This dissertation is a critically creative response to contemporary U.S. devised theatrical performance and the relationships it instantiates between artists and spectators, and artists and critics. In order to tease out the complexities of these relationships, I theorize stupidity as an integral element in the creation of devised performances, their reception by spectators, and the critical methods best used to engage with them. I develop the concept of stupidity seriously and paradoxically as thought that cannot be thought. Stupid thinking is thought that interrupts discursive structures such as conscious thought that is shaped like language and is grounded in our storehouses of knowledge. Stupidity sustains the affective possibilities of non-knowledge that would otherwise be foreclosed by the drive for knowledge production. I attempt to answer the questions: how do I write of devised performances rather than about them? How do I attend to the embodied complexity of devised performances as I transmogrify them into scholarly discourse? To answer these questions I performatively write alongside devised theatrical performances and deploy methods that take their cue from ethnographic practices. My writing also takes cues from the work of the artists I engage: Ann Liv Young (New York), Every House Has A Door (Chicago), and SuperGroup (Minneapolis). Together my chapters argue that by relying on stupid tactics--such as chance, incompetence, and obscenity--in their own creative processes these artists all instigate a reconfiguration of the relationship between artwork and viewer, and thereby a simultaneous reconfiguration of the relationship between spectators and their own presumed-to-be-stable subject positions.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2011. Major:Theatre Arts. Advisor:Dr. Margaret Werry. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 229 pages.
McConnell, George David.
Struck stupid : 21st Century theatrical performance and the limits of a discourse..
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