Author

Gary Brown

Date of Award

12-1999

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Theatre/Dance

Advisor

Thomas Mikotowicz

Second Committee Member

Richard Brucher

Third Committee Member

Steven Carignan

Abstract

Increased number of incidents of school related violence have turned attention toward exploring the culture of young adults within American society. Today’s incidents, some almost unheard of ten to fifteen years ago, are escalating exponentially in aggression and violence. Research on youth culture has not offered thus far a clear theory for why or how this situation has evolved in what it is now. American culture has, however, riddled itself with television rating systems, increased security at movie theaters, school metal detectors, and countless slogans and television advertisements warning Americans that their youth is in trouble - all of which are designed to curb the rise of violence.

The importance of producing a play like Eric Bogosian’s SubUrbia is self- evident. Bogosian’s characters embody the personality traits of real life adolescents who have been shown to have a higher rate of performing violent acts against others. Producing SubUrbia places into the spotlight the lives of these characters, affording this culture the opportunity to study and examine why such characters behave the way they do.

This thesis explores one such possible explanation for the rise in violence among the youth culture. Many expert sociologists on youth development - such as Jonathon Epstein, Steven Best, and Douglas Kellner - explain that as an individual approaches adulthood without the sense of self, or identity, that individual will be more likely to become aggressive to the word around him or her. Directing SubUrbia allows the opportunity to explore nine characters who are constantly trying to discover themselves, some of whom will fail while others will succeed. The thesis will first explain the youth problem at hand, emphasizing the severity of this problem, and will then offer insight into the possible reasons for why and how an individual may not form a sense of understanding of themselves, and how this results in adequate socialization with the world around them. Finally, this thesis will transpose relevant research and reference it to Bogosian’s play, SubUrbia, paying close attention to a select few important characters who have drastically different outcomes, and how well the Maine Masque’s production of SubUrbia relayed those ideas to the audience.

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