Theatre of the Ridiculous

A Critical History


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About the Book

Theatre of the Ridiculous is a significant movement that highlighted the radical possibilities inherent in camp. Much of contemporary theatre owes this form a great debt but little has been written about its history or aesthetic markers. This book offers a comprehensive overview of the important practitioners, along with critical commentary of their work.
Beginning with Ridiculous’ most recognizable name, Charles Ludlam, the author traces the development of this campy, queer genre, from the B movies of Maria Montez to the Pop Art scene of Andy Warhol to the founding of the Play-House of the Ridiculous and the dawn of Ludlam’s career and finally to the contemporary theatre scene.

About the Author(s)

Kelly I. Aliano is the manager of Education Special Projects at the New-York Historical Society. In addition to video game studies, she also works in the fields of queer performance and higher education pedagogy. She has taught at LaGuardia Community College, CUNY, and lives in Baldwin, New York

Bibliographic Details

Kelly I. Aliano
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 216
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7403-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3472-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v
Preface: Uncovering a Ridiculous Past 1
One. “A Ridiculous Triple Threat”: Charles Ludlam and the Making of a Ridiculous Aesthetic 13
Two. The “Godmother” of the Ridiculous: Maria Montez and the Ghosting of Ridiculous Theatre 46
Three. The “Daddy” of the Ridiculous: Jack Smith, Pop Art and ­Proto-Ridiculous Performance 57
Four. “Ridiculous Remix”: Playing at Power at the ­Play-House of the Ridiculous 80
Five. “Ridiculous Mashup”: Ethyl Eichelberger and the Performance of Gender 111
Six. The Ridiculous Aesthetic Across Generations: The Descendants of the Ridiculous 142
Seven. The Ridiculous Aesthetic Across Generations: The Inheritors of the Ridiculous 160
Conclusion: Radical Ridiculous Theatre? 174
Chapter Notes 181
Bibliography 195
Index 207

Book Reviews & Awards

Over the Rainbow Recommended Book List—Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) of the American Library Association (ALA)