonio Ortega; Keefe, Maura; Dance; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Last Dance, Lost Dance is a 30-minute interdisciplinary performance piece that explores the concept of indeterminacy in performance. Indeterminacy—the phenomenon of a performer making decisions during performance—is a reifying analytical perspective from which dance improvisation can be seen, applied, and understood. Instinctively directed and choreographed by Carlo Antonio Ortega Villanueva, Last Dance, Lost Dance resists the fixity of choreographic form in pursuit of relational, responsive collaborations in performance strategy and (interdisciplinarily) with theater design. To do so, Last Dance, Lost Dance reschedules choreography to include the moment of performance, through the use of improvisational strategies; and reconfigures choreography to include the design and movement of mise en scène. As a result, Last Dance, Lost Dance commands the full apparatus of the theater despite its imposed rubrics for form, beauty, and aesthetic; and its choreography emerges in real time, authored live by its performers. These experimental modes of choreography ask and dance the question: “What is the relationship between form and possibility?” This document, “Last Dance, Lost Dance: Strategizing Indeterminacy Toward Live and Emergent Choreographies,” supports and contextualizes Last Dance, Lost Dance with discussions of dance and the archive, Asian American postmodern performance, and photographic and narrative documentation of the creative research, development, and critical reflections of Last Dance, Lost Dance; it is accompanied by an archival video of the performance.
  • Item
    The Songs of Her Possibilities: Black Women-Authored Musicals from the Nineteenth Century to the Present
    (2023) Ealey, Jordan Alexandria; Chatard Carpenter, Faedra; Theatre; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    The Songs of Her Possibilities: Black Women Authored Musicals from the Nineteenth Century to the Present, examines Pauline Hopkins, Zora Neale Hurston, Vinnette Carroll, Micki Grant, and Kirsten Childs as black women creators of music theatre and their use of the form for social, political, and creative interventions. In so doing, I argue that these creators employ the form of the musical as a site for black feminist intellectual production through dramaturgical strategies in playwriting, composition, and direction. My project is animated by these major questions: How do Hopkins, Hurston, Grant, Carroll, and Childs employ the form of the musical to significant sociopolitical ends? How do their respective musicals creatively shape how musical theatre is researched, taught, and circulated? And finally, how do the black women creators at the center of this study reject, remake, and revise musical forms to challenge, critique, and change the overdetermined boundaries of the artistry and scholarship of musical theatre?In musical theatre, there is often an adherence to a strict dramaturgy of integration; that is, the dialogue, music, choreography, and other elements of a given musical must be perfectly uniformed. Black women musical theatre creators, however, are not bound to this dramaturgy and challenge it. I contend that this is accomplished through what I call strategic dissonance—a black feminist dramaturgical strategy that makes use of disintegrated and disjointed elements as an artistic method. This method is drawn from their material realities as black women (and the multidirectional nature of navigating black womanhood) to reflect the realities of black life and propose new ways of living. The project uses a significant amount of research from different archival sites such as the Library of Congress, Fisk University, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Currently, no manuscript exists that explores and examines this under-theorized and under-documented history; thus, my project intervenes in the invisibilization of these musicals from the historical narrative of American musical theatre. Therefore, The Songs of Her Possibilities simultaneously argues for the significance of black women’s musical theatre for black feminist worldmaking capabilities.
  • Item
    (2022) Taylor, Zavier Augustus Lee; Mezzocchi, Jared M; Theatre; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Title of Thesis:Thesis Directed By: ABSTRACT STICK FLY: A DISSECTION OF PROCESS AND EXPLORATION OF ADVOCACY Zavier Augustus Lee Taylor, Master of Fine Arts, 2022 Professor Jared Mezzocchi, Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies The following thesis is a series of observations and explorations documenting my experiences as Media and Projections Designer of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at The University of Maryland College Park’s production of Stick Fly by Lydia R. Diamond. The production opened on April 15th, 2022 as a live performance in the Kogod Theatre. Stick Fly was performed in a black box theater space with direction by Kenyatta Rogers, Scenic Design by Abigail Bueti, Associate Scenic Design by Mollie Singer, co-sound design by Neil McFadden and Gordon Nimmo-Smith, lighting design by Christian Henrriquez, and costume design by Ashlynne Ludwig.
  • Item
    “By The Way, Meet Vera Stark”: An Exploration of Process, Film, and Collaboration
    (2023) Collins, Deja; Mezzocchi, Jared; Theatre; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    The following thesis documents my design process and the discoveries I made as the projection designer for the production of By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, directed by Scott Reese and Alvin Mayes, and the cinematographer for its short film Belle of New Orleans. The production opened on October 7th, 2022, in the Kay Theatre at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland.
  • Item
    (2023) Farnell, Lauren; Marshall, Caitlin; Theatre; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Global reggaetón superstar Bad Bunny has performed in traditionally “female” clothes, worn nail polish, and kissed men on the international stage, but has never named his identity explicitly. Many have taken to the internet to call him, among many other celebrities a “queer baiter .” With US representational politics and queer people in the spotlight – this thesis wonders how homonormativity and neo-imperial respectability politics fueled these queer-baiting discourses. This thesis aims to tackle the contemporary debates surrounding racialized minoritarian subjects in reggaetón who are constantly caught in discourses of “too queer” or “not queer enough.” These queers frequently under colonial or neo-imperial rule, negotiate the boundaries of American homonormativity and obsession with “outness.” This thesis takes up the idea of “queerbaiting” and questions, “what happens when people outside the homo-“norms” perform their queerness in a way that is not necessarily legible to other global queers?” Utilizing methods from performance, queer, and Latine and Caribbean studies, I argue that we need new understandings of what it means to be queer. Using case studies from the reggaetón genre of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, I argue that performances by Bad Bunny, Tokischa, and Ivy Queen negotiate, performances of queerness that exceed those of US imperial homonormativity. Intervention statement: this redefines how we come to understand our own queerness and futures and how we understand the most popular global music genre.
  • Item
    (2023) Reynolds, Heather; Chandrashaker, Amith; Theatre; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This thesis provides documentation and reflection on the lighting design for the University of Maryland - College Park School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies production of By the Way, Meet Vera Stark by Lynn Nottage. This thesis contains a written explanation of the design process and approach; visual research used to help communicate design intent to the production team; drafting plates used to convey the placement and organization of the lighting equipment; magic sheets, discussion of the organizational and communication tools for the lighting design team; a discussion of the effects of COVID-19 on the production and design process; and documentation of the creation of the “Belle of New Orleans” film required by the script. Included production photographs document the completed design. This production held two preview performances on October 7th and 9th and opened on October 13th, 2022.
  • Item
    (2023) Ward, Cyrah Louise; Davis, Crystal U; Dance; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    BLACK IS HOLY: A WORD is a 30-minute multimodal performative meditation birthed at the crossroads of spirituality and sensuality. Migrating the audience through jazz worlds saturated with ancestral choreographies, storytelling, and spoken words, BLACK IS HOLY: A WORD acts as a divine medium converging the past and the present. Carefully informed by embodied practices within the Hoodoo spiritual system, BLACK IS HOLY: A WORD submerges viewers into a Black cultural landscape where the sacred and secular collide. BLACK IS HOLY: A WORD directed by Cyrah L. Ward premiered as an installation on Monday, November 14, 2022, and an embodied performance on Thursday, November 17, 2022. The installation designed by Cyrah L. Ward in collaboration with scenic designer Sarah Beth Hall features a series of found sacred objects, original digital art collages, and poetry. The embodied performance of BLACK IS HOLY: A WORD features choreography by Cyrah L. Ward in collaboration with Ronya-Lee Anderson, scenic design by Sarah Beth Hall, audio engineering by Cyrah L. Ward, sound design by Veronica J. Lancaster, lighting design by Luis Garcia, costume design by Ashlynne Ludwig, projection design by Deja Collins, and stage managing by Safiya Muthaliff. This document serves as a written performance that creatively travels readers through the energetic, spiritual, compositional, and choreographic development of BLACK IS HOLY: A WORD.
  • Item
    Reimagining the Costumes for Shakespeare's As You Like It
    (2023) Parks, Stephanie D; Huang, Helen Q.; Theatre; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This Document is a description of the process of conceiving of and implementing the costume design for William Shakespeare’s As You Like It. A comedy, the story follows Rosalind and Orlando on their journey from the restrictive court to the utopic Forest of Arden. Along the way, they find many interesting characters such as Jaques and Touchstone, eventually discovering one another and falling in love. The production design featured a mix of periods with a modern flavor. This thesis contains the entirety of the design process from initial concept to final product, including research, renderings, fitting photos, paperwork, and production photos. The show was produced by The University of Maryland School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies from November 11th - 18th, 2022. The production was directed by Eleanor Holdridge, Scenic Design by Gavin Mosier, Lighting Design by Christian Henrriquez, Projection Design by Luis Garcia, and Costume Design by Stephanie Parks.
  • Item
    (2023) Barr, Lindsey R.; Marshall, Caitlin; Theatre; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Musical theatre, as the United States’ only unique theatrical genre to find global influence, is a powerful form of storytelling that began as staged reifications of American ideals. The American musical has been a prime location to explore what it means to be American and how American society reckons with its self-proclaimed status as a “melting pot” where people from diverse cultures and ethnicities come together to form the rich fabric of the nation. Though much scholarship focuses on the American musical as a site to reify American culture and ideals, this dissertation critiques exclusionary American ideologies that have harmed disabled people, mad people, women, and people of color for as long as it has existed. In this project, I argue that passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, which established legal protections for people with disabilities, made physical and mental disability visible and relevant to the narrative action and staging of musical theatre in new ways. Combining my professional skills as a dramaturg with theoretical frameworks from performance studies, disability studies, and women of color feminisms, I examine Violet (1997), Jane Eyre the Musical (2000), and Next to Normal (2009) as my prime case studies. Through analyzing these case studies, this dissertation reveals an obscured history of how racialized and gendered disability ideologies inflect the narrative and staging of American musical theatre. I term this aesthetic and practical reliance on mad characters mad dramaturgy.
  • Item
    The Performance of Remastery in Theatre and Media
    (2023) Miller, Alexander Williams; Harding, James M; Theatre; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Within the field of mediatized performance, there are many terms that rely upon the “re-” prefix. Terms like remediation and remix have been utilized for the last two decades in discussions of how digital media has affected our perceptions of live performance. This dissertation analyzes the potential of a third “re-:” remastering. Remastering refers to the act of “touching up” older mediums, mostly vinyl discs and reels of film, digitizing the media they contain while improving the overall quality of sounds and/or images. With this sort of digital augmentation affecting the audience reception of media, the question emerges: how can we think of the remastering process as performative?This project centers on the notion that performance studies provide an excellent template to begin to answer the questions that arise surrounding remastering. It explores technical acts of remastering through the lens of performance and performativity to develop a working theory of remastery. This theory draws upon and expands previous conversations surrounding both digital media and performance. Starting with a discussion of the technical requirements that go into remastering in general, I develop a working understanding and theory of remastery. This theory centers remastery as a performative action that can shed light on the power dynamics that underpin our cultural interest in obsolescence, nostalgia, and technology. In discussing this theory of remastery, four case studies of remastered media are analyzed, each providing a different facet of my theory. The first is The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records: a remastered collection of work from a defunct inter-war recording company that produced a wide variety of African American Artists and performers. The second is the various remastered versions of Star Wars and their effect on the prospects of authenticity and alteration within remastering. The third is Warcraft III: Reforged, a remastered videogame from 2020 that was met with critical and commercial failure. The fourth is Elements of Oz by The Builders Association, a live production of multimedia theatre that demonstrates the usefulness of remastery as a theoretical concept to bridge the gap between performance and technology.
  • Item
    After Bend It Like Beckham: Soccer in 21st-Century Theatre and Performance
    (2023) Strange, Jared; Harding, James; Theatre; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    After Bend It Like Beckham: Soccer in 21st-Century Theatre and Performance examines how the performativity of the world’s most popular sport is “played” by various actors for the purposes of social, cultural, and political transformation. In addition to being a type of performance, sports can be considered performative in that they can enact a consequential transformation, such that a win on the field becomes a win in life. Assumptions surrounding the transformative capacities of soccer, unabashedly described by fans and stakeholders as “The Beautiful Game,” are especially potent, particularly when invested with material powers that forms the sports-industrial complex. By examining case studies ranging from the Pulitzer Prize-nominated play The Wolves to exhibition matches staged by authoritarian leaders, this dissertation demonstrates how soccer’s performativity can be reconfigured advantageously in conditions extracted from actual gameplay. Dramas that spotlight sportswomen using soccer to forge greater individual and collective selves show how athletes can play against the barriers that inhibit their access to the sport, and how nuanced representations of the plight of sportswomen can play against uncritical deployments of representation that only validate success. National and sporting governments, on the other hand, can leverage the sport to reify nationalistic myths and induce participants to reconfigure social memory through acts of play that elide historical accuracy and obscure the material powers invested in the game. This dissertation arrives at an ideal time to engage debates over the “true” nature of performativity, accounting for the efficacy of gestures amidst accusations of “performative activism” and redirecting attention to the conditions that make transformation possible but are more likely to sanction superficial changes that do not threaten the status quo. Soccer’s performative capacity can thus be understood as both a source of empowerment for players inhibited by racial, gendered, and nationalistic exclusion and a concept that is easily manipulated by powerbrokers whose embeddedness within the sports-industrial complex is protected by the very systems that perpetuate extraction and exclusion.
  • Item
    (2022) Thomas, LaRonika; Harding, James; Theatre; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation develops a theory of “civic dramaturgy.” Civic dramaturgy is a process of performing identity through changes to and impacts on the built environment, as well as a method of analyzing and contextualizing those performances to better understand the multiple modes of identity expression that make up a specific place, in the case of this dissertation, that place is the city of Chicago. Civic dramaturgy joins theories of “performance and the city” together with theatre history and urban studies to examine cultural space, cultural policy, performances of urban planning, and the ways in which artistic labor is used by individuals, corporations, and governments in non-representational performances of civic and urban identity in the United States. This study first establishes a working definition of civic dramaturgy, tracing the development of the ideas of the “civic” and “dramaturgy” through western theatre history, as well as examining other theories significant to urban planning, critical space theory, spatial representations of gender and race, and performance of cities. Dramaturgy involved four main areas of practice: analysis of plot structure, relationship between artist and audience, locality and spatial awareness, and contextualization. Each of chapters one through four examine an aspect of Chicago through one of these practices to build toward this definition of civic dramaturgy. I identified the city of Chicago as the site of study for this work because of its history of planning the built environment and its robust theatre history, including the way in which its theatre has been intertwined with social and spatial movements through the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. In addition to an examination of the development of the city and its theatre, civic dramaturgy requires an analysis of the ways in which artistic labor co-creates civic identity, the social space of the city, and the built environment. In particular, the work of Theaster Gates, an artist and planner working on the south side of Chicago, provides a poignant example of the ways cultural planning, performance, and labor work to craft a civic identity; and the structure of these interwoven performances are examples of civic dramaturgy. Finally, the performance of the digital space of the city is also an important component of civic dramaturgy and the fourth chapter breaks down the ways in which actor and audience relationships manifest through sensory-inscribed bodies in performance and planning of the built environment. This study builds upon existing scholarship that posits dramaturgy as a way to understand performance, architecture, policy-making, and politics, extending the use of the structural and spatial concepts of dramaturgy beyond the rehearsal room, the stage, and the site-specific performance, in order to craft a more comprehensive means by which to understand performance and the city, and providing an example of a kind of dramaturgically-based analysis that may also be used when looking at all kinds of urban spaces and phenomena, and which may be theorized as “civic dramaturgy.”
  • Item
    (2022) Kinch, Devin Paul; Mezzocchi, Jared; Theatre; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This thesis explores Devin Kinch’s concept, design process and execution of the projection design for Fefu and Her Friends presented by the School of Theatre Dance and Performance Studies at the University of Maryland - College Park. The production opened March 4, 2022 in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center’s Kay Theatre. Fefu and her friends was written by Maria Irene Fornes. This production was directed by Kelsey Mesa, scenic design by Brandon Roak, costume design by Becca Janney, lighting design by Eric Pitney and sound design by Kaydin Hamby.
  • Item
    (2022) Preston, Sean; Mezzocchi, Jared; Theatre; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    The following thesis navigates the artistic ideas and concepts, design process,and execution of Sean Preston’s projection design for the UMD School for Theatre Dance and Performance Studies-College Park’s production of Hookman. The production opened November 13th, 2021 in the Kogod Theatre at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Hookman was directed by Nathaniel P. Claridad, with scenic design by Mollie Singer, costume design by Stephanie Parks, lighting design by Heather Reynolds, and sound design by Tosin Olufolabi.
  • Item
    Experiencing Place: Dramaturgies of Site-Specific Performance
    (2022) Holley, Kelley Terese; Harding, James M.; Theatre; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This study examines the creative strategies that are employed in performance to construct, alter, and dramatize the audience’s experience of place. As such my dissertation asks, if site-specific performance, by definition, hinges on a legible and meaningful relationship between site and performance, how does the performance key the audience into this essential quality? Likewise, if “place” is a never-ending project, how is a place changed in the aftermath of a site-specific performance? Using dramaturgy as a methodology, along with audience and practitioner interviews, I direct my study to the reception of site-specific performance across mediums, including theatre, visual art, audio dramas, and dance. I critically analyze the roles that race, gender, and class play in shaping the material and experiential aspects of a place through site-specific performance. Using the theoretical lenses of cultural geography and audience studies, I interrogate the interplay between time and place in audio performances on the New York City subway, weigh the potential for an “authentic” experience of place through its supposedly “authentic” cuisine, and attend to the ethics of spectatorship beyond the theatrical frame. These case studies serve to stress-test the notion of “site,” a valuable but under-theorized concept. As I tease out the theoretical distance between “site” and “place,” I not only ask “how does an audience experience place in site-specific performance,” but also “what is a ‘site,’ anyway?”
  • Item
    (2022) Monday, John Francis; Harding, James; Theatre; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This thesis explores the parallels between philosopher Herbert Marcuse’s efforts in Eros and Civilization (1955) to wed the ideas of Marx and Freud on the one hand, and the debate between Marquis de Sade and Jean-Paul Marat that playwright Peter Weiss stages, on the other, in his play The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade (1963). Marcuse’s innovations bled into the world of Weiss who, despite his own assertions to the contrary, I will argue, wrote a play that owes a great debt to the debates of his time as well as to critical theory. What is at stake in the fictional dialogues set forth by Marcuse and Weiss, as I will contend in this thesis, are basic questions about the role of fictional debate in revolutionary praxis. What work is done by polarizing or marrying two schools of thought? What is the role of the author synthesizing or bifurcating a dialectic in an era of social upheaval? These questions frame my individual consideration of Marcuse’s Eros and Civilization and equally my consideration of Weiss’s Marat / Sade. But the larger goal of setting the work of Marcuse in dialogue with that of Weiss is to consider the role of art in theoretical thinking and vice versa. Utilizing two prominent figureheads of the Left cultural moment of the 60s, this thesis argues that confrontation itself is a productive endeavor and that the two contexts dialectically bleed into one another. The worth of this project is thus to capture a specific scene of theoretical and artistic thought in the late 1950s and early 1960s, which are interconnected.
  • Item
    Antici- An Exploration of Familiarity and Progress Through the Lens of Rocky Horror: A Theoretical Design
    (2022) Verrett, Taylor Kennedy; Mezzocchi, Jared; Theatre; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This thesis work focuses on a hypothetical design for a production of the Rocky Horror Show. The subject matter of the design is inspired by classical works of art history and the connotations that come with the iconography of these images. The design utilizes assets that are familiar to the audiences to create a new visual that is approved by the cult following of Rocky Horror.
  • Item
    The Comedy Propaganda Machine: The Soldier Sketch Writing Contest of World War II
    (2022) Demmy, Tara Noelle; Hildy, Franklin J; Theatre; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    In 1941, the U.S. military faced the challenge of preparing to fight a war on two fronts (thousands of miles away against formidable foes) and finding comedy scripts to entertain soldiers. Wait, what? It is true, “comedy” was on the country’s long and complicated to-do list for World War II, in addition to recruiting millions of people and producing ships, aircraft, artillery, tanks, food, and ammunition. The army’s soldier show program included contests, quizzes, one-act plays, musicals, vaudeville acts, minstrel shows, and radio comedy. Military manuals detailed how to act, direct, write, and build props and costumes. The goal was to provide soldiers with the skills to self-entertain, no matter the conditions. Soldier entertainment during World War II was expansive, including Entertainment Units and USO shows, but this study focuses on informal shows, performed for and by troops in combat zones overseas. Two organizations led this effort: the Special Service, a branch of the U.S. Army, which facilitated all leisure and recreation programs for GIs, including dances, camp newspapers, music, educational programs, and sports; and the Writers’ War Board, a propaganda agency run by celebrity writers. Funded administratively by the U.S. Government’s Office of War Information (OWI), the Writers’ War Board sought to rectify the mistakes of state-run propaganda campaigns of World War I, aiming to integrate pro-war sentiment into American’s daily entertainment streams. The Special Service made the argument to commanding officers that participation in comedy would make men into better soldiers. They believed that comedy would promote and maintain what they termed “combat morale,” or the will to kill / be killed on behalf of the organization and its objectives. Using comedy to convince men to risk their lives and take the lives of others, does indeed feel like an act of propaganda. Using research from five archival collections, this dissertation asks: How did sketch comedy promote and maintain combat morale during World War II? Or in other words, how did sketch comedy function as propaganda, convincing men to risk everything? Soldier shows improved the combat efficiency of the soldier through the development of individuality, development of leadership, development of esprit de corps, and provided a means of relaxation from mental stress. The 1944 sketch writing contest for the armed services, the pinnacle collaboration between the Writers’ War Board and the Special Service, serves as the through line of this dissertation. This contest, culminating in the published booklet titled GI Prize Winning Blackouts (1944), features short funny scenes about army life. Present-day military veterans participated in workshops where they read the World War II sketches aloud and discussed them in relation to their own service. Each chapter includes embedded audio files and direct quotes, centering their perspectives as credible experts. War, like comedy, often holds multiple, even contradictory meanings. Tensions are explored within each chapter, adding complexity to my understanding of the relationship between comedy, morale, propaganda. Comedy, despite its “entertaining” nature, needs to be critically engaged, especially during periods of crisis, when audiences are most vulnerable. As during a pandemic, or war, comedy audiences (of social media, performance, and everyday joking) must be aware of their desperate need for connection and therefore their vulnerability to consciously or unconsciously be convinced to join a group and act on behalf of it. The Special Service and Writers’ War Board worked together to turn a group of civilians into effective combat soldiers, willing to risk their lives in battle. This case study speaks to the power of comedy as propaganda at a time when the stakes were incredibly high.