Theatre, Dance & Performance Studies Theses and Dissertations

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    (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.”
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    (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.
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    (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.
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    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?”
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    (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.