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Imagine Otherwise: Dorinne Kondo on Reparative Creativity

Imagine Otherwise: Dorinne Kondo on Reparative Creativity

June 25, 2020
Dorinne Kondo wearing a black shirt, smiling

What role can performance play in racial justice struggles? How can theater help us remake the world?

The past several months have made even more urgent the centuries-long fight to dismantle the antiblackness and Orientalism that are baked into our social institutions. Such transformations are at the heart of the pedagogy, scholarship, and dramaturgy produced by today’s guest, playwright Dorinne Kondo. Dorinne’s work traces what she calls “reparative creativity,” or the ways artists make, unmake, and remake race through their creative work.

In episode 114 of Imagine Otherwise, host Cathy Hannabach interviews Dorinne Kondo about how Asian American theater companies are reshaping liveness in the context of COVID-19, the powerful role of performance in protests against the state-sponsored killing of Black people, how norms of ability and disability are built into the structure of theater, and why theorizing a new relationship to vulnerability is how Dorinne imagines otherwise.

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You can also read the transcript and show notes on the Ideas on Fire website, which have links to Dorinne’s work and all the concepts, people, and events we discuss on the show (great for teaching!).

Guest: Dorinne Kondo

Scholar, playwright and dramaturg Dorinne Kondo is a professor of American Studies and Anthropology and former director of Asian American studies at the University of Southern California.

She served as dramaturg for the world premieres of three plays by Anna Deavere Smith: Twilight; Los Angeles 1992 (Mark Taper Forum), House Arrest (Arena Stage), and Let Me Down Easy (Long Wharf Theatre).

Dorinne’s plays include Dis)graceful(l) Conduct, But Can He Dance?, and Seamless.

Kondo’s books include the award-winning Crafting Selves: Power, Gender and Discourses of Identity in a Japanese and About Face: Performing Race in Fashion and Theater. Her latest book Worldmaking: Race, Performance, and the Work of Creativity, based on twenty years of participation in theater as dramaturg, scholar, and playwright, pulls the auratic back to earth by analyzing backstage creative labor as theory and as race-making practice.

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