Uploaded by calexwebster

(Wo)man In the Middle

C. Alex Webster
November 2019
Dr. Dorothy Chansky
Dramatic Criticism
(Wo)Man In the Middle:
Technology Recenters the Female in a Post-structuralist Society
Technology Recenters artistic participants in the post-structural era by changing the
hierarchy in collective creation, offering contrast between bodies in performance and
technological elements, and creating interdisciplinary research connections.
The tradition of devising is long and intense, but in Aristotelian tradition the text
is at the center. The playwright’s words are of the upmost importance, and the
production wholeheartedly supports them. According to Kathryn Syssoyeva and
Scott Proudfit in From Margin to Center: Collective Creation and Devising,
collective creation has come to the forefront of western theatre around the turn
of the 20th century. Their book follows twelve vastly different representations of
collective creation, and seeks to understand the practices through social,
political, and artistic lenses. Through understanding the pushback to a neoliberal,
patriarchal society resulting in a process which the individual (both audience and
artist in co-creation) is prioritized.
Research sources include: Frederec Jameson’s The Anti-Aesthetic,
Postmodernism and Consumer Society, Kathryn Syssoyeva’s Women, Collective
Creation and Devised Performance: The Rise of Women Theatre Artists in the 20 th
and 21st Centuries, Vanessa Garcis’s essay The Paradox of Devised Theatre on the
Twenty-First Century Stage, Nicola Gavey’s Contributions to Feminist Psychology:
Feminist Postructuralism and Discourse Analysis, and two chapters from
Research Methods in the Social Sciences: From Structuralism to Poststructuralism
by Lee Miller, Joanne Whalley, and Ian Stomach, and Feminism/Poststructuralism
by Bronwyn Davies and Susanne Gannon.
Through the lens of modern film studies, along with the grumbles of many
theatre artists, there’s a distinct difference between film and live theatre. Susan
Sontag argues in her essay Film and Theatre in the Fall 1966 edition of the Tulane
Drama Review that film and theatre are separate because of live theatre ageless
nature (it’s always being performed in real time). From Gestalt Design Theory,
there is a concept of, “Contrast equals interest”, which is supported by
psychologists Marcos Nadal and Adjan Chatterjee.
a. In Snoop Dogg’s live performance at the Coachella Music Festival in 2012, he
featured a hologram of Tupac Shakur, which received mixed reactions from
audiences and critics. There was a digitally represented human and a live
human on stage, and this interaction ultimately supported and enhanced
Snoop Dogg’s Coachella reception and resulted in an incredible revenue
b. Disney’s Frozen the Musical opened on Broadway in March 2018 featuring
state of the art projection design technology which was used to draw focus to
our female protagonist. (The musical itself passes the Bechdel test.) The
technology used to create the male fantastical characters (Sven the reindeer
C. Alex Webster
November 2019
Dr. Dorothy Chansky
Dramatic Criticism
and Olaf the snowman), is dated and simplified in comparison. The use of
technology reinforced high status and ability of female characters.
Research sources include: Susan Sontag’s Film and Theatre, Gregory Alber
Waller’s The Stage/Screen Debate: A Study in Popular Aesthetics, Hugo
Münsterberg’s The Photoplay: A Psychological Study, Franklin and Mewhort’s
Memory as a Hologram: An Analysis of Learning and Recall, Sourya Acharya and
Samarth Shukla’s Mirror Neurons: Enigma of the Meatphysical Modular Brain,
Marcos Nadal and Adjan Chatterjee’s Neuroaesthetics and Art’s Diversity and
Universiality, Janelle Croshaw’s process of creating Tupac Shakur as told by
Aaron Dodson in The Strange Legacy of Tupac’s ‘Hologram”, Broadway World’s
Frozen’s Creative Team Talks the Technology, and Time Magazine’s article Inside
Disney’s Ambitious Plan to Bring Frozen to Broadway by Eliana Dockerman.
Technology put the individual at the forefront of performance in our poststructural era in interdisciplinary performance. Bertolt Brecht in his essay On the
Experimental Theatre says that, “the [alienated] spectator need no longer see
the human beings presented on the stage as being unchangeable, unadaptable,
and handed over helpless to fate.” Technology is another layer that can, in
proximity to a live human, “produce surprise and curiosity…historifying,
presenting events and persons as historical, and therefore as ephemeral.” This
layered concept of technology produces surprise and curiosity and shows female
bodies on stage as changeable, adaptable, and capable to stand on their own.
a. In The Female Role Model Project produced at Three-Legged Dog,
Manhattan’s hub for technology in theatre, combines theatre and
neuroscience to celebrate female pioneers. Music producer and composer,
Justin Mathews created an program to analyse and translate live
neuroscience recordings to music during performance. The performers
explored commonly-identified western social conceptions of the female
gender during life stages as defined by psychologist Dr. Thomas Armstrong.
They wore some of the first Bluetooth Electroencephalogram (EEG)
Instruments to record their brain activity. A neuroscientist was able to
analyse the findings to discuss the scientific nature of connections between
female-identifying artists and audience members. This use of technology put
topics of the female gender in the center of conversation, while using the
findings to highlight female bodies on and off the stage.
Research sources include: Broadening the Interdisciplinary Approach of
Technology Education: Connections Between Communications, Lanugage, and
the Literary Arts by Mark Snyder at Clemson University, Thomas Armstrong’s The
Human Odyssey, Rachel Fensham’s To Watch Theatre: Essays on Genre and
Corporeality, BBC New’s Dougal Shaw (Technology Reporter) in his article Digital
Drama: The Technology Transforming Theatre, Bertolt Brecht’s On the
Experimental Theatre, and Kathern Syssoyeva’s Collective Creation in
Contemporary Performance
C. Alex Webster
November 2019
Dr. Dorothy Chansky
Dramatic Criticism
This material is important to me on a personal level as an artist, an audience
member, a millennial, and a female student. As an artist, I want to tell stories
that I love and feel a strong obligation to tell. After my collaboration on #MeToo
Monlogues in the Spring of 2016, I realized that other people cared about the
same kinds of stories that I do, where strong women and their experiences are at
the forefront. I also recognized that to participate in this kind of work, I would
need to continue creating my own work. As a female in academia, I consistently
see both men and technology moving farther ahead with significantly less effort
and more grace than I could ever hope for. By planting myself in technology, a
field new enough to be flexible, I might be able to use all of the resources I
possibly can to forge ahead and create the work environment and expectations
that play to the highest intelligence of me and my female-identifying peers.
It's not essentialism, but we’re powerful because we’re equal to men and