American national identity, the “other,” and the Little Theatre Movement.
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Denman, Merritt, 1991-
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The Little Theatre Movement began in the early twentieth century as an effort to create theatre which was inventive, well-made, and uniquely American at a time when American theatre had yet to be established. While the movement was beneficial to the trajectory of American theatre, its attempt at forging national identity led little theatre practitioners to define themselves using exclusivist ideology. They came to define Americans as an “in” group of upper-middle class white people versus an “out” group composed of everyone else. Using original research this project will explore the rhetoric and practices of the Little Theatre Movement with relation to “outsiders” by examining two genres which were popular in little theatres across America: Orientalist and Folk plays. This analysis will demonstrate that the movement, while beneficial in establishing the American Theatre, was guilty of reinforcing exclusivist notions in the process.