“Persian Like The Cat”: Crossing Borders with The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour

Tamara L. Smith/ In the wake of the attacks of September 11, Americans of Middle Eastern heritage experienced a sudden and dramatic change in how their ethnicities were perceived. As comedian and activist Dean Obeidallah explained, “On September 10, I went to bed white, and woke up Arab.”[1] Once comfortable […]

Tony Kushner’s Angels in America: Histories, Futures, and Queer Lives

Vanessa Campagna/ We must strive, in the face of the here and now’s totalizing rendering of reality, to think and feel a then and there. . . . Queerness is essentially about the rejection of a here and now and an insistence on potentiality for another world.[1] José Esteban Muñoz […]

Ida Wells-Barnett and Chicago’s Pekin Theatre

Karen Bowdre/ Ida Wells-Barnett (1862-1931) is well known as an anti-lynching advocate and activist, but she is less well known for her involvement with the theatre. In this essay, I argue that she played an instrumental role in creating new attitudes concerning the theatre and artistic expression. She engaged in […]

Introduction (JADT 26.2, 2014)

   “The border is not merely a wall or a body of water. It is a force of containment that inspires dreams of being overcome and crossed…” Ramón H. Rivera-Servera and Harvey Young, Performance in the Borderlands (2011)   The American Theatre and Drama Society, now in its twenty-seventh year, is […]

Hot Pursuit: Researching Across the Theatre/Film Border

The value of interdisciplinary inquiry in the study of American drama and theatre has been persuasively established, so much so that it is virtually a commonplace. Scholars working in the field today routinely draw on work from the humanities, from the social sciences, from ecobiology and cognitive science and any […]

YoungGiftedandFat: Performing Transweight Identities

The body will tell the truth when all else fails, with or without you.1 Misty DeBerry, Performance Artist I am a black woman who wishes for a time That I could gain my weight back And still be fine Four years ago I lived as a fat black female, actress […]

Crossing Genre, Age and Gender: Judith Anderson as Hamlet

In 1970 Judith Anderson, doyenne of the classical American stage, fulfilled a long-held desire to play the title role in Hamlet. Employing a heavily cut text and minimalist setting, the production relied on the power of voice to illuminate Shakespeare’s poetry. Yet most viewers were unable to see past Anderson’s […]

Alternative Transnationals: Naomi Wallace and Cross-Cultural Performances

In summer 2002, the paths of war crisscrossed American public discourse. The war in Afghanistan had continued for over half a year, and the Bush Administration was beginning to lay the groundwork of lies and misinformation that would form the justification for invading Iraq. Meanwhile, Naomi Wallace led a group […]

Between Blackface and Bondage: The Incompletely Forgotten Failure of The Underground Railroad‘s 1879 Midwestern Tour

In 1879, nineteen-year-old Pauline Hopkins’s musical slave drama, The Underground Railroad, flopped. Reviews panned the production, suggesting the plagiaristic knock-off of Joseph Bradford’s Out of Bondage “lacked interest and was devoid of plot.” Audiences noted the lackluster performances, asserting “the company can’t sing like the Hyers sisters” (the pioneering African […]

“One Live as Two, Two Live as One”: Bert Williams and the Uprooted Bamboo Tree

As a black blackface entertainer and influential international star, Bert Williams has held a continuous fascination for theatre historians, in large part because Williams signifies the contradictions of blackface as much as he lived the history of African American minstrelsy. His work with George Walker starting in the 1890s, groundbreaking […]