While LGBTQ+ narratives have become an established part of national storytelling in contemporary theatre in the United States, considerably more often than not such plays and productions focus on urban queer experiences rather than the rural. Many queer theorists, including J. Jack Halberstam, have argued that such a lack of representation is grounded in the false notion of a “metronormativity” suggesting that queers must migrate to the city in order to survive. Through critical readings of two recent revival productions of canonical American works, Christopher Alden’s Peter Pan (2017) and Daniel Fish’s Oklahoma! (2018), this essay demonstrates how queer rurality was presented conceptually and dramaturgically, reconfiguring ideologies of nationalism that would see the urban/rural as a polarized binary. Drawing on the author’s personal experience, the essay extends Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s foundational theory of the closet (in/out) through its original concept of “closet ajar,” critically unpacking the imagined constructs of these productions where rural queers are alternatively presented as a part of the community at large. The essay argues that these productions open possibilities for future representations of queer intersectional rurality in American performance (and beyond) and scholarship across disciplines.


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pp. 37-59
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