The Theatre and its Identity Crisis Essay

The Theatre and its Identity Crisis Essay

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My trust in the definitiveness of reality is swiftly disintegrating beneath me. The deeper I dive into the abyss of theory, the more I realize that nothing I have learned is safe from change; that facts may actually be temporary and that everything is a prisoner of our construction of time. In admitting this, I worry that these hypotheses are the beginning of a tiny delusion that will begin to gradually eat away at the rest of my sanity. That scares me a bit, yes, but even as I sit here writing, I love this newfound instability because it’s ironically made me feel more grounded than I’ve ever felt. Armed with these ideas, I have looked back at the world I’ve grown up with and finally begun to see society’s seams tugged apart, its splintered frame exposed, and the fear and worry of its people uncovered. But I have also exposed, buried deep within its guarded chest, the hope and innovation and change that inspires humanity’s pervasive drive towards progress. It’s within this fragmented existence that I feel that I have a place within this generation’s script. However, it’s now a matter of figuring out which role is mine.
The cynic inside me can’t help but look at the cast list and feel an irrepressible sense of sadness; with such a long list of characters to choose from, why do we prescribe such commonplace roles to ourselves? I believe that it all starts with gender. Judith Butler reasons in her inspirational essay “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory” that gender is a performance. She observes that sex (the biological facts defining male and female) is not what actually makes a man and man and a woman a woman, but rather that one’s gender identity is determined through a styliz...


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...easy for the less informed to drown in if one detail is highlighted with greater weight. It’s been a constant power struggle between these two genders whose desperate goal is to find some sort of order amidst chaos. It’s simply easier to have a leader, but the ways in which we’ve selected these privileged few I find disquieting. Though I do not believe that gender is one hundred percent learnt, as Butler believes, I do think that societal impositions play too strong a role in creating identities. This is especially true in the theatre, and I know that many of my female classmates will agree with this. Women are capable of acting in masculine manners just as the converse is true for men. But if this idea is to ever branch out into the real world, whatever that may mean, the theatre is a perfect place for its journey to begin- and I believe that has every right to.

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