Learning from the Dramaturg: Suzan-Lori Parks's The America Play in the Literature Classroom

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This essay offers the strategy of "dramaturgical arousal" as a pedagogical model for engaging with drama in the literature classroom. Using Mark Bly's ground-breaking dramaturgical work on Suzan-Lori Parks's The America Play, including the theatre program he produced for its Yale Repertory premiere, as well as the play's cocollaborative mobilization of text and performance, "Learning from the Dramaturg" offers a new way of rethinking the often fraught divide between text and theatre. Just as Parks's jazz poetics performatively riff on the historical record, so too does Bly's work co-performatively riff on the play, producing collaborative engagements that are more generative than evaluative. Fostering greater critical awareness of the ways in which the differing codes of textuality and performance produce their audiences, these collaborations model fresh encounters that fruitfully blur the distinctions between drama/literature and performance/theatre.

Original Citation

Bean, H.R. (2015). Learning from the Dramaturg: Suzan-Lori Parks’s The America Play in the Literature Classroom. Modern Drama 58(3), 324-346. https://doi.org/10.3138/md.2931