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Gestures of Music TheaterThe Performativity of Song and Dance$
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Dominic Symonds and Millie Taylor

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199997152

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199997152.001.0001

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“Love, Let Me Sing You”

“Love, Let Me Sing You”

The Liminality of Song and Dance in LaChiusa’s Bernarda Alba (2006)

(p.91) Chapter 6 “Love, Let Me Sing You”
Gestures of Music Theater

Matthew Lockitt

Oxford University Press

Michael John LaChiusa utilizes the musical theater’s two primary song forms, the book and the diegetic song, in his 2006 musical Bernarda Alba. Song and dance are purported to be functional elements that further plot and develop character in a musical. However, recent scholarship challenges this integrated ideal suggesting the inherent repetitions of song structure create a state of suspension pausing the progression of plot. This chapter addresses these conflicting ideas and asserts that song and dance are gestures of active-suspension. Applying the liminal structures of Social Drama and the Liminoid, as defined by Victor Turner, to these numbers within Bernarda Alba we can better understand the differences in the dramatic and performative function of both song types. Within this hermeneutic schema the book song becomes an obligatory action in which a character must engage, while the diegetic is a song one chooses to sing.

Keywords:   Musical Theatre, Liminality, Social Drama, Book Song, Liminoid, Diegetic Song, Repetition, Michael John LaChiusa, Graciela Daniele

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