Staging Presence/Embodying Absence: Performance And Protest In The Americas
This dissertation examines theatre for social change in communities of crisis across the Americas, where the body is the site of contestation, transformation, and collective action. Analyzing the influences and effects of politics, war, globalization, tourism, immigration, ethnicity, indigeneity, and collective memory on performance and protest, my research is situated in the Bolivian and Ecuadorian Andes, the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, and the Southwestern United States. I am particularly interested in groups and artists that come from and work within marginalized communities: the minor within the minor. The subjects of these performances-including indigenous peoples, women, youth, and immigrants-stage a collective presence and embody those who are absent or invisible, in addition to striving for societal change and a recognition of alternative histories. Boundaries and structures, whether real or imagined, exist throughout the Americas and define its inhabitants: First World and Third World; indigenous, ladino, and mestizo; male and female; urban and rural; legal and illegal; and lower, middle, and upper class, among others. In addition to these categories, citizens and artists of the Americas must also contend with differences that exist within their own socially conscious communities: race, culture, language, and religion. As a response to these violent and oppressive divisions, the artists and activists that I examine are staging acts of urgency that work to give an active voice to those experiencing grievous social infractions. I am intrigued by the intersections of different performance structures and the ways that these linkages challenge and reinterpret the concepts of visibility/invisibility, marked/unmarked, and the disappeared. Through ethnographic, historical, and artistic analyses, I examine the works of Atempo Danza and Teatro Trono (Bolivia), Teatro Contraelviento (Ecuador), Sa'as Tun (Mexico), and Teatro Bravo (U.S.), in addition to other forms of performance that include popular protest, storytelling, staged tourism, and song. Through close readings of these artists' works, all created within the first decade of the 21st century, I argue that the margins, together with performance, offer a space in which these bodies can transform into sites of collective and popular resistance that offer alternative visions and versions of living and being.
Theatre; Performance; Americas; Latin America
Gainor, J Ellen
Warner, Sara L; Castillo, Debra Ann
Ph. D., Theatre Arts
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis