Winner: Lin, Erika T. “Performance Practice and Theoretical Privilege: Rethinking Weimann’s Concepts of Locus and Platea.” New Theatre Quarterly (2006): 283–98.
We are please to award this year's Martin Stevens' Best Essay Award to Erika Lin for her article entitled "Performance Practice and Theoretical Privilege: Rethinking Weimann's Concepts of 'Locus' and 'Platea.'" Rather than literalizing the characters' geographic placement on stage in terms of the fiction being performed, as Robert Weimann and subsequent scholars have done, Lin argues that a more nuanced performance-based reading of early modern theater texts results instead in a new understanding of the relationship between the actor and his audience. Lin analyses specific scenes in a number of Shakespeare's plays to demonstrate, as she says, that "the terms 'locus' and 'platea' inherently describe presentational dynamics of performance, not characters" (294). Her investigation underlines the distinction to be made between those characters who were socially privileged within the play and those who were theatrically privileged by virtue of their ability to manipulate the performance medium in order to speak outside of it. We found Lin's argumentation convincing, her analysis well-written and, as one committee member noted, her work to be something of a 'page-turner.'
Awards announcement and presentation took place during the annual MRDS business meeting in May at the International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan.