Publication Date

April 2015

Advisor(s)

Claudia Tatinge Nascimento

Major

Theater

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

Gertrude Stein became a literary celebrity following the unexpected success of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas in 1933. Her work after this time reflects a preoccupation with the effects of celebrity on the self that she exemplifies in texts such as Ida, A Novel. As an actor tasked with bringing Stein’s Ida to the stage, my goal in performance was to embody the writer’s specific style and illuminate how her continuous present and view of the self permeate the novel. In this essay, I provide an understanding of Stein’s theoretical concerns and writing process, an analysis of Ida in light of this framework, and a contextualization of Stein’s writing within contemporary performance theory—namely, Erika Fischer-Lichte’s aesthetics of the performative. By combining an analysis of Stein’s work with Fischer-Lichte’s research and my own experience performing Ida, I examine how an actor can transform Stein’s writing techniques into performance strategies. My investigation is by no means a complete study of the actor’s work in the context of Stein’s writing, but it offers a set of tools that can be expanded upon in the future to create performances that emphasize personal memory, play, presence, and above all, process.

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