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This thesis pivots around the staging of male identity as it appears in the
plays of Sam Shepard and David Mamet, with special focus on Shepard’s Curse of
the Starving Class and Buried Child and Mamet’s American Buffalo and Glengarry
Glen Ross. Exploring the thematic concern of staging male identity in Shepard and
Mamet’s selected plays means that we identify all of the technical
devices/theatrical strategies the two playwrights have used/exploited to convey
their issue to us.
To identify the term ‘staging,’ the researcher argues that the various
acts/performances of gender create the idea of gender, and without those
acts/performances, there would be no gender at all. Gender is a socio-cultural
construct. In other words, the male performs activities of daily life as if he were an
actor enacting a character on stage. Thus ‘staging’ in this context means the
‘performance or the enactment’ of the male identity. The notions of playing a role
in real life and playing a role in drama are easily associated. Theatrical
representation is generally recognized as being metaphorically relevant to the
human experience of self-presentation. Theatrically staged masculinity, then,
would seem to be a fruitful place that offers us a referent or reflection on how
masculinity is constructed and problematized within American society.
To precisely examine the relationships among the different characters in the
selected plays, the researcher tackled in each chapter one of Shepard’s plays with
another one of Mamet’s. The thesis is divided into three chapters and a conclusion.
They are as follows:
Chapter one is a theoretical background. It tackles the titular term “staging”
and its relation to the male identity. It also clarifies the relationship between gender and performance and the different forces that affect masculinity in the American
Chapter two, entitled as “The Staging of Male Search for Identity,” deals
with Shepard’s Curse of the Starving Class and Mamet’s American Buffalo. It
focuses on the staging of how the male characters in both plays are in continuous
search/quest for their male identity.
Chapter three, entitled as “The Staging of Male Struggle for Identity,” deals
with Shepard’s Buried Child and Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross. It investigates the
staging of how the male characters destroy and victimize each other in order to
create only one “top man” in control and authority.
These three chapters are followed by a conclusion in which the researcher’s
findings concerning the four plays in question are presented to the readers.