An Historical Study For a Production Reconstructing Helen Keller's Vaudeville and Lecture Performances

Date of Graduation

Fall 1994


Master of Arts


Theatre and Dance

Committee Chair

Linda Park-Fuller


Reconstructions offer a lively approach to theatrical research. This study addresses the research process leading to a reconstruction performance featuring an historical figure in a theatrical setting. By combining the positive characteristic of reconstructed performances with the popular biographical one-person show genre, this study examines the strengths and weaknesses of both forms. Following an introductory chapter, Chapter Two includes a discusssion of current studies in theatre history leading to reconstruction as an historical method. Specifically, this study provides a projected concept for reproducing an actual program presented by Helen Keller on the vaudeville circuit during the early 1920's. Chapter Three yields information on the documentation process necessary to produce a reconstructed performance and provides interpretation of the materials gathered. Chapter Four provides information on script compilation for reconstructed performances. Discussion of the acting-reconstruction process as well as aspects of technical staging also provides insight for those attempting reconstruction projects. Additionally, Chapter Four includes a discussion of audience reactions and perceptions of reconstructed performances as well as a discussion of common problems and benefits afforded audience members. The fifth and final chapter offers a summary and conclusion. The chapter also points directions for future research showing potential application for teaching history and performance.

Subject Categories

Theatre and Performance Studies


© Karen Payne Malone