Princeton University Library Catalog

Staging Outrage: An Ethnographic Exploration of New York City’s Theatre of the Unhoused

Aronson, Anna [Browse]
Senior thesis
Fernandez-kelly, Patricia [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Sociology [Browse]
Class year:
90 pages
Summary note:
This paper investigates the methods, goals, and impacts of Theatre of the Oppressed NYC, an organization that produces interactive, devised plays with troupes of unhoused actors. I observe three of these plays and informally interview fifteen of the actors afterwards, conduct in-depth interviews with five staff members, one of whom was formerly homeless, and participate in a three-day training workshop led by the theatre. I report my findings in a narrative, ethnographic style and illuminate their sociological significance by incorporating relevant theorists throughout. Ultimately, I find that TOONYC affords both its workshop participants and homeless actors logistical and presentational skills, unexpected social networks, the ability to reimagine identity and circumstance, and the capacity to confront their oppressors. I also compare TOONYC’s goals to its achievements and argue that despite the organization’s big-picture aim of effecting legislative change, it makes the most visible impact—politically, socially, and emotionally—on the individual level.