Roadwork: Offstage with Special Drama Actresses in Tamilnadu, South India

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Essay Excerpt

At the core of this essay are five fieldwork narratives. These retell specific experiences I had researching Special Drama actresses' roads. Each experience helped me to better understand actresses' actions offstage; these were episodes in which I learned, in particular, how and why actresses create private, exclusive spaces in the midst of the Tamil public sphere. Each narrative speaks of one leg in the journey to or from a Special Drama. Together, the five narratives thus constitute a single composite journey, which begins in a calendar shop in town (the first narrative), then heads out, by van (the second) or by bus (the third), to the site of a Special Drama stage and its backstage spaces (the fourth), and finally returns home, on foot, to town (the final narrative). This journey provides an impressionistic map, drawn from my own experiences traveling with specific women on specific roads, of the offstage spaces inhabited by Special Drama actresses. That is, my narrative maps out lived, experienced spaces; it does not aim to be an objective account of things seen at a distance. Each of these lived spaces is charged, for me, and remembered here by me, with images of particular women and men of the Special Drama world, images charged as much by the flair with which the artists interacted with me as by the deft pursuit of their own image-making practices (pp. 217-218).

From: Seizer, Susan. "Roadwork: Offstage with Special Drama Actresses in Tamilnadu, South India." Cultural Anthropology 15(2000): 217–259.

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