Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

The Dramatizing of a Nation: A Theatrical Investigation into Defining a 21st Century American Ideology

Prof. Joshua Machamer.

There is no present or future, only the past happening over and over again - now. - Eugene O’Neill, Moon for the Misbegotten

What does it mean to be an American? The past is ‘merely prologue’ to the events that transpire in the present - within the very fabric of history can we find the definition(s) of ourselves today. A nation, as Benedict Anderson says,”…is more than a political entity, it is a state of mind.” This paper will investigate the mindset of America through the lens of theatrical conventions. The theatre, as an art form, has displayed itself as both a catalyst as well as a by-product of social ideology. This paper examines seminal plays, personas and organizations of the current 21st century American theatrical canon as templates to piece together an understanding of what it is to be AMERICAN. By immersing theatre within a context of the other foundational aspects of the Humanities (literature, philosophy, historical make-up, social conditioning and philosophical/artistic expression), the hope is to showcase that the productions/bi-products of theatre today are the result of our own experiences of existence. In particular, it allocates a better understanding of the road in which America has traveled over the last one hundred years and, especially in light of the recent events, the vision of what might lie ahead…


Prof. Joshua Machamer  (United States)
Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts
Theatre and Dance Department
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Mr. Machamer has extensive experience within the television and film industry, working with top name companies like ABC, Walt Disney, Warner Bros. & CBS, as well as with stars like David Letterman, Bonnie Hunt, Carol Burnett and Dolly Parton. As a scholar, he has participated as an invited artist at the IUTA 3rd World Theatre Conference in Dakar, Senegal; the Viewpoint Theory Conference with Anne Bogart; studied the aspects of the Theatre of the Oppressed with famed Brazilian Director Augusto Boal, as well as continues to write articles and publications for the Pasadena Playhouse and Globe Theatres, San Diego. Mr. Machamer is a member of several organizations, including ATHE, DTASC, LMDA, TCG.

Having recently come from Cal Poly Pomona, where he served as the Assistant Chair of the Theatre Arts Department, teaching courses in Directing, Theatre History, American Drama, Acting and Introduction to Theatre, Mr. Machamer is now an Assistant Professor in the Theatre and Dance Department at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He is kept sane by his wife Kristen, daughter Riley and the house the always needs “work.”

  • Investigative
  • Archeological
  • Modern
  • "American"
  • Defining
  • Nationalistic
  • Challenging

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)