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You Can't Just Be a Picture: Expressionistic Memory and Trauma in "Lion in the Streets"

Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Non-naturalistic forms of theater are key to effectively representing psychic states onstage. Judith Thompson’s "Lion in the Streets" dramatizes the experience and recollection of trauma by blending reality, memory, and fantasy so the three become indistinguishable. Combining expressionism with a memory play, Thompson’s writing manifests internal states through external means to present the fractured, fragmented, and flexible ways in which the psyche recalls the past.

Using my production of "Lion in the Streets" (UC Santa Cruz, Experimental Theater, Winter 2017) as a case study, I argue the necessity for an expressionistic approach to directing that embraces the semiotics of the stage. I begin with an analysis of how Thompson’s script operates, explaining the relationship between expressionism and memory. Through an in-depth dramatic analysis of my choices as a director, regarding both design and direction, I prove the relevance of my stylistic approach to the medium in presenting narratives of trauma.

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