Recognition and Reversal in the Plays of Lauren Gunderson

A dialogue

originally published by the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism Spring 2022

In this introduction to a dialogue with Lauren Gunderson, the author argues that the disparity between critical responses and audience responses to some of Gunderson’s plays can be understood as the product of a devaluation of her use of surprise to evoke an emotional reaction from audiences. Despite the longstanding tradition of using surprise to evoke emotion in the theatre, some cultural gatekeepers have responded negatively to its use in service of stories about women. As a result, Gunderson’s plays sometimes succeed more with audiences than with critics. The dialogue covers feminism, empathy, and Aristotle.

Read more here. PDF available upon request.


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