Gender and Theatre

Course Description and Objectives

"Passport? I wasn't aware that we were crossing any borders."
–Blanche, in Belle Reprieve by Split Britches

"Baby, I was born this way."
–Lady Gaga

"We may never touch queerness, but we can feel it as the warm illumination of a horizon imbued with potentiality ... an ideality that can be distilled from the past and used to imagine a future. The future is queerness' domain. Queerness is a structuring and educated mode of desiring that allows us to see the future beyond the quagmire of the present. The here and now is a prison house. We must strive, in the face of the here and now's totalizing rendering of reality, to think and feel a then and there. Some will say that all we have are the pleasures of the moment, but we must never settle for that minimal transport; we must dream and enact new and better pleasures, other ways of being in the world, and ultimately new worlds ... Queerness is essentially about the rejection of a here and now and an insistence on potentiality or concrete possibility for another world."
–José Esteban Muñoz (1967- 2013) Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity

This five-part class examines the roles gender has played in the shaping of world theatre alongside the roles the theatre has played in the shaping of various cultural conceptions of gender. We will focus on 20th and 21st-century performance, most specifically performance from the past forty years, including various examples of cross-dressing, the notable endeavor of "re-dressing" canonical plays, the ascent of solo performance artists and trans* performance, and questions of theatre and gender raised by performers from Japan to Cuba. In the process, we will interrogate the historical, cultural and personal variability of the notion of "gender" itself. In this course, we will talk about theatre through the lens of gender, constantly asking ourselves: "What are theatre people doing with the idea of gender?"