Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
My dissertation interrogates how the movement of artists between Havana, New York, and Miami shaped experimental theatre aesthetics, formed a shared discourse of theatrical thought, and introduced a particular vein of experimental practices into U.S. American avant-garde theatre, especially as it intersects with U.S. Latina/o theatre and LGBTQ theatre. I interrogate the theatre history of these three cities as horizontal and contiguous, challenging historical narratives of U.S. American neocolonial dominance and superiority, as well as narratives of diaspora that position Havana as an authentic origin. The central contribution of my dissertation is to synthesize the archival evidence that documents connections between the theatre scenes of these three cities, while repositioning well-known artists like Obie Award-winning author and director, María Irene Fornés and Pulitzer Prize-winning author and director Nilo Cruz within the avant-garde traditions touching Greater Cuba (Cuba and its diasporas). By doing so, this study addresses the absence of scholarship in English-language U.S. American Theatre Studies that discusses Latin American and U.S. Latina/o theatre as cutting-edge and artistically innovative vis-à-vis global and Western theatre movements. Each chapter in my dissertation follows a distinct aesthetic movement or theatrical phenomenon, arguing that each approach experimented with feeling "Cuban" in a unique way. Artists thrust Cuban being upon a stage where it was affectively transferred across difference to also become something beyond the reaches of the island and the diaspora. Avant-garde theatre gave these artists a potent set of tools to deterritorialize the stories, tropes, motifs, symbols, aesthetics, and performance practices associated with an extremely nationalistic theatrical tradition. Through avant-garde theatre, these theatre artists moved experiences particular to Greater Cuba into the realm of the "universal" human experience. Cuban avant-garde practice Cubanizes the "universal" through its ways of reinterpreting modernisms and universalizes the Cuban by moving its perspective—its way of looking at the world—to the center. The act of positioning a Havana-Cuban, Miami-Cuban, or New York-Cuban expression as the voice of the "universal” human experience is a political act to assert citizenship in and belonging to the Western (U.S. American and European) dominated discourse of the humanities.
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Mayer-Garcia, Eric, "Cuban Routes of Avant-Garde Theatre: Havana, New York, Miami, 1965-1991." (2016). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 36.