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Contemporary Theatre and Its Diversity. The years since the late 1960s have been noteworthy for challenging dominant cultural standards and demanding the diversity of American society not only be acknowledged but also accepted and celebrated.

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The years since the late 1960s have been noteworthy for challenging dominant cultural standards and demanding the diversity of American society not only be acknowledged but also accepted and celebrated.

  • Efforts have been made to open mainstream theatres to plays about groups (African American, Asian American, Latino or Hispanic American, Native American, women, gays and lesbians, and others) previously marginalized or ignored and also to establish theatres to give these groups their own voice.
alternative theatre groups
Alternative Theatre Groups
  • In the 1960s, the Living Theatre, more than any other organization, epitomized rebellion against established authority in all of its aspects: values, behavior, language, dress, theatrical conventions.
alternative theatre groups1
Alternative Theatre Groups
  • Founded in New York in 1946 by Judith Malina and Julian Beck, it was originally devoted to poetic drama but during the 1950s was influenced increasingly by Brecht, Artaud, and anarchist theory.
  • The most extreme of the Living Theatre’s pieces was Paradise Now.
alternative theatre groups2
Alternative Theatre Groups
  • It began with actors circulating among the spectators, denouncing strictures on freedom (to smoke marijuana, travel without a passport, to go nude in public, and the like).
  • Thereafter during the performance, both spectators and actors roamed the auditorium and stage indiscriminately; many removed their clothing and some smoked marijuana – in other words, many of the strictures they denounced were defied.
alternative theatre groups3
Alternative Theatre Groups
  • Actors provoked some spectators into voicing opposition and then overrode them, often by shouting obscenities or even spitting them; at the end, the company sought to move the audience into the streets to continue the revolution begun in the theatre.
alternative theatre groups4
Alternative Theatre Groups
  • Its aggressive behavior, combined with its anarchistic politics, won the Living Theatre enormous notoriety and called attention to several challenges to long-accepted theatrical conventions, especially those that distinguished the fictional from the real: They treated space and time as real; actors played themselves rather than characters; actors wore their own clothing instead of costumes; the subject matter, political and social issues of the day, was pursued through improved confrontations rather than through predetermined text.
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Alternative Theatre Groups
  • Continued assaults on the conversations of polite behavior, and the inability of authorities to prevent violations, gained tolerance of behavior previously considered unacceptable.
  • Nudity and obscenity first came to Broadway in 1968 in the musical Hair, a good-natured plea for tolerance of alternative lifestyles.
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Alternative Theatre Groups
  • Although the most radical, the Living Theatre was not the only group seeking to change society through theatre.
  • Among these, two of the most effective were the Bread and Puppet Theatre (founded in 1961), which used both actors and giant puppets to enact parables that denounced war and the futility of materialism, and the San Francisco Mime Theatre (founded in 1966), which performed satirical pieces promoting civil rights, equality for women, and various other causes.
poor and environmental theatres
Poor and Environmental Theatres
  • All of these groups had limited resources. Most never controlled a theatre and had to perform wherever they could. They were what Jerzy Grotowski, director or the Polish Laboratory Theatre in Wroclaw, Poland, called “poor” theatres, Grotowski also made his own a poor theatre, nor out of necessity but out of conviction.
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Poor and Environmental Theatres
  • Grotowski hoped in his way to rediscover the essence of theatre. Eventually, he concluded that only two elements are essential: the actor and the audience.
  • Because of the actor’s central role in performance Grotowski devoted much of his attention to actors training.
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Poor and Environmental Theatres
  • He coupled intensive physical exercises with training designed to remove the performer’s psychological inhibitions; he also sought to develop the actor’s voice as an instrument capable of exceeding all normal demands.
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Poor and Environmental Theatres
  • Grotowski concentrated on creating spatial relationships among spectators and actors that would permit the audience to interact unselfconsciously.
  • For The Constant Prince, in which the title character patiently accepts mistreatment and suffering, the theatre was arranged so that all of the spectators looked down into a space that resembled a hospital teaching theatre where, as Grotowski put it, psychic surgery takes place.
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Poor and Environmental Theatres
  • Grotowski viewed the theatre as the modern equivalent of a tribal ceremony.
  • During the late 1960s, Grotowski became a major influence on theatre in Europe and America.
  • His influence was further disseminated through his book Towards a Poor Theatre (1968).
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Poor and Environmental Theatres
  • The Open Theatre (1963-1974), based in New York and headed by Joseph Chaikin, was also a “poor” theatre.
  • Above all, Chaikin was concerned with “transformation” – a constantly shifting reality in which the same performer assumes and discards roles or identities as the context changes.
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Poor and Environmental Theatres
  • The Open Theatre scripts, which sought to reveal fundamental moral and social patterns buried beneath troubling contemporary events or preoccupations, usually evolved in its workshops in close collaboration with its playwrights.
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Poor and Environmental Theatres
  • One of the Open Theatre’s most successful collaboration was with Jean-Claude van Itallie on The Serpent, in which the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and of Adam and Eve and other biblical events to suggest that God is a force that sets limits on our behavior and that the Serpent is a force that tempts us to breach those limits.
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Poor and Environmental Theatres
  • In 1968, Richard Schechner, having examined various contemporary practices, including those of the “poor” theatres, sought to describe the conventions of an approach to performance that he labeled “environmental theatre.”
  • During a performance, “focus is flexible and variable” – that is, a production need not be shaped by the assumption that all spectators must be able to see the same thing at the same time.
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Poor and Environmental Theatres
  • Instead, several scenes may be going on simultaneously in various parts of the space; spectators are free to choose which they will watch.
  • Environmental theatre blends categories long treated as distinct during performance: acting space and nonacting space; performer and spectator; text and performance; sequentiality and simultaneity.
multimedia happenings and performance art
Multimedia, Happenings, and Performance Art
  • Even as the “poor” theatres were restricting their means, other theatres were emphasizing the very elements that the poor theatres were seeking to eliminate.
  • Living as we do in the “electronic age”, it seems inevitable that the theatre would exploit electronic devices.
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Multimedia, Happenings, and Performance Art
  • Electronic media affected the theatre by creating the desire to make the representation of place in the theatre as transformable as it is in film and television.
  • The best-known multimedia experimentation was dome by the Czech designer Josef Svoboda.
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Multimedia, Happenings, and Performance Art
  • One of his projects, Polyekran (multiple screen), used filmed images entirely but sought to overcome the “visual paralysis” of a single screen by hanging screens of differing sizes at various distances from the audience, projecting different images on each, and changing the images at varying time intervals – thus creating a dynamic visual field and giving the audience a choice of images to watch.
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Multimedia, Happenings, and Performance Art
  • These developments are related to others then occurring in the visual arts.
  • Stimulated by dissatisfaction with restrictions imposed by the media in which they worked, painters sought to overcome the restrictions by such devices as gluing thee-dimensional objects onto paintings.
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Multimedia, Happenings, and Performance Art
  • Sculptors, to overcome the static nature of their medium, attached motors to sculptures to make them move or used light to vary the appearance.
  • Out of such experiments eventually came happenings, pioneered by the painter Allan Kaprow, who argued that not only the art objects on display but also the space and all of those who attend must be considered essential parts of the total artistic experience.
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Multimedia, Happenings, and Performance Art
  • Subsequent happenings varied, but most had common characteristics with implications for theatrical performance:
    • Happenings were multimedia events that broke down the barriers between the arts and mingled elements from several.
    • Happenings shifted emphasis away from creating a product to participating in a process.
    • Because there was no single focus, emphasis shifted from the artist’s intention to the participants’ awareness; each participant, as partial creator of the event, was free to derive from it whatever he or she could; no single “correct” interpretation of the artwork was sought.
    • Happenings did much to undermine professionalism and disciplined technique because anyone could participate, and there was no right or wrong way of doing anything.
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Multimedia, Happenings, and Performance Art
  • Many aspects of happenings and environmental theatre recall futurism and Dadaism.
  • Perhaps because they were anarchistic, happenings soon passed out of vogue. But the artistic impulse that had prompted them remained and resurfaced in the 1970s as performance art.
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Multimedia, Happenings, and Performance Art
  • Because some performance artists have used nudity, obscenity, unfamiliar conventions, and attacks on authority, it has been at the center of several attempts in recent years to censor art or to curb government support of the arts.
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Multimedia, Happenings, and Performance Art
  • The major creators of performance art originally came from the visual arts, dance, or music; they were attracted to performance art in part because it disregarded boundaries among the arts, thereby greatly expanding the means of expression.
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Multimedia, Happenings, and Performance Art
  • Performance art continues to be useful as an indication of the contemporary tendency to break down barriers between the arts and as an acknowledgment that “performance” can take many forms.
  • Perhaps the most influential force in performance art today is P.S. 122, an organization based in New York.
  • The ideas and practices of environmental theatre and performance art are related to postmodernism, a label that is imprecise but that suggests major changes in modernism.
  • Postmodernism melded categories by ignoring or deliberately violating differentiations and breaching the boundaries between the arts, as in performance art and multimedia; by breaking down the barriers between spectator and performance space, as in environmental theatre; by removing distinctions between audience and performers, as in happenings.
  • Another sign of postmodernism is the blurring of distinctions between dramatic forms, as in absurdist and much other contemporary drama.
  • Since the early 1970s, Peter Brook has been exploring the theatrical conventions of various in an attempt to bridge cultural and language barriers (his best known Mahabharata).
  • French director Ariane Mnouchkine, working with her company the Théâtre du Soleil, has drawn on Asian performance conventions in productions of several of Shakespeare’s plays and in a tetrology of Greek plays presented under the title Les Atrides.
  • Many aspects of postmodernism came together in the theatre pieces of Robert Wilson, among them A Letter to Queen Victoria, Einstein on the Beach, CIVEL warS, Time Rocker, and many more.
  • Most of the pieces were very long, from four to twelve hours, one lasted seven continuous days and nights.
  • According to Wilson, in his pieces there is nothing to understand, only things to experience, out of which each spectator constructs his or her own associations and meanings.
  • Many spectators have been infuriated or bored by the length and lack of clear-cut intention in Wilson’s pieces, but many critics have called him the most innovative and significant force in today’s theatre.
  • Even when Wilson stages classical texts, however, he avoids visual elements that merely illustrate what is in the text; rather, he seeks to suggest other dimensions through imagery not literally related to the text.
trends in directing
Trends in Directing
  • Postmodernism has influenced directing in several ways, perhaps most significantly by altering attitudes about the director’s relationship to the playwright and the script.
  • Most radical reinterpretations have involved plays by authors long dead. Bur since the 1980s, some directorial decisions have elicited strong objections from living authors.
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Trends in Directing
  • Some important questions raised by the productions at this time:
    • Can playwrights protect their work from distortions?
    • Are directors justified in reshaping a script to suit their own vision even if it distorts the playwright’s intentions?
    • What are the implications of demanding that directors adhere to playwrights’ notions about how their works should be staged?
    • Should playwrights’ preferences be honored even after audience tastes and staging conventions have changed?
    • What the role of the director?

None of this questions can be answered definitively, but they have created heated debate.

cultural diversity
Cultural Diversity
  • Broadway, because it is a sign of professional acceptance, continues to represent for many people the test for the theatre in America.
  • On Broadway, usually no more than twenty-five productions are running at the same time. About thirty-eight theatres are classified as Broadway houses. Their prices range from $25 to $75 for most plays and $25 to $100 for musicals.
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Cultural Diversity
  • During 2001, more than 360 not-for-profit theatres scattered throughout the United States presented 4,700 productions for a total of 81,800 performances. Total attendance was 22,5 million. Ticket prices were considerably lower than those of Broadway theatres.
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Cultural Diversity
  • Both Broadway and regional theatres tend now to see themselves as serving all segments of society through universal appeals independent of race, class, or gender.
  • Much of what has happened in theatre since the 1960s calls these assumptions into question.
  • The argument is that instead of trying to achieve homogenization, America would be better if it acknowledged, accepted, and valued differences.
african american theatre
African American Theatre
  • Theatres and plays concerned with African Americans have probably made the greatest impact.
  • African American playwrights and producing organizations have greatly increased since A Raisin in the Sun was first produced.
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African American Theatre
  • The most durable of the companies was the Negro Ensemble Company (NEC), founded in New York in 1968 by Douglas Turner Ward.
  • The upsurge in African American theatrical activity provided a corresponding increase in opportunities for actors, directors, and playwrights.
african american theatre2
African American Theatre
  • Among recent playwrights, one of the most successful has been George C. Wolfe, who first gained wide recognition in 1986 with The Colored Museum, a series of eleven exhibits about African American life that combine satire and anger.
african american theatre3
African American Theatre
  • Wolfe is now one of the most influential figures in the American theatre.
  • Suzan-Lori Parks is perhaps the most admired female African American playwright with The America Play, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World, In the Blood, and TopDog/Underdog.
african american theatre4
African American Theatre
  • Perhaps the most praised African American playwright is August Wilson, who has declared his intention of writing a play about black experience in each decade of the twentieth century.
  • His first success came in 1984 with Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
ma rainey s black bottom
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • The entire action of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom takes place in a recording studio in Chicago during one day in 1927.
  • Ma Reiney, “mother of the blues” and her band (all of them are black), are preparing to recording. Their two white managers have no respect for black musicians and their music, the only thing they want is money.
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Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • When the band arrives for recording, without Ma Rainey and her companions, tension begins to rise. The struggle of power begin to take shape.
  • When Ma Rainey finally arrives, dressed in furs and other finery, with her nephew, Sylvester and her girl friend, Dussie Mae, trouble begins.
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Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • The white men had decided Levee should play an introduction to Ma Rainey’s signature song, she had decided that Sylvester, who has a pronounced stutter, must introduce it with a spoken passage.
  • After several attempts, Sylvester does succeed, but they find that line to the recording booth was disconnected.
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Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • During the interruption that occurs, Dussie Mae wanders down to the rehearsal room and, despite the warning from others about Dussie Mae’s relationship with Ma, Levee fondles and kisses her.
  • Eventually the recording gets completed, after which Sturdyvant informs Levee that he is no longer interested in his music. Toledo accidentally steps in Levee’s shoe, the rage is redirected, and Levee stabs and kills Toledo.
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Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Wilson seems to suggest that this violence is an outgrowth of the treatment of blacks that has been discussed and dramatized in the play.
latino theatre
Latino Theatre
  • After African American, Latino is the most extensively developed alternative theatre in the United States.
  • Non until the 1960s did Latino theatre begin to make an impression on the wider American consciousness, first through the work of El Teatro Camperino, a bilingual Chicano company founded by Luis Valdez in 1965.
latino theatre1
Latino Theatre
  • A prolific playwright, Valdez has written works that include Los Vendidos, Corridos, I Don’t Have to Show You No Stinking Badges, and Bandito.
  • Valdez is probably best known to the general public for his film work, especially La Bamba.
latino theatre2
Latino Theatre
  • One of the most notable Hispanic American playwrights is Maria Irene Fornes, a Cuban American who began writing plays in 1965.
  • Among her plays Fefu and Her Friends, The Conduct of Life.
latino theatre3
Latino Theatre
  • Another notable Latina dramatist is Milcha Sanchez-Scott, daughter of a Colombian father and Indonesian mother.
  • Her plays are Latina(1980), Dog Lady, Cuban Swimmer, Evening Star, and The Old Matador.
  • Her best-known work is Roosters.
  • Roosters, which takes place in the present-day Southwest, uses cockfighting as its basic metaphor.
  • The father of the family is named Gallo (meaning “rooster”, a word also signifying “macho”, the male animal focused in his own needs)
  • The primary action of the play is concerned with the struggle for dominance between the forty-year-old Gallo and his twenty-years-old son, Hector.
  • Gallo prefers a life focused on cockfighting, winning at which in his eyes justifies any behavior, including cheating, con games, and even murder. Hector, on the other hand, dreams of going beyond the mountains to escape his family and the kind of life Gallo envisions for him.
  • The struggle between two men is brought to a head in their attempts to assert ownership of Zapata, a fighting cock that Gallo considers the culmination of his efforts to breed a champion but that has been given to Hector by his grandfather, who died while Gallo was in prison.
  • Set against this struggle between males are the three women of the family: Juana, Gallo’s worn-down, thirty-five-year-old wife; Chata, Gallo’s fleshy, forty-year-old sister, who “gives new meaning to the word blowsy”; and Angela, Gallo’s fifteen-year-old daughter who wears angel wings, plays with dolls dressed as saints.
  • Unlike Gallo and Hector, both of whom are described as being unusually handsome, the women are all homely.
  • The men are set off by the women, like colorful roosters surrounded by drab hens, and the women apparently are expected to feel grateful to be associated with these handsome creatures.
  • Roosters is divided into two acts and eight scenes. The elapsed time is unclear but apparently not more than a day or two.
  • The atmosphere, shifting easily between realism and fantasy, is characteristic of Latino “magic realism”.
  • Overall, Roosters is a powerful play that has much to say about machismo, women, love, and psychological need in a male-dominated Latino culture.
  • There are in the United States more than one hundred Hispanic American theatre groups – Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, or other categories.
asian american theatre
Asian American Theatre
  • Asian American have also made their mark in theatre.
  • Asians first came to America in large numbers when Chinese workers were imported in the mid-nineteenth century to help build railroads.
  • Those who remained usually clustered together within cities such as San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Seattle.
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Asian American Theatre
  • When Asian Americans were depicted by white dramatists, they were usually reduced to a few stereotypes: dutiful houseboy, inscrutable detective, wise Confucian patriarch, treacherous dragon lady, or submissive Asian doll-bride.
asian american theatre2
Asian American Theatre
  • Asian Americans began to rebel against these stereotypes around 1965, writing their own plays and founding their own theatres.
  • Some of the most important of the companies were the East-West Players, founded in Los Angels in 1965; the Asian Exclusion Act, founded in Seattle in 1973 and later renamed the Northwest Asian American Theatre Company; the Asian American Theatre Workshop, founded in San Francisco in 1973; and the Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, founded in New York in 1977.
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Asian American Theatre
  • Frank Chin was the first Asian American playwright to win wide recognition; The Ckickencoop Chinaman satirized both self-stereotyping and media-stereotyping, and his The Year of the Dragon was said in 1977 to be first Asian American play ever produced in New York.
asian american theatre4
Asian American Theatre
  • The best-known Asian American dramatist is David Henry Hwang, who first came to prominence in 1980 with F.O.B. His subsequent plays include The Dance and the Railroad, Family Devotions, Face Value, The Golden Child, and several works written in collaboration with Philip Glass.
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Asian American Theatre
  • Hwang’s best-known work is M. Butterfly (1988), which focuses on race, gender, and politics and suggests that Westerners view “Orientals” as submissively “feminine”, willing to be dominated by the aggressive, “masculine” West.
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Asian American Theatre
  • Other prominent Asian American playwrights include Ric Shiomi, Hans Ong, Ping Chong, Elozabeth Wong, Rosanna Yamagiwa, Winston Tong, Daryl Chin, and Naomi Iizuka.
native american theatre
Native American Theatre
  • There have been a few Native American theatre groups.
  • The first all-Native American company, the Native American Theatre Ensemble, was founded by Hanay Geiogamah in 1972. With support from the LaMama company in New York.
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Native American Theatre
  • In recent years, Geiogamah has transformed his company into the American Indian Dance Theatr, with nineteen members drawn from a dozen tribes.
  • The American Indian Community House in New York has long served as a community center for Native Americans living in New York and has maintained a performing arts program that has sought to revive authentic Native American rituals and performance traditions.
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Native American Theatre
  • Spiderwoman Theatre, founded by three Native American sisters, was the first all-female Native American group in the United States.
native american theatre3
Native American Theatre
  • Still other theatres and playwrights reflect the concerns of such groups as the deaf, blind, and elderly.
theatre by and for women
Theatre by and for Women
  • Women, representing as they do roughly one-half of the world’s population, cannot on one level be considered a minority.
  • Throughout the theatre’s history they have been relegated to a minor position.
  • In England they were not permitted to appear on the stage until 1661 , and though prominent as actresses thereafter, seldom did they write plays or attain positions of power in the theatre until recently.
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Theatre by and for Women
  • Only gradually since World War II have women come to be accepted as directors and heads of theatre companies.
  • Changes have come about primarily through concerns for women’s rights, which date back to at least the nineteenth century but were given new energy by the civil rights movement that accelerated in the 1960s.
theatre by and for women2
Theatre by and for Women
  • Beginning in the 1970s, a number of theatres were formed to present the work of feminist writers.
  • Some of the most important of these were The Looking Glass Theatre, New Georges, Six Figures Theatre Company, Voice and Vision, Women’s Interart Theatre, Spiderwoman Native American Theatre, and the Women’s Project and Productions, all in New York.
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Theatre by and for Women
  • Many female playwrights have written almost exclusively for feminist theatres and have not sought a larger audience.
  • Others have won recognition in mainstream theatres.
  • Among the best known of the latter group are Marsha Norman, Beth Henley, and Wendy Wasserstein.
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Theatre by and for Women
  • Norman is best known for ‘night, Mother, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1983.
  • Beth Henley has written primarily about colorful characters in small southern towns.
  • She was most successful with Crimes of the Heart.
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Theatre by and for Women
  • Wendy Wasserstein is best known for The Heidi Chronicles.
  • Other contemporary female playwrights is Paula Vogel. Her plays include And Baby Makes Seven, The Oldest Profession, The Baltimore Waltz, and The Mineola Twins. The bet known her play is How I Learned to Drive.
how i learned to drive
How I Learned to Drive
  • How I Learned to Drive brings into focus Vogel’s twin themes of incest and pedophilia, which “drive” the play.
  • The play was inspired by Vogel’s reading of Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita about a relationship between a man in his forties and a pre-teen girl.
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How I Learned to Drive
  • Vogel’s nonlinear narrative is madeup of nineteen scenes that portray the sexual initiation of Li’l Bit, beginning at age eleven and continuing to age eighteen.
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How I Learned to Drive
  • Li’l Bit’s family and friends from the backdrop to explain her socially conditioned responses to her sexual initiation by an adult relative.
  • The story’s complexity is enlarged by Peck, whose personal history is that of pedophile, voyeur, and sexual deviant.
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How I Learned to Drive
  • The play begins with Li’l Bit (all family nicknames are derived from their sexual features and her nickname derives from the family’s discovery at birth that the baby’s genitals are “just a little bit”) at age thirty-something reflecting on the “secret” of her forbidden sexual life when she was an adolescent.
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How I Learned to Drive
  • The play is framed by Li’l Bit’s two monologues, which set the emotional and physical landscape for the adolescent’s sexual molestation.
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How I Learned to Drive
  • Li’l Bit’s unspoken lesson is the residual effects, twenty years later, of her seven-year sexual molestation during her formative adolescent years.
  • She is suspended in a condition of alienation from others, having become the perpetual outsider and able to feel sensations only when she is driving a car.
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How I Learned to Drive
  • In her theory of memory, Paula Vogel puts weight on the sensory dimensions of Li’l Bit’s recollections – warm nights, full moon, and the fragrance of leather car seats pressing against her.
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How I Learned to Drive
  • As the narrator, Li’l Bit’s control of the narrative development affords her a creative role as she puts a figurative hand into her memory bank and pulls out the sexual initiations of her youth.
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How I Learned to Drive
  • Music, like sound effects, is an important feature of Vogel’s work.
  • She tells us that before she sits down to write a play, she makes a tape of songs and music to play continuously throughout her process.
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How I Learned to Drive
  • Nonetheless, Vogel’s is a balanced view of her feminist landscape.
  • For Vogel, the stage with its capacity for metaphor and live performance is a vibrant site for demonstrating the human act of remembering.
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How I Learned to Drive
  • Vogel’s ending is problematic.
  • The final scene suggests that Li’l Bit cannot fully escape the consequences of her abusive past.
  • She has been damaged but she can come to an understanding of her relationship with Pick.
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How I Learned to Drive
  • As she works toward finding self-forgiveness, understanding, and peace, she is effectively getting on with her life.
gay and lesbian theatre
Gay and Lesbian Theatre
  • Although homosexuality has been an occasional topic in drama since the Greeks, it was the primary focus in few plays until recently.
  • Matt Crowley’s The Boys in the Band (1968), the first play on Broadway specifically about gay men, is often said to have marked a turning point in the acceptability of plays about homosexuality, although all of its characters were still treated as doomed or irrevocably unhappy.
gay and lesbian theatre1
Gay and Lesbian Theatre
  • One of the best-known exponents of gay theatre was Charles Ludlam (1943-1987), head of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company from 1967 until his death and author of several plays which parodied familiar literary genres and the absurdities of art and life, Ludlam acted in his own plays, often playing several roles, most of them female.
gay and lesbian theatre2
Gay and Lesbian Theatre
  • Beginning in the 1980s, the AIDS crisis generated numerous gay plays, among the first of which were Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart and William Hoffman’s As Is, both in 1985.
  • Later AIDS plays include Cheryl West’s Befor It Hits Home, Terrence McNally’s Lips Together, Teeth Apart, Paul Rudnick’s Jeffrey, and Richard Greenberg’s Take Me Out.
gay and lesbian theatre3
Gay and Lesbian Theatre
  • Few lesbian plays were made their way into the mainstream.
  • Jane Chambers’s Last Summer at Bluefish Cove and Holly Hughes’s The Well of Horniness are among the best known.
gay and lesbian theatre4
Gay and Lesbian Theatre
  • Gay theatre companies in the United States have included TOSOS, the Stonewall Theatre, The Glines, and the Meridian Gay Theatre, all in New York; Theatre Rhinoceros in San Francisco; Diversity in Houston and others.
  • The theatre has become quite diverse.
  • Broadway’s attempt to encompass all tastes often leaves no one satisfied.
  • Ultimately, the need for intercultural communication and understanding may exceed the need for unicultural theatre.