Theatre & Dance ETDs


Erin Phillips

Publication Date



The adolescent body and the space of performance both employ a dynamic of liminality - constantly changing and shifting, never "complete," never able to be fully defined, understood, or categorized. There is a compulsion we have in naming, categorizing and defining the bodies and emotional life of young people. Where the liminality of performance may be welcomed and viewed as a necessary and desired component of the experience, the liminality of adolescence is deeply troubling. The issue of erotic agency further complicates our relationship to the adolescent body - a concept of "body" that seems almost born out of erotic tension. The adolescent body is not yet seen as a sexual being, but is also not devoid of sexuality and erotic potential. We try so desperately to define and manage how an adolescent body might traverse its maturation and find its own erotic agency, and we strip them of that chance by managing it with such conviction. Through the course of developing my play, That One Forbidden Thing, which centers on a young girl who is experiencing her own, deeply complicated, sexual "awakening," I encountered these dynamics in action - fixing themselves on my own work. I began to wonder if the tensions that were playing out on my play could shed light on how we might more productively engage adolescence - in performance, certainly, but also in life. This manifesto is a step towards finding a way to fully engage bodies that are limited in their access to agency and voice, a call-to-arms, of sorts, to push towards an existence wherein we might live fully and allow the experience of that living to be felt by any body that might want it.

Degree Name

Dramatic Writing

Level of Degree


Department Name

Theatre & Dance

First Advisor

Herrera, Brian

First Committee Member (Chair)

Linnell, Jim

Second Committee Member

Cyrino, Monica

Third Committee Member

Weiss, Kathleen

Fourth Committee Member

McDuffie, Matthew




performance, adolescence, Erotic agency

Document Type