PS M.A. Alum Bess Rowen Publishes first book 'the lines between the lines'

Tuesday, Nov 23, 2021

Bess Rowen

Photo Credit: Kimberly Reilly

Congratulations to PS Alum Bess Rowen (M.A. '11) who just published her first book, The Lines Between the Lines, with the University of Michigan Press. Rowen is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Theater at Villanova.

Rowen’s book is the first full-length study focused on how stage directions function and why they matter to the reading and performance of play scripts. The Lines Between the Lines focuses on how playwrights have written stage directions that engage readers, production team members, and scholars in a process of embodied creation in order to determine meaning. Author Bess Rowen calls the products of this method “affective stage directions” because they reach out from the page and affect the bodies of those who encounter them. Affective stage directions do not tell a reader or production team what a given moment looks like, but rather how a moment feels.

Rowen says of her book and its connection to the Department of Performance STudies at NYU, "My work in The Lines Between the Lines owes so much to Barbara Browning, Karen Shimakawa, José Muñoz, and Richard Shechner, who are all thanked in my Acknowledgements because their coursework pushed me to think about embodiment, affect, and performance in new ways. At some point in the research for this book, I realized that my MA thesis on how sorority handbooks script the embodiment of sorority members is the starting point for my work on stage directions. I spent my time in PS studying the sorority version of stage directions before I translated that process to the theatre. I use the skills I learned in NYU's Performance Studies program every single day, and The Lines Between the Lines wouldn't exist without my time there."