Embodied Performance As Queer Theatre Historiography: Translation, Gender, Identity, and Temporalities in Mikhail Kuzmin's The Dangerous Precaution
Date of Degree Completion
Master of Arts (MA)
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
The “World of Art” and “The Tower,” two groups of symbolist artists in St. Petersburg at the turn of the 20th century, are often noted for their contributions to queer art in poetry, literature, and the visual arts. However, the theatrical record has yet to acknowledge the significant contributions by these groups, largely ignoring their queer dramatic writings. Mikhail Kuzmin, a notable contributor in both groups of symbolists, is recognized for having contributed music to Meyerhold and Blok’s The Puppet Show but is less known for his multitude of plays. Seeking to remedy this problem, I examine one of the earliest dramatic texts by Kuzmin, The Dangerous Precaution. Acknowledging prior censorship, lack of performance, and limited archival materials, I utilized an embodied methodology of translation and rehearsal to create an archival performance encouraging memory retrieval of an event that never occurred. Drawing on queer temporalities, I situate this performance as a form of creative time travel that utilizes a historical text, performed in the present, to envision a hopeful future. Despite the original performance never existing within history, this project examines previously known information about Kuzmin and his earliest dramatic works while simultaneously creating valuable discourse in the present, a form of queer intergenerational storytelling. In the past, Kuzmin provided the queer community of St. Petersburg a helpful vocabulary for existing and coming out. His writing, placed on contemporary bodies, created new meanings that brought to light the complex understanding Kuzmin had of gender constructions and sexual identity. The Dangerous Precaution, previously considered a straightforward gender disguise narrative resulting in two gay men acknowledging their love, now also tells the story of a transgender woman recognizing herself in what she thought was a created identity. Building upon Kuzmin’s complex understanding, our performance explored queer feelings and disidentification to create a queer utopia.
Shionalyn, Keenan, "Embodied Performance As Queer Theatre Historiography: Translation, Gender, Identity, and Temporalities in Mikhail Kuzmin's The Dangerous Precaution" (2021). All Master's Theses. 1501.
Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory Commons, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies Commons, Performance Studies Commons, Russian Literature Commons, Theatre History Commons