Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Bud Coleman

Second Advisor

Oliver Gerland

Third Advisor

Jay Keister

Fourth Advisor

Beth Osnes

Fifth Advisor

David Jortner


Playwrights build their plays using theatrical conventions. These conventions’ meanings are culturally situated and dependent on both the playwright and audience sharing an understanding of what they mean. When a playwright utilizes theatrical conventions from a culture different than their audience’s those plays inhabit a space between two cultures, containing elements from both. This dissertation explores plays written by American playwrights who use elements of the Japanese traditional performing arts of noh, kabuki and bunraku. Using Homi Bhabha’s theory of Third Space, a series of case studies apply the metaphor of playwright as architect as an analytical model. These plays are built from cultural materials and crafted into meaning by the playwright. The use of Japanese traditional theatre in the case-study plays (In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel by Tennessee Williams, The Long Christmas Ride Home by Paula Vogel, 36 Views by Naomi Iizuka, The Saint Plays by Erik Ehn, and The Lily’s Revenge: A Flowergorey Manifold by Taylor Mac) are examined in comparative close-readings. Each playwright uses different tactics to expose their audiences to Japanese theatrical conventions and build a play in Third Space.