What does it mean to be a theater director with identities and social positions that do not align with those of 19th century, Western European directors? Inspired by the incredible lack of qualitative information on most female directors and directors of color, the scholarly component of this Honors project consists of an analysis of the directing processes of Elizabeth LeCompte and Whitney White, in particular LeCompte’s Hamlet and White’s An Iliad.
For that, I draw from documentation on LeCompte’s and White’s filmed materials of their work, hours of recorded interviews about their processes, and articles about their productions. Both directors have a history of creating productions that defy typical expectations of how an artist should stage “classic” texts: they take old, well-known Western scripts by white male playwrights to devise performances that include experimental text and performance styles. As an early-career theatre director, I am deeply interested in these directors’ aesthetic visions and methods of directing adaptations. They were influential to the creative component of my directing honors project, a production of Tori Keenan-Zelt’s Seph in the spring of 2022. In Seph, Tori Keenan-Zelt reimagines the Greek myth Persephone as she reconstructs the characters and dynamics familiar to the original Greek mythology introduced by Hesiod and Homer. In this essay I identify artistic patterns in LeCompte’s and White’s productions that informed my own artistic style in directing Seph.
Yates, Jessica, "Challenging Oppressive Expectations in American Theatre from Within: a Comparative Analysis of Whitney White and Elizabeth LeCompte" (2022). Theatre and Dance Honors Projects. 4.
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