Underground Theater

Theorizing Mobility through Modern Subway Dramas

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Author:
Sunny Stalter-Pace

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This article begins from the premise that modern American drama provides a useful and understudied archive of representations of mobility. It focuses on plays set on the New York City subway, using the performance studies concept of “restored behavior” to understand the way that these plays repeat and heighten the experience of subway riding. Through their repetitions, they make visible the psychological consequences of ridership under the historical and cultural constraints of the interwar period. Elmer Rice's 1929 play The Subway is read as a particularly rich exploration of the consequences of female passenger's presumed passivity and sexualization in this era. The Subway and plays like it enable scholars of mobility to better understand the ways that theatrical texts intervene in cultural conversations about urban transportation.

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Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies

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