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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Broomsticks and barricades : performance, empowerment, and feeling in Wicked and Les Misérables Blair, Kelsey Leanne


The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between empowerment, feeling, and performance by analyzing the act 1 finales from two Broadway musicals: “Defying Gravity” from the 2003 production of Wicked and “One Day More” from the 1987 production of Les Misérables. A genre of performance in which feelings, of empowerment and otherwise, are generated and circulated in amplified ways, the Broadway musical provides a productive site to investigate the relationship between empowerment and feeling; moreover, both “Defying Gravity” and “One Day More” are signature numbers frequently associated with empowerment. To complete my analyses, I use an interdisciplinary approach which combines theatre and performance studies, affect theory, and social science-based arguments about empowerment in order to demonstrate how affect theory gives us valuable language to analyze the constellation of artistic elements which contribute to the numbers’ affective power. Building from this work, I suggest that both numbers perform empowerment by emphasizing power and change, two characteristics which have been highlighted as essential in empowerment scholarship. Ultimately, I argue that sensations of empowerment become the primary point of connection between stage and auditorium through performance.

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Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada