"Come look at the freaks" the complexities of valorizing the "freak" in "Side show" /

by Harrick, Stephen.

Abstract (Summary)
Dr. Jonathan Chambers, Advisor The Broadway musical Side Show, by Bill Russell and Henry Krieger, focuses on reallife conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton, who sang and danced in carnivals and side shows in the middle part of the 20th century. Side Show dramatizes the Hilton’s rise to fame, as well as their romantic liaisons. Russell and Krieger’s presumed objective with Side Show is to represent Daisy and Violet as individuals, which they succeed at doing. By granting the Hilton twins individuality, the authors give value to the actual Daisy and Violet Hilton. However, Russell and Krieger specify that the performers playing Daisy and Violet be separated throughout the musical. Therefore, Side Show’s conjoined twins are not connected to each other during the performance. In seeking to grant individuality to the actual Hilton sisters, Russell and Krieger have taken away part of what made Daisy and Violet unique individuals. Ironically, the same representational tactics that work to valorize the Hilton twins in the musical also bring with them severe limitations, which thwart Russell and Krieger’s presumed objective of giving agency to the actual Hilton twins. This thesis begins with a brief overview of the historical Hilton sisters, contextualizing the women Side Show seeks to valorize. Throughout the study I apply Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of the carnivalesque, as well as Julia Kristeva’s abject theory, to the script, evaluating how Side Show succeeds and fails to valorize the Hilton twins. I conclude by proposing a different way of performing the text than by following the specifications that accompany the published script, thereby offering a new representation of the staged “freaks” in Side Show. For my parents, Edward and Karen Harrick iv v
Bibliographical Information:


School:Bowling Green State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:krieger henry hilton daisy violet monsters in mass media conjoined twins freak shows


Date of Publication:

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