Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Beth Osnes

Second Advisor

Bud Coleman

Third Advisor

Amanda Giguere

Fourth Advisor

Lynn Nichols

Fifth Advisor

Cecilia J. Pang

Abstract

This research looks at how playwrights within a specific and unique community use theatre to address challenges faced by that community to bring about positive change. Specifically, this investigation focuses on the American LGBTQ community, who have historically demonstrated a high level of success in using theatre to bring public awareness to specific issues, such as homophobia and AIDS, and how playwrights within that community are currently dealing with the ongoing crisis of teen suicide and bullying, particularly in light of a string of LGBTQ bullying-related suicides in September 2010. It asks the questions: is bullying becoming a common theme in the post-AIDS era of gay theatre-making? What approaches and techniques are being used by these playwrights in their attempt to affect change? And finally, do these approaches reflect knowledge gained from the work of previous gay and lesbian playwrights in the Identity plays and the AIDS plays?

Three core chapters will analyze and contextualize the approaches taken in six plays that focus on the physical, verbal, and psychological intimidation of children and adolescents written by LGBTQ-identified American playwrights in the period of 2010 - 2015. The approaches will then be examined in relation to current national initiatives being taken to reduce peer-victimization and violence in schools. Interviews with four of the playwrights will add insight into the personal, political, or social motivation for writing the work and the intended outcome.

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