Performance in America: Contemporary U.S. Culture and the Performing Arts

Duke University Press
Free sample

Performance in America demonstrates the vital importance of the performing arts to contemporary U.S. culture. Looking at a series of specific performances mounted between 1994 and 2004, well-known performance studies scholar David Román challenges the belief that theatre, dance, and live music are marginal art forms in the United States. He describes the crucial role that the performing arts play in local, regional, and national communities, emphasizing the power of live performance, particularly its immediacy and capacity to create a dialogue between artists and audiences. Román draws attention to the ways that the performing arts provide unique perspectives on many of the most pressing concerns within American studies: questions about history and politics, citizenship and society, and culture and nation.

The performances that Román analyzes range from localized community-based arts events to full-scale Broadway productions and from the controversial works of established artists such as Tony Kushner to those of emerging artists. Román considers dances produced by the choreographers Bill T. Jones and Neil Greenberg in the mid-1990s as new aids treatments became available and the aids crisis was reconfigured; a production of the Asian American playwright Chay Yew’s A Beautiful Country in a high-school auditorium in Los Angeles’s Chinatown; and Latino performer John Leguizamo’s one-man Broadway show Freak. He examines the revival of theatrical legacies by female impersonators and the resurgence of cabaret in New York City. Román also looks at how the performing arts have responded to 9/11, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and the second war in Iraq. Including more than eighty illustrations, Performance in America highlights the dynamic relationships among performance, history, and contemporary culture through which the past is revisited and the future reimagined.

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About the author

David Román is Professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. He is the author of Acts of Intervention: Performance, Gay Culture, and AIDS and a coeditor of O Solo Homo: The New Queer Performance.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Nov 23, 2005
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Pages
376
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ISBN
9780822387442
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / Semiotics & Theory
Performing Arts / Film / History & Criticism
Social Science / LGBT Studies / Gay Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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“Fresh, funny, sad, and sexy . . . [A] diverse collection of good, honest, and soundly structured monologue writing” (David Drake, Obie Award–winning actor and playwright).
 
O Solo Homo is a diverse, definitive, and hugely entertaining collection representing the cutting edge of queer solo performance. The pieces in O Solo Homo touch nerves that run deep—from sex, politics, community, and health to the struggles and joys of family, friends, and lovers. Peggy Shaw, of Split Britches, revisits how she learned to be butch. The late Ron Vawter, of the Wooster Group, juxtaposes the lives of two very different men who died of AIDS: diva filmmaker Jack Smith and Nixon crony Roy Cohn. Tim Miller, one of the NEA 4, surveys the landscape of gay desire before and after the advent of AIDS. And Carmelita Tropicana, the “national songbird of Cuba,” makes an unforgettable, hilarious return to Havana.
 
“A funny, personal, powerful primer of identity, performance and politics. O Solo Homo is a must read.” —Paula Vogel, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of How I Learned to Drive
 
“Naked passion, fiery intellect and dissatisfaction with the status quo mark all good performance art. This collection embodies those elements at their best. Each piece makes you sit up and listen.” —Jewelle Gomez, author of The Gilda Stories
 
“O Solo Homo represents the most significant and vibrant cross-section of queer solo performance since the gospels. A must-have field guide for the amateur and professional alike. Ten thumbs up!” —The Five Lesbian Brothers
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