I was a teenaged fabulist: The dark play of adolescent sexuality in U.S. drama

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The breakout hit of the 2007 Humana Festival, Carlos Murillo's dark play or stories for boys received wide notice for its provocative theatricalization of the "true" story of "one teenager's near-fatal internet attraction." In subsequent professional productions in major U.S. cities including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Salt Lake City (as well as scores of university productions nationwide), Murillo's dark play has been routinely promoted as a tale of contemporary teen life, depicting dangers and deceptions peculiar to the Internet age. In this article, I argue that the significance of Murillo's dark play derives less from its contemporaneity than from its clarifying evocation of the longer history of staging sexually precocious adolescent characters within U.S. middlebrow drama since the early decades of the twentieth century. As I trace how such intimate dramas of gossip, rumour, and innuendo evoke the "dangerous games" played by adolescent characters in mid-century works by Lillian Hellman, Arthur Miller, and Robert Anderson, this article explicates how the "teen fabulist," the kid who makes stuff up about herself or himself and others, emerges as a privileged device through which U.S. dramatists have sought to stage otherwise unstageable uncertainties about morality, hypocrisy and societal norms configuring "truth.".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)332-349
Number of pages18
JournalModern Drama
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Literature and Literary Theory


  • Arthur Miller
  • Carlos Murillo
  • Lillian Hellman
  • Richard Schechner
  • Robert Anderson
  • adolescence
  • gossip
  • sexuality
  • slander


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