UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Repetition with revision : Suzan-Lori Parks' 365 days/365 plays and the new theatre festival Leadley, Allison


In November of 2002, Pulitzer-prize winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks began her largest writing project to date: writing a play a day for a full year. Four years later, with the assistance of producer Bonnie Metzgar, Parks’ plays were divided into individual weeklong cycles and distributed between nearly eight hundred theatre artists and companies across North America. The international panoptic premiere of Parks’ 365 Days/365 Plays was the largest theatrical premiere to date and nearly two years after the cycle has come to a close, its expansive temporal and geographical scope remains unparalleled. Like many of her other works, Parks’ 365 creates opportunity for discourse and with the cycle’s completion, theatre scholars have written extensive literary and dramaturgical analyses of the project. Still, scholars continue to contest exactly what constitutes Parks’ unique project and identify its implications for American stages. In reviewing the relevant literature surrounding the project, the term “festival” is continually applied to 365 by both artists (including the playwright) and scholars alike. In working to define 365 however, these respective scholars and practitioners have evoked a complex theatrical framework with its own criteria and inferences. Largely missing from their respective analysis of the project however is a detailed performative and theoretical evaluation of the festival itself. Thus, lingering questions regarding this specific performative framework and whether Parks’ project can and does indeed function within its parameters remain. Are scholars correct in their assumption of 365 as a festival? What are the respective limitations in evoking this term (if any) to describe Parks’ project? Through a detailed literary analysis of the scholarship surrounding Parks’ project I aim to interrogate both the performative and theoretical significance of this term as it is applied to 365 Days/365 Plays to determine not only whether we can rightly refer to Parks’ project as such, but to also recognize the efficacy of the term as scholars move forward in their analysis of the cycle.

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