Behind the “Razzle Dazzle”: Folk Art, Dwelling, and the Broadway Cast of Chicago




Spitulnik, Jennifer

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Officially, theatrical dressing rooms are provided as the place for the ontological shift from person to character to occur; actors often speak of “getting into character.” I have found, however, that the transition is less about the onstage role, and more of a shift from person to performer. My thesis considers the aesthetics and sense of place in an occupational folk group by exploring how the actors in the New York cast of Chicago the Musical bring a sense of self and of dwelling into a space that they only occupy impermanently. The use and decoration of the theater, the dressing rooms, and the stations, along with the actors’ stories, indicate how traditional practices allow members of this group to claim space. These same traditions reveal what the actors actually “hold near and dear to their heart,” that is, those values and relationships they wish to make special.



Folklore, Material culture, Performance, Theater, Sense of place, Dwelling