Date Thesis Awarded

4-2019

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

History

Advisor

Jerry Watkins

Committee Members

Leisa Meyer

Laurie Wolf

Abstract

Throughout the 1980s, gay theatre changed profoundly as this relatively new genre morphed to grapple with the continuing destruction wrought by the AIDS Crisis and its subsequent gentrification. First generation AIDS plays memorialize deceased AIDS victims and provide education or exposure to the grief and gravity of AIDS. Second generation AIDS plays shifted focus to provide accessible avenues into AIDS activism intended to remedy communal heartache. The most recognizable iterations of both subgenres – As Is (1985) and Angels in America (1991), for instance – portray the epidemic from a discernably northern perspective. Before white gay men assumed center stage, Rebecca Ranson (a southern lesbian playwright) lamented her departed friend by composing a groundbreaking theatrical production: Warren (1984). This thesis closely examines two Ranson works, Warren (1984) and Higher Ground: Voices of AIDS (1988), to chart the distinctly southern arc from first generation individual mourning to second generation communal grief and activism.

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