Tag Archives: Jill Dolan

Good reads: Jill Dolan

Looking for a good read? PAW asked some professors for their recommendations.

Jill Dolan (David Dobkin)

Jill Dolan

Director of the Program in the Study of Women and Gender
Professor of English and Theater
Since I teach theater and performance studies, my favorite books tend to be plays, rather than novels or nonfiction.  One of my favorites is Tony Kushner’s Angels in America (both parts).  The plays always excite my students, because they use theatricality in imaginative ways to address a wide swath of issues relevant to our common situation.  Kushner manages to launch an intellectual conversation about democracy and faith through the apparatus of theater, while telling a story full of heart and soul about the human condition.  I’m always moved by his (characters’) declarations of faith, not in a religion, per se, but in the potential of human connection across our many differences.
At the risk of sounding entirely self-serving, I’m going to recommend my own book, Utopia in Performance: Finding Hope at the Theatre. The book’s premise is that we go to live theater as a way to connect with one another in profound ways, ways which, in the moment of being together as strangers, allows us to experience, just for a moment, what utopia might feel like.  The book describes performances at which I felt this, and engages with issues about performance and theater from the perspective of hope and fellow feeling.  I write only about performances that moved me in this book.  It’s a critical project, but it’s not about “criticizing,” per se, and offers an alternative model of engagement for spectators and for artists (for anyone, really, who cares about and loves going to the theater).

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