How Does Community-Engaged Theatre Achieve its Political Goals?: The Interaction Between Theatrical Form and Message in Moisés Kaufman’s The Laramie Project




Anderson, Ryann

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Community-engaged theatre is an extremely broad label as a genre. Performances of this category can take on many forms, brought together as a cohesive genre by common elements. One such commonality is their tendency to situate a fictional performance within the context of a social reality. Allusions to social realities or even to explicit historical events make up what theatre theorist Baz Kershaw calls a performance’s rhetorical conventions. In his 1992 book, The Politics of Performance: Radical Theatre as Cultural Intervention, Kershaw differentiates between rhetorical and authenticating conventions as a way to determine a play’s political efficacy. Indeed, the aesthetics of a performance are often integral to its message. Examining the interaction (or lack thereof) between these two distinct conventions is an excellent starting point in understanding the ways in which a performance means to be political. One such text to embody a distinguishable interaction between rhetorical and authenticating conventions is Moisés Kaufman’s 2000 play, The Laramie Project. It is, then, the form of the performance which supports the authenticating conventions within it and help the play achieve its goal of strengthening both the LGBTQ community and the Laramie community.



Theatre, applied-theatre, community-engaged theatre, The Laramie Project, LGBTQ, form