University of Michigan Press

Triangulations: Lesbian/Gay/Queer Theate

Published by: University of Michigan Press

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Triangulations: Lesbian/Gay/Queer Theate

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Acts of Gaiety

LGBT Performance and the Politics of Pleasure

Sara Warner

Acts of Gaiety explores the mirthful modes of political performance by LGBT artists, activists, and collectives that have inspired and sustained deadly serious struggles for revolutionary change. The book explores antics such as camp, kitsch, drag, guerrilla theater, zap actions, rallies, manifestos, pageants, and parades alongside more familiar forms of "legitimate theater." Against queer theory's long-suffering romance with mourning and melancholia and a national agenda that urges homosexuals to renounce pleasure if they want to be taken seriously by mainstream society, Acts of Gaiety seeks to reanimate notions of "gaiety" as a political value for LGBT activism. The book mines the archives of lesbian-feminist activism of the 1960s-70s, highlighting the outrageous gaiety that lay at the center of the social and theatrical performances of the era and uncovering original documents long thought to be lost. Juxtaposing historical figures such as Valerie Solanas and Jill Johnston with more recent performers and activists (including Hothead Paisan, Bitch & Animal, and the Five Lesbian Brothers), Warner shows how reclaiming this largely discarded and disavowed past elucidates possibilities for being and belonging. Acts of Gaiety explores the mutually informing histories of gayness as politics and as joie de vivre, along with the centrality of liveliness to queer performance and protest.

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Bulldaggers, Pansies, and Chocolate Babies

Performance, Race, and Sexuality in the Harlem Renaissance

James F. Wilson

James F. Wilson uncovers fascinating new material on the Harlem Renaissance, shedding light on the oft-forgotten gay and lesbian contributions to the era's creativity and Civil Rights. Extremely well researched, compellingly written, and highly informative. ---David Krasner, author of A Beautiful Pageant: African American Theatre, Drama, and Performance in the Harlem Renaissance, 1910-1927 Bulldaggers, Pansies, and Chocolate Babies shines the spotlight on historically neglected plays and performances that challenged early twentieth-century notions of the stratification of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation. On Broadway stages, in Harlem nightclubs and dance halls, and within private homes sponsoring rent parties, African American performers of the 1920s and early 1930s teased the limits of white middle-class morality. Blues-singing lesbians, popularly known as "bulldaggers," performed bawdy songs; cross-dressing men vied for the top prizes in lavish drag balls; and black and white women flaunted their sexuality in scandalous melodramas and musical revues. Race leaders, preachers, and theater critics spoke out against these performances that threatened to undermine social and political progress, but to no avail: mainstream audiences could not get enough of the riotous entertainment. Many of the plays and performances explored here, central to the cultural debates of their time, had been previously overlooked by theater historians. Among the performances discussed are David Belasco's controversial production of Edward Sheldon and Charles MacArthur's Lulu Belle (1926), with its raucous, libidinous view of Harlem. The title character, as performed by a white woman in blackface, became a symbol of defiance for the gay subculture and was simultaneously held up as a symbol of supposedly immoral black women. African Americans Florence Mills and Ethel Waters, two of the most famous performers of the 1920s, countered the Lulu Belle stereotype in written statements and through parody, thereby reflecting the powerful effect this fictional character had on the popular imagination. Bulldaggers, Pansies, and Chocolate Babies is based on historical archival research including readings of eyewitness accounts, newspaper reports, songs, and playscripts. Employing a cultural studies framework that incorporates queer and critical race theory, it argues against the widely held belief that the stereotypical forms of black, lesbian, and gay show business of the 1920s prohibited the emergence of distinctive new voices. Specialists in American studies, performance studies, African American studies, and gay and lesbian studies will find the book appealing, as will general readers interested in the vivid personalities and performances of the singers and actors introduced in the book. James F. Wilson is Professor of English and Theatre at LaGuardia Community College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

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Butch Queens Up in Pumps

Gender, Performance, and Ballroom Culture in Detroit

Marlon M. Bailey

Butch Queens Up in Pumps examines Ballroom culture, in which inner-city LGBT individuals dress, dance, and vogue to compete for prizes and trophies. Participants are affiliated with a house, an alternative family structure typically named after haute couture designers and providing support to this diverse community. Marlon M. Bailey’s rich first-person performance ethnography of the Ballroom scene in Detroit examines Ballroom as a queer cultural formation that upsets dominant notions of gender, sexuality, kinship, and community.

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Margaret Webster

A Life in the Theater

Milly S. Barranger

In Milly Barranger, Margaret Webster has found the perfect biographer. In Margaret Webster, Milly Barranger has found her perfect subject. She brings to vivid life a fascinating and important theater figure whose public and private lives were of equal interest. In this carefully researched book, Webster's colleagues, lovers, and friends shine as brightly as she did. I wish she were here to read it. -Marian Seldes "Margaret Webster is a highly welcome addition to our knowledge of the first important female director in American theater. Remembered now especially for her staging of Othello with Paul Robeson, Uta Hagen, and Jose Ferrer, Margaret Webster was probably the best-known, in-demand, and admired director of Shakespeare in America in the 1940s and 1950s. Fascinating throughout, the book's discussions of working with Robeson, and of HUAC, which targeted her just as her career was reaching a peak, make for especially engrossing reading." -Oscar Brockett Margaret Webster: A Life in the Theater is an engrossing backstage account of the life of pioneering director Margaret Webster (1905-72). This is the first book-length biography of Webster, a groundbreaking stage and opera director whose career challenged not only stage tradition but also mainstream attitudes toward professional women. Often credited with first having brought Shakespeare to Broadway, and renowned for her bold casting of an African American (Paul Robeson) in the role of Othello, Webster was a creative force in modern American and British theater. Her story reveals the independent-minded artist undeterred by stage tradition and unmindful of rules about a woman's place in the professional theater. In addition to providing fascinating glimpses into Webster's personal and family life, Margaret Webster: A Life in the Theater also offers a who's-who list of the biggest names in New York and London theater of the time, as well as Hollywood: John Gielgud, No-l Coward, George Bernard Shaw, Uta Hagen, Sybil Thorndike, Eva LeGallienne, and John Barrymore, among others, all of whom crossed paths with Webster. Capping Webster's amazing story is her investigation by Senator Joseph McCarthy and HUAC, which left her unable to work for a year, and from which she never fully recovered.

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Murder Most Queer

The Homicidal Homosexual in the American Theater

Jordan Schildcrout

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Performing Queer Latinidad

Dance, Sexuality, Politics

Ramón H. Rivera-Servera

Performing Queer Latinidad highlights the critical role that performance played in the development of Latina/o queer public culture in the United States during the 1990s and early 2000s, a period when the size and influence of the Latina/o population was increasing alongside a growing scrutiny of the public spaces where latinidad could circulate. Performances---from concert dance and street protest to the choreographic strategies deployed by dancers at nightclubs---served as critical meeting points and practices through which LGBT and other nonnormative sex practitioners of Latin American descent (individuals with greatly differing cultures, histories of migration or annexation to the United States, and contemporary living conditions) encountered each other and forged social, cultural, and political bonds. At a time when latinidad ascended to the national public sphere in mainstream commercial and political venues and Latina/o public space was increasingly threatened by the redevelopment of urban centers and a revived anti-immigrant campaign, queer Latinas/os in places such as the Bronx, San Antonio, Austin, Phoenix, and Rochester, NY, returned to performance to claim spaces and ways of being that allowed their queerness and latinidad to coexist. These social events of performance and their attendant aesthetic communication strategies served as critical sites and tactics for creating and sustaining queer latinidad.

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