Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



While performance practitioners often rely on socially, aesthetically, and politically transgressive practices to critically impact the socio-political climate outside the theater walls, transgression is fraught with contradiction. Historically, acts of transgression have led to both the expansion and suppression of democratic rights. (Im)possibilites of Theatre and Transgression employs a critical lens that takes into account the historical and ideological specificities of individual productions in Austin, TX and Baton Rouge, LA to argue that transgressive theatrical practices both counter and reproduce normalizing discourses and discourses of domination in local and regional culture. This study focuses on the types of aesthetically, socially, and politically transgressive theatrical practices that seek to interrogate and challenge boundaries related to individual and cultural identity—pushing toward a more plural and radical concept of democracy—and are endemic to present day US theatres located on the cultural fringe. It examines alternative theatre practices which prevailed in Austin in the nineties to argue that a transgressive critique of “normalcy” can in fact strengthen regimes of the normal locally and regionally. It looks to an LGBTQ focused company in Austin to underscore the ways in which overtly commercial, exploitative queer erotic performance practices can also serve a positively transgressive, political and identity-affirming function within local and regional culture. Analysis then turns to performances staged in Baton Rouge following Hurricane Katrina to contend that transgressive nontraditional casting practices both facilitate and fail an ethics of tolerance and inclusiveness within local and regional contexts. Finally, (Im)possibilities of Theatre and Transgression suggests that transgression itself achieved significance in the US through currencies of performance at the end of the twentieth century.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Fletcher, John