Notes on EstrAGEment: Age, Theater, Theory
Deconstructions of such fixed binaries as Male and Female, White and Black, and Straight and Gay, produced valuable analytic tools. Why have theater and performance theorists left Youth and Age unexamined? Elinor Fuchs’s talk is a first attempt to bring Critical Age Studies into conversation with the concerns of Theatre and Performance Studies.
Screening the ‘Emancipated Spectator’: The FTA’s Soldier-Spectator on Display
In 1972, American International Pictures released FTA!, a documentary film following the 1971 tour of an anti-war variety show to soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines stationed in Okinawa, Japan, Hawaii, and the Philippines. Led by Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland, the FTA show (for “Free” or “Fuck the Army”) offered an alternative to the patriotism (as well as sexism and racism) of Bob Hope’s iconic USO performances. The documentary shows in no uncertain terms the enthusiasm of the FTA’s enlisted audiences. Through interviews with and images of the soldier-spectators, it provides vivid evidence of what was by then a well-organized and militant GI movement within the Armed Forces. My talk focuses on the film’s representation of its soldier-spectators and examines the FTA’s dependence upon maintaining and even emphasizing an actor-spectator divide that most radical theatre groups of the period were committed to challenging as inherently politically problematic. In conversation with Jacques Ranciere’s “The Emancipated Spectator,” I examine the strange acting practice of the spectated soldier-spectator.
Genre and the Space of Social Emotion in Nineteenth Century Indian Theater
Farces, comedies, melodrama—among other theatrical genres—all contributed to a multifaceted experience of the theatre in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Perhaps the only truly “public” space (physical, discursive, and performative) in the nineteenth century, the theater nurtured, interrogated, and reconstituted new subjectivities. Theater created new subjectivities by integrating the emotional understanding of rasa and equating it with concepts of liberal humanism as theorized by Adam Smith and David Hume. It functioned as a marketplace of ideas, where the humor of a farce or the sentiment of a melodrama addressed the most pressing social issues of the day in very different ways. In my talk, I will examine a few different plays—all of which consider companionate marriage and women’s education—from the differing perspectives of various genres. My purpose is not to provide a social commentary on these issues myself. Instead, I take a broader perspective and think about the ways in which the theater functions to facilitate the free exchange of ideas, tempered by genre and emotion.