Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Theatre & Dance

First Advisor

Oliver Gerland

Second Advisor

Bud Coleman

Third Advisor

Beth Osnes

Fourth Advisor

Cecilia Pang

Fifth Advisor

Pamyla Stiehl


This project examines the act of introducing the diversity of contemporary American theatre to undergraduate students in Introduction to Theatre textbooks. Due to an increased focus on multicultural pedagogy in the late twentieth century, textbook authors began to include chapters or sections which pointed to diversity as a unique feature of contemporary American theatre. In doing so, new genres were created based on the identity of the playwrights and the types of plays they wrote (African American theatre, Asian American theatre, Hispanic theatre, Native American theatre, feminist or women's theatre, and gay and lesbian theatre). Diversity is a salient component of contemporary American theatre and it is important to note the vital role diversity plays in present-day theatre. For the first time in history, traditionally underrepresented groups have been given a theatrical voice in mainstream theatre. However, this study asserts that categorizing contemporary American playwrights in theatre textbooks based on their race, ethnicity, gender and/or sexuality does a disservice to theatre students because it presents an incomplete picture of the playwrights and their work. In addition, the opinions of the playwrights regarding whether or not they wish to be included in an identity-based category is ignored by textbook authors. By labeling a playwright and his or her work as representative of a singular category textbook authors are also ignoring the reality that many playwrights self-identify as members of multiple identity groups and that each of these impact the playwright's worldview and the types of plays he or she writes. The conclusion of this project proposes a new model for introducing the diversity of contemporary American theatre. This new model maintains an emphasis on the important role diversity plays in contemporary American theatre. In addition it presents a more comprehensive image of the playwrights and their work to undergraduate theatre students and includes the playwrights' own views and opinions regarding labeling them and their work based on their race, ethnicity, gender and/or sexuality.