Bretton White

Position title: Dana-Allen Dissertation Fellow (2010-2011)

Spanish and Portuguese, UW-Madison

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Instigating Intimacies: Staging Dangerous Bodies in Contemporary Cuban Theatre and Performance

This dissertation examines how queer bodies—ones that historically have been marginalized by the Cuban state—are theatrically represented on the Cuban stage in order to resist their marginalized status through a reevaluation of categorization as a revolutionary tool, and by positing identities that are more fluid and less fixed. Additionally, this project suggests that new affective modes are produced when performing bodies highlight—often in uncomfortably intimate, grotesque or raw ways—the spectators’ bodies and their capacity for queerness. The bodies on stage and in the audience are critical for furthering the understanding of contemporary Cuban identity because of the persistent tension between the body as problem and as solution since the economic crisis known as the Special Period, which began in 1990. Specifically, this dissertation articulates how the formation of intimacies, the forthright presentation of shame, the paradoxical productivity of the death drive, and the act of purposeful cruising shape Cuban subjectivities that evolve out of dialogues about queerness, but whose focus on inclusiveness necessarily involves all Cubans.

Bretton White is a dissertator in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Her research interests include Caribbean theatre and performance, queer theory, and how affective, spatial and bodily relationships can be rearticulated. She has published an article about Cuban theatre in the Latin American Theatre Review on how the possibilities of limitless intimacies push audience members to reconsider how their own bodies work with and against the state’s agenda. She is currently working on an article about how Cuban performance artist Tania Bruguera manipulates dignity (and its loss). Additionally, she is organizing an after-school theatre workshop in a local bilingual school.