Acts of Intervention

Acts of Intervention

Performance, Gay Culture, and AIDS
David Roman
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 02/22/1998
Format: Paperback 40 b&w photos, 2 figures
ISBN: 978-0-253-21168-2
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Association for Theatre in Higher Education, Outstanding Book 1999

Acts of Intervention examines the ways that gay men have used theatre and performance to intervene in the AIDS crisis. It discusses dramatic texts and public performances—from cabarets and candlelight vigils to full-scale Broadway productions such as Angels in America and Rent—that have shaped, and been shaped by, the history of AIDS in national, regional, and local contexts. Román examines mainstream as well as alternative and activist forms of theatre, including solo performance, community-based projects, mixed-media events, activist demonstrations, and AIDS educational theatre initiatives.

Acts of Intervention traces the ways in which performance and theater have participated in and informed the larger cultural politics of race, sexuality, citizenship, and AIDS in the United States during the last fifteen years. The book discusses not only how the theater has provided a forum for gay male response to the epidemic but also the degree to which those responses have in turn shaped the ideological formulation of AIDS. Román offers a new method for mapping the relation between AIDS and representation by combining interpretive strategies from performance theory, gay and lesbian studies, critical race discourse, and cultural studies.

This book is dedicated to writing the history of theatrical interventions in the AIDS epidemic, including performances whose official history has been largely neglected or forgotten. Because many early performances about AIDS left little or no documentation, the task of constructing an AIDS theatre historiography confronts immediate problems and limitations.

Acts of Intervention argues that the history of AIDS performance is located at the juncture of memory and disappearance, of mourning and survival, of representation and its impossibility in the context of epidemic loss.

Author Bio

David RomÁn is Associate Professor of English at the University of Southern California.


“" . . . extraordinary . . . richly textured . . . there is nothing boring about this book and what it calls us to: a politics and theatre criticism joined to (and by) hope." —Theatre Journal “Acts of Intervention skillfully intertwines performance theory, social criticism, queer theory, and history to prove that in order to understand fully the social and political relevance of AIDS, it is necessary to look at artistic productions and performances.” —New York Blade News “This is a fascinating book . . . Román has done an excellent job in bringing a wealth of information about performance, gay culture, and AIDS to the reader. A highly recommended book for all libraries.” —AIDS Book Review Journal “ . . . a profound and unique book, with a personal voice and public importance.” —Michael Warner “ . . . among the best there is to offer in gay/lesbian theater and performance studies.” —Jill Dolan From candlelight vigils to full-scale Broadway productions such as Angels in America and Rent, public performances over the past fifteen years have been shaped by AIDS. Author David Román examines the ways that gay men have used alternative, activist, and mainstream theater and performance to intervene in the AIDS crisis.”

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