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Theatre History Podcast # 9

Theatre of Cruelty on Michigan Avenue: Dr. Susanne Shawyer on Street Theatre and 1968



The images of the chaos at the Democratic National Convention of 1968 have become iconic representations of the turmoil of the 1960s in our nation’s collective memory. However, not many people think of those turbulent events in terms of theatre. In this episode, Dr. Susanne Shawyer of Elon University discusses her research (a version of which will appear next year in the book Performance in a Militarized Culture) and looks at the “Battle of Michigan Avenue” through the lens of Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty, showing how the protests staged by groups such as the Yippies were meant to create an impromptu performance that would lead to social change.

Cover of alternative publication Berkeley Barb's 1968 report on the events in Chicago. Via the University of Virginia.


vietnam war protest
Beginning of the protest in which the Yippies attempted to levitate the Pentagon, 1967. Via LBJ Library.


vintage family photo
President Lyndon Baines Johnson and his family watch the news from Chicago, 1968. Via LBJ Library.


vintage poster
Yippie poster, 1960s. Via the University of Virginia.

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Thoughts from the curator

This podcast aims to introduce listeners to the artists, scholars, and archivists who are working to bring the history of performance to life. We hope that, by listening to this show, you’ll learn about exciting new performances, fascinating books, and valuable repositories of knowledge, all of which will help you better understand theatre’s history.

Theatre History Podcast


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