Date of Degree

9-2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Theatre and Performance

Advisor

Peter Eckersall

Committee Members

David Savran

Frank Hentschker

Subject Categories

Performance Studies | Social Justice | Theatre History

Keywords

Devised theatre, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Ensemble theatre

Abstract

This dissertation examines the vitality and importance of ensemble-generated experimental theatre in the United States beyond traditional creative capitals. I investigate the transformations that are taking place in US independent contemporary theatre and show that these changes are connected to issues of place and the local. I frame this inquiry by detailing five community-based, experimental ensembles working in five deindustrializing cities: Team Sunshine Performance Corporation in Philadelphia, Goat in the Road Productions in New Orleans, Maelstrom Collaborative Arts in Cleveland, Hatch Arts Collective in Pittsburgh, and A Host of People in Detroit. Through these case studies I show how local issues—political, economic, and cultural – influence the work of contemporary theatremakers. I contend that these artists, and others like them, use theatre’s locatedness to position themselves in the world. In addition, I apply the newly articulated structure of feeling metamodernism to this cohort of artists, as reflective of this contemporary moment. The dissertation culminates in an analysis of A Host of People of which I am a co-founder and co-director. Drawing from the field of autoethnography, I present a thick description of A Host of People’s engagement with Detroit, the US city that is most associated with the negative implications of deindustrialization. In the end, I argue for the need for increased infrastructural support in order for this crucial sector to sustain itself, grow, and continue to engage the public.

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