The Tony Awards and its Aftereffects

The Tony Awards show was last night. My first love, before all else, is probably theater, even if this only boils down to singing Sondheim songs at inappropriate times and having a definitive opinion on Neil Patrick Harris’s hosting skills (verdict: never good). The Tony’s two biggest winners were Fun Home, for Best Musical, and Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, for Best Play. With Fun Home, I’ve been limited to watching its adorable baby leads belt power ballads on YouTube, but I actually had a chance to see Curious Incident a couple of years ago while I was in London, scoring a day ticket for the front row for only 12£. (I’m originally from Atlanta, Georgia, but I make a point of traveling as much as possible.) I only managed to see about a third of it, because about 30 minutes into the production, the roof to the Apollo Theater collapsed. I crawled out with my mouth covered by a pashmina to block the clouds of dust and plaster. The police commandeered London’s famous double-deckers to zip people to the hospital.

I have a habit of being simultaneously lucky and unlucky, with the Bad Things that happen to me only being just bad enough to make great conversation fodder at cocktail parties. Other than that, at Rutgers, I plan on studying English literature. I signed up to participate in GradFund with the immediate goal of applying for the Ford Fellowship this fall. I study 20th century texts: Virginia Woolf, Djuna Barnes, Chester Himes, Nella Larsen, and William Faulkner are some favorites. My research largely centers on interpretation and failed interpretation in all of its various aspects, particularly lingering on discourse about identity indeterminacy, especially racial passing, androgyny, and the “neutral” avatars of identity in cyberspace (here on WordPress, we are all tiny gray circles, rather than people).

Like those characters in Fun Home, I’m fascinated by the ways we constantly corrupt and corrode expectations about “appropriately” presenting our race, our gender, our nationality, our sexuality. The tour de force from Fun Home is song called “Ring of Keys”: for the first time in her life, the main character sees a woman with short hair, dungarees, and a ring of keys hooked on her belt loop. She never realized a woman could have short hair. She hadn’t realized there were so many different ways to be “female.” That’s really what I’m interested in: recognition. Even without those “necessary” markers of femininity (no hair? no dress? no heels? no heels?), she recognizes that woman with the ring of keys. The markers themselves are arbitrary, then. The concept of femaleness is arbitrary. I love it!

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