2020 Honors Theses


Apart, Together: Networked Spectatorship in a Virulent Age

by Emma Reade Dorfman
Thesis directed by Alisa Zhulina

This thesis examines the mutations of digital spectatorship in the age of social distancing. By analyzing the National Theatre’s production of Ella Hickson’s ANNA and Bard College’s live stream of Caryl Churchill’s Mad Forest, Dorfman explores the roles of “viral performance,” voyeurism, and surveillance in the age of mediated performance.


Metempsychosis: Examining the Transmigration of Black Queerness as a Resilient Force of Possibility

by Essence John Johnson
Thesis directed by Alisa Zhulina

This thesis examines the absence and invisibility of black queer voices and bodies from sci-fi theatre. Through an analysis of the writings of Octavia E. Butler, the work of National Black Theater, and the film Black Panther, Johnson lays out a theoretical framework for black queerness in contemporary theatre and performance and the possibility for a truly diverse audience.


Forced into Hysterics: The “Madwomen” of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and Tennessee Williams’s A Street Car Named Desire

by Amanda Elise Lanza
Thesis directed by Alisa Zhulina

This thesis argues that the association of women with madness and hysteria in The Crucible and A Street Car Named Desire is the result of patriarchy’s attempt to control the agency and authority of women. Reading the two plays along with feminist theories and the acting teachings of Lee Strasberg, Lanza highlights the many moments of subversive rebellion in these works that actresses would take up in mid-century America to assert their creative authority.


Performance as an Act of Tribal Sovereignty: Conversations with Mary Kathryn Nagle, Randy Reinholz, Ty Defoe

by Emily Preis
Thesis directed by Mauricio Salgado

Tribal sovereignty and the right for Tribal Nations on Turtle Island to self-govern is at the heart of every Indigenous issue. This thesis looks at the work of three Native multi-faceted performance artists in order to determine what kinds of live performance can affect change in the fight for tribal sovereignty.


“You Get to Speak Poetry”: How Western Acting Pedagogies Have Taught Actors to Chase the Rush of Personal Emotional Exploitation

by Kyndall Sillanpaa
Thesis directed by Alisa Zhulina

In the pursuit of helping spectators achieve catharsis, Western pedagogies of acting have encouraged actors to experience the most extreme versions of a condensed emotional life. Reading Chekhov’s The Seagull and Duncan Macmillan’s People, Places and Things alongside theories of acting, Sillanpaa traces the emotional risks that actors take and highlights the dangers of becoming addicted to the emotional highs of acting.


"I must be brave whether my request is successful or not": Women Seeking Justice in Euripides' Barbarian Plays

by Iris Smith-d’Agincourt
Thesis directed by Robert Davis

In Euripides' Hecuba and Medea, the titular heroines exhibit behavior far beyond the permitted scope of action for women in ancient Greece. In examining the agency both women exhibit, in light of their status as Barbarians (foreigners), Iris asks: when we have lost everything and are at the end of our world, how do we act and how can we respond? Hecuba and Medea are models that justify extreme action in the face of extreme need: they create opportunities for themselves, and by extension disenfranchised citizens, to claim justice independent of their oppressors.