Queering the canon : devising as a "queered" method of theatre making
The purpose of this queer qualitative MFA thesis is to increase visibility of LGBTQ+ youth and queer representation within popular canonical materials through the creation of a devised theatre performance with undergraduate university students. Our performance, Queering the Canon, explores what happens when “the canon” is inverted to intentionally include queer people in narratives they have previously been excluded from. My case study research asks: How can a devised theatre performance for high school students use aesthetic attributes to queer the canon and make social change? To answer this question, my acting ensemble devised an original piece of theatre which we performed for colleagues and two different high school audiences. Each interactive theatre performance concluded with opportunities for the youth participants to co-construct their own ideas on “queerness” and “the canon” as a valued part of the research process. Afterwards, I coded and analyzed key project artifacts including fieldwork notes, rehearsal products, the final script, reflective products, and ensemble interviews to consider how our devised theatre performance of Queering the Canon served as a site for change. Specifically, I use the Animating Democracy/Americans for the Arts’ Aesthetic Perspectives: Attributes of Excellence in Arts for Change framework, to make sense of how a “queered” devising process can be a site of disruption, risk-taking, cultural integrity, and communal meaning, that produces feelings of commitment through an emotional experience for those who participate.