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Performance Beyond The Binary: Towards An Intersectional And Intersexual Theatrical Discourse

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Performance Beyond The Binary:

Towards An Intersectional And Intersexual Theatrical Discourse

My research is rooted in post-structural feminist, intersectional, and queer theories. This thesis seeks to ignite a discursive dialogue about the sociopolitical reinforcement of the western gender binary in the theater. By drawing on political theories that highlight gender as an anti-essentialist product of culture (a social construct), I seek to discuss my methodologies of adapting these theories for the stage. From a post-structural view, gender is a network reinforced by larger institutional systems. After discussing the many institutions that which contribute to the preservation of the gender binary, I will offer ‘intersexuality’ (as reappropriated from its medical etymology) as a discursive intersectional approach to theater. I am interested in theater’s role in the production of identity and of new meaning. In analyzing forms of transgender and gender variant resistance on stage, I hope to posit theater as an organizer of political resistance off stage. Ultimately I will provide case studies from Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s Hamlet and from UCSC’s The Odyssey, Two Gentlemen of Verona, and Zoot Suit, that employed subversive artistic choices in order to navigate the gender binary. Expounding on techniques like genderswap casting, nonbinary acting, and cross-gender casting, I assert that artists who take an intersectional and intersexual approach when representing gender on stage, can mobilize audiences to think more critically about gender beyond the binary off stage.

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