Upstaging Big Daddy

Directing Theater as if Gender and Race Matter
Ellen Donkin and Susan Clement, Editors
Challenges established notions of the director's craft and disrupts conventional interpretations of "the canon"


The essays in Upstaging Big Daddy: Directing Theater as if Gender and Race Matter argue that directing, as it has been taught and handed down over the years, has worked in the service of a body of dramatic literature that has routinely minimized or distorted the lives of women, people of color, gay men, and lesbians. The book’s contributors see directing not as an ideologically neutral set of skills, but as something that has served historically to preserve existing forms of authority.
What happens, then, when a feminist who directs for the theater decides that there is something called a feminist director, someone who sees her job as protesting and intervening in the existing system of representation? The contributors to this volume provide a wide range of answers, in original essays that disrupt traditional approaches of directing by showing how feminist theory might be applied in practice.
Essays and interviews by a wide variety of directors, scholars, and other theater specialists offer fresh new models for thinking about directing. The collection includes essays on African-American theater, feminist “classics,” and male directors working on feminist plays, as well as concrete suggestions for directing a variety of plays, from works by Shakespeare and Euripides to those by Caryl Churchill, Aishah Rahman, and Helene Cixous. The theoretical material, drawing from a wide range of contemporary critics and theorists, has been written with the director in mind, partly for the purpose of analyzing texts but also for inspiring creative directorial and design solutions.

Praise / Awards

  • "Ellen Donkin and Susan Clement have provided feminist theatre and its artists and scholars with a timely and essential resource. . . . This rich collection of voices from the feminist theatre is a practical guide to a reexamination of our assumptions about the ways in which meaning is constructed in theatre."
    NWSA Journal
  • "For directors this is a fount of ideas and examples of how a variety of feminist-inflected theories can be tested and offered to the public."
  • ". . . contains incisive essays on a huge set of dicey topics."
  • ". . . a valuable glimpse at some of the ways feminist theory can shape script selection, text interpretation, casting and staging choices, and rehearsal techniques. . . . In these increasingly conservative times, Upstaging Big Daddy provides important testimonials from those struggling to stage feminist visions. Its insistent optimism is infectious--for many directors, the book will be a survival guide."
    Theatre Journal
  • ". . . the first collection devoted exclusively to the creative process and concerns of feminist directors. It provides a valuable point of departure for directors, scholars, theorists, and students considering the role that scripts and creative processes play—or could play—in promoting awareness of gender and race issues."
    Theatre Survey

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 344pp.
  • 16 B&W photographs in text.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1993
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06503-5

Add to Cart
  • $29.95 U.S.