Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
In theatre scholarship, the event of the on-stage accident is a fairly neglected area of research. Aside from brief archival detailing of some of the more tragic events, scholars have not approached the accidents from a theoretical or historiographical position. Many, I surmise, find little of interest in an on-stage accident due to its lack of aesthetic purpose or intentionality. In this project, I focus on those neglected accidents and, more specifically, accidents that take place due to a violent failure of theatrical convention. I discuss three specific moments where a theatre convention – established to concretize the world of the play for the audience – turns violent before a live audience. I detail the apparatus of the convention and how it worked, as well as how it violently failed. Additionally, I discuss the cultural and material make-up of the event. My study begins with the recent on stage death of KÀ performer Sarah Guillot-Guyard in Las Vegas and a review of the terminology and scholarship pertinent to this study. I then focus on three discrete events/theatre conventions: nineteenth century gas light and the fatal accidents caused by its use, the recent Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark and accidental injuries caused by prop weapons used during stage combat. What separates these conventions from an average theatre accident is their reliance on a technology in establishing the illusion of violence or danger. In my analysis I examine the phenomenology at play when a violent convention actually causes injury to the performer in front of an audience.
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Reynolds, Jeremy Matthew, "Violent Conventions: An Analysis of the Unintended Aesthetics of On-Stage Accidents" (2016). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 1648.