Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Theatre & Dance
Throughout the history of the U.S. military, soldiers have created their own theatrical entertainments as a means to boost morale, maintain resiliency, and avoid boredom. Today, the annual U.S. Soldier Show, Army Entertainment Division's most widely attended production, reaches approximately 140,000 people worldwide. With over 200 Army bases situated in the United States alone, the reach of the Army Entertainment Division's biggest national offering in 2013 was estimated to be 60,000 soldiers, family members, retirees, and civilian Department of Defense (DoD) employees.
This study aims to fill in a gap of knowledge for most theater scholars. Many are unaware that theater plays any role in organized military service. Because the number of U.S. Army bases operating their own independent theater seasons has dwindled over the years, it is important to study the few remaining Army-based community theaters to appreciate the unique structure and operations required within a military environment. Not only is this research important, it is long overdue. While the history of the U.S.O. during World War II has been heavily documented, there has been very little research on more recent uses of entertainment, specifically theater, in the military and even less research on those performances produced from within the military (not just for the soldier, but created by the soldier, as well). Theater scholars would benefit from recognizing the potential contributions of the military, specifically the U.S. Army and its long-running Army Entertainment Division with its multi-million dollar budget, in building new generations of both theater artists and enthusiasts. Likewise, theater scholars must recognize the potential contributions they can make on U.S. military bases as artist-educators who can continue the development and facilitation of live theater in new and creative ways before the arts disappear from military installations altogether.
Dabney, Karen Michelle, ""For the Soldier, By the Soldier": Self-produced Theater on Stateside U.S. Army Bases from 1983 - 2013" (2015). Theatre and Dance Graduate Theses & Dissertations. 33.