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Through the intersection of gender, class, and career: a look at the life and legacy of Lucille Lortel

Mullen, Leann (2020) Through the intersection of gender, class, and career: a look at the life and legacy of Lucille Lortel. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This thesis on the career of Lucille Lortel examines how she was a self-funded, female, Off-Broadway producer who favored political shows and how she navigated obstacles to further her work and establish a legacy. Lortel’s work as a producer helped establish Off-Broadway, introduced many playwrights to the American stage, and provided opportunities for theatre artists. However, her career has not been the focus of much theatre scholarship. Developed through archival research of Lortel’s collection in the New York Public Library, this thesis analyzes how Lortel’s time as an actress shaped her producing career, her navigation of the press’s sexist characterization of her work, and her unique status as a self-funded producer. As a financially independent producer, Lortel supported political shows and artists who were creating under oppressive circumstances. By using the methods silence, ambiguity, and redirection, Lortel avoided discussing political aspects of the theatre she supported, which is examined in a case study of Lee Blessing’s A Walk in the Woods. Lortel established her legacy through methods that supported others in the theatre community, preserved and shared information, and used traditional forms of honors and awards. Some of these efforts included funding new drama at Yale University, working with the Theatre on Film and Tape archive of the New York Public Library, and naming her Off-Broadway theatre after herself. This thesis argues Lortel’s awareness and agency within the decisions she made that shaped her career and deeply impacted American theatre.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGranshaw,
Committee MemberBrater,
Committee MemberGeorge,
Committee MemberMcKelvey,
Date: 4 May 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 30 March 2020
Approval Date: 4 May 2020
Submission Date: 14 April 2020
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 145
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Theater Arts
David C. Frederick Honors College
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Twentieth Century, Off-Broadway, producer, Women in Theatre, Lucille Lortel Theatre, White Barn Theatre, political theatre,
Date Deposited: 04 May 2020 13:37
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 13:41


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