1st Edition

Monsters in Performance Essays on the Aesthetics of Disqualification

Edited By Michael Chemers, Analola Santana Copyright 2022
    254 Pages 21 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    254 Pages 21 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Monsters in Performance boasts an impressive range of contemporary essays that delve into topical themes such as race, gender, and disability, to explore what constitutes monstrosity within the performing arts.

    These fascinating essays from leading and emerging scholars explore representation in performance, specifically concerning themselves with attempts at social disqualification of "undesirables." Throughout, the writers employ the concept of "monstrosity" to describe the cultural processes by which certain identities or bodies are configured to be threateningly deviant. The editors take a range of previously isolated critical inquiries – including bioethics, critical race studies, queer studies, and televisual studies - and merge them to create an accessible and dynamic platform which unifies these ranges of representations.

    The global scope and interdisciplinary nature of Monsters in Performance renders it an essential book for Theatre and Performance students of all levels as well as scholars; it will also be an enlightening text for those interested in monstrosity and Cultural Studies more broadly.

    Introduction: Monsters and Performance Culture: Five New Theses

    Michael M. Chemers and Analola Santana

    Mythic Deviance

    1. Bali’s Rangda and Barong in Cosmic Balancing

    Kathy Foley

    2. Exterminating the Phantom: Nativist Constructions of Contagion and Monsters in Nineteenth-Century New York City

    Mia Levenson

    3. Married to the Monster: Gender and Moral Ambiguity on the Gothic Stage

    Aoise Stratford

    4. The Xtáabay as Monstrous Woman: Gender in Maya Cultural Production in the Yucatán Peninsula

    Sarah Campbell

    Forbidden Eroticism

    5. Monstrous Arousals: La Rose, Un Faune, La Faune

    Penny Farfan

    6. Girl/Not Girl: The Hemispheric Monsters of Alexis Scheer’s Our Dear Dead Druglord

    Lisa Jackson-Schebetta

    7. Defending the Patriarchy: The Monstrous (Queer) Other and the Anti-Carnivalesque

    Catherine (Katya) Vrtis

    8. Monsters of Africa and the Loss of Identity

    Anita Gonzalez

    The Monstrous Body

    9. A Genealogy of the Fu Manchu Moustache

    Esther Kim Lee

    10. Uncanny Affect, Performing Prosthetics: Disability, Monstrosity, and the Puppet

    Laura Purcell-Gates

    11. Monstrosity in a Pandemic: Hypercapacity, Debility, and Death in Repo! The Genetic Opera

    Samuel Yates

    12. On the Afterlife of Teratological Specimens

    Margaret Werry

    Strange Families

    13. "She Ain’t Gonna Break": Theorizing the Life, Bare Life, and Living Dead Girls in The Devil’s Rejects.

    K. Scarlett Harrington and Bernadette Marie Calafell

    14. Nuclear Normativity, Monstrous Masculinity, and Matter in Burning Vision.

    Liz Fairchild

    15. Undocumented Zombies: US-Mexican Immigration, The Walking Dead, and the Effort/Shape of Monsters

    Jeff Kaplan


    Michael M. Chemers is Professor and Chair of the Department of Performance, Play & Design at the University of California Santa Cruz. He was the Founding Director of the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Production Dramaturgy Program at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama from 2007–2012. He is the author of more than 70 peer-reviewed pieces (including seven books) on theater history, theory, adaptation, and dramaturgy. Most relevant to this project, he is the author of Staging Stigma: A Critical Examination of the American Freak Show (Palgrave MacMillan, 2008), The Monster in Theatre History: This Thing of Darkness (Routledge, 2017), served as editor for a double issue of Disability Studies Quarterly on freak shows, and edited Alexander Iliev’s Towards a Theory of Mime (Routledge, 2014) and Luis Valdez’s Theatre of the Sphere: The Vibrant Being (Routledge, 2021). He is also the author of Ghost Light: An Introductory Handbook for Dramaturgy (Southern Illinois University Press, 2010) and has articles appear in Modern Drama, New England Theatre Journal, Comparative Drama, Theatre Topics, LMDA Review, and other publications. Recent book chapters include "The Mortification of Harvey Leach."

    Analola Santana is Associate Professor in the Department of Theater at Dartmouth College. She is the author of Teatro y Cultura de Masas: Encuentros y Debates (México: Editorial Escenología, 2010) and Freak Performances: Dissidence in Latin American Theatre (University of Michigan Press, 2018), which considers the significance of theatrical practices that use the "freak" as a medium to explore the continuing effects of colonialism on Latin American identity. She is also the co-editor of Theatre and Cartographies of Power: Repositioning the Latina/o Americas (Southern Illinois University Press, 2018) and Fifty Key Figures in Latinx and Latin American Theatre (Routledge, 2022). She has published articles in several journals, including GESTOS, Latin American Theatre Review, Letras Femeninas, Paso de gato, Chasquí, Theatre Topics, Theatre Journal and Cuadernos de literatura. She works as a professional dramaturg and is a company member of Mexico’s famed Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes.