Do my eyes deceive me?: “Acts of Sight” in Naomi Iizuka's Polaroid Stories, Concerning Strange Devices From the Distant West, War of the Worlds, and Good Kids
[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Do My Eyes Deceive Me?: Acts of Sight in Naomi Iizuka's Polaroid Stories, Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West, War of the Worlds, and Good Kids explores the postdramatic and open aesthetic of contemporary playwright, Naomi Iizuka. Through critical and close reading, I identify and analyze Naomi Iizuka's repeated staging of "acts of sight" as a dramaturgical device in four of her plays and examine these stagings within the context of Iizuka's broader interest in writing plays that dismantle essentialist concepts of identity and authenticity. I define “acts of sight” as moments in Iizuka's narratives that call attention to the process of witness in her dramatic texts—through the reference and use of visual media, direct discussion or theatricalization of sight as a physiological and cultural experience, or a number of discursive and linguistic strategies that focus on the editorializing nature of vision, observation, and sight. The plays explored in this study utilize “acts of sight” which explicitly and visually demonstrate a postmodern theoretical perspective that rejects concepts of being (where entities are defined by their static categorizations) and argue instead for concepts of becoming (where material bodies are in a constant state of flux and movement). Through the stagings of these “acts of sight,” Naomi Iizuka invites audiences to deconstruct commonly accepted concepts of identity, which are rooted in essentialist philosophies, as her formal techniques challenge assumptions of identity as a fixed, binary, or concrete element of one's life. I argue that this particular dramaturgical device makes each of these plays worthy of consideration as embodied theoretical perspectives and texts that demonstrate Iizuka's significance as an architect of anti-essentialist theory and artistry.
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