Girls, Performance, and Activism offers artists, activists, educators, and scholars a comprehensive analysis, celebration, and critique of the ways in which teenage girls create and perform activist theater.
Girls, particularly Black and Latinx teenagers, are using the tools of performance to share their stories, devise new ones, and use the stage to advocate for social change. Interweaving interviews, poetic text, drama, and theory, this book provides readers with a comprehensive understanding of how and why this field erupted and the ways in which girls are using performance to transform themselves and enact change in their communities. As a white woman who has collaboratively created theater with hundreds of girls of color over the past 20 years, Dana Edell offers strategies for engaging with girls across difference through an intersectional lens in order to acknowledge the ways in which race, gender, age, class, ability, and sexuality influence girls’ experiences and relationships with adult collaborators as they work to create meaningful, impactful, and often personal activist performances.
This is the go-to handbook for teachers, theater directors, and performance makers who want to create politically engaged work with teenage girls.
Table of Contents
1 "Under Construction": Girls, Performance, and Activism 2 "This is Not a Safe Space": Principles of Theatermaking with Girls 3 "Real Im(PERFECT)ions": Performing Confidence, Expressing Agency 4 "Held Momentarily": For an Audience of One… Plus 5 "Shut Up and Listen!": Performance in Public Spaces 6 "Finally Someone Hears Us": Considering Our Audiences
Dana Edell is an assistant professor of Applied Theatre at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts.
"The book is a pleasure to read, exuding the energy and panache of teenage girls. It does not skimp on theory but is clear in its exposition. Writing at the intersection of performance, activism, and girls’ studies, Edell balances an overview with firsthand experience. She expresses a love for the subject while being critical. She lets the reader in on her own questions and struggles, and the girls’ successes and challenges. Assessing the work’s impact on the girls themselves, their friends and family, and the 'world' beyond gets the reader thinking about what performance can and cannot do."
—Jan Cohen-Cruz, writer and teacher, socially engaged performance
"In Girls, Performance, and Activism, girls are a force to be reckoned with. All the world’s a stage for their urgent messages, whether they’re performing at a United Nations meeting, in a neighborhood park, at a protest rally, a school cafeteria, or in a TikTok video. Freely voiced and fully embodied, activism is their first language. Dana Edell offers us all a masterclass in girl-driven theater as a praxis of liberation and a vehicle for social change. She confronts the complexities of partnering with girls across difference and incites us all to bear critical witness to girls’ imagination, rage, creativity, and joy."
—Lyn Mikel Brown, Professor of Education, Colby College; author of Powered by Girl: A Field Guide for Supporting Youth Activists