Performing nation, performing trauma: theatre and performance after September 11th, Hurricane Katrina and the Peruvian dirty war
Traumas are moments which disrupt a way of being, often involving death or injury and a period of recovery for its survivors. They can be personal, experienced by an individual, or collective, experienced by a group of individuals, such as a family. Others, like the bombing of Hiroshima, impact much larger communities, such as an entire town, an entire nation, or even the world. These national traumas often include large-scale death or injury and impact the lives of thousands. In addition to their immediate physical and material affects (mortalities, economic impact, creating a need for aid), these events shatter not only an individual's sense of well- being, but also larger notions of national identity, stability and security. In many cases, they also reveal the limits of prevailing concepts of national cohesiveness, citizenship and belonging while often simultaneously upholding or reconstructing newly problematic concepts of national cohesion. Traumas are documented and grappled with through various media, including literature, poetry, art, photography, and journalism. This dissertation, "Performing Nation, Performing Trauma: Theatre and Performance after September 11th, Hurricane Katrina and the Peruvian Dirty War" examines how theatre and performance are utilized to respond to, document, memorialize and represent national traumas resulting from such historical crises as the Peruvian Dirty Wars, Hurricane Katrina, and September 11th, as well as how they resist dominant narratives that construct national traumas as such. These traumas are relived and expressed through performance perhaps precisely because the members of a nation (consciously or subconsciously) recognize that nation is also performed. This dissertation focuses on both the content of and the reception of these performances and the particular implications that performances about national traumas hold for theatre critics/scholars, performance practitioners and audience members (those immediately connected and not so obviously connected to the event).