Just in time for the 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz – the Builders Association brings their homage to the classic book and film to the NYU Skirball stage. Reflecting the technological dazzlement of the film’s switch from black and white to Technicolor, Builders Association uses “augmented reality” to elevate audience experience of the show.

Read the Indefinite Article by R. Luke Dubois. And join us on Saturday, Dec 7, 2019 for the NYU Skirball Book Club. We’ll be reading Gingerbreadby Helen Oyeyemi.

Office Hours: Coming Soon!

Get Into It

ELEMENTS OF OZ (Behind the Scenes at 3LD, 2015)
Behind the Scenes: "Elements of Oz"
ART WORK: An Evening with Marianne Weems I The New School
Marianne Weems Video Lecture

Get Thee to the LIbrary

Recommended readings to accompany the Indefinite Article by R. Luke Dubois.

Ranjit S. Dighe, The Historian’s Wizard of Oz: Reading L. Frank Baum’s Classic as a Political and Monetary Allegory. Praeger, 2002

Steve Dixon, Digital Performance: A History of New Media in Theater, Dance, Performance Art, and Installation. The MIT Press, 2015.

Shannon Jackson and Marianne Weems, The Builders Association: Performance and Media in Contemporary Theater. The MIT Press, 2015.

Jay Scarfone and William Stillman, The Road to Oz: The Evolution, Creation, and Legacy of a Motion Picture Masterpiece. Lyons Press, 2018.

Evan I. Schwartz, Finding Oz: How L. Frank Baum Discovered the Great American Story. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009.

Read All About It

Vice | Jan 3, 2017

This 'Wizard of Oz' Experience Beams Dorothy to Your Smartphone

AR enables theater artists to create an elevated viewing experience, enhancing what is normally technically possible in live performance, and Elements of Oz is one of the first productions of its kind.

Filmmaker Magazine | Feb 1, 2017

Elements of Oz: Producing Live Video and Interactive Theater

The entire production was heady stuff, calling to mind Jacques Derrida and Jean-Louis Baudry (with a heavy helping of Bertolt Brecht) as much as L. Frank Baum and Victor Fleming.

Over the Rainbow

The 1939 cinematic classic The Wizard of Oz is a touchstone of gay culture – but why? Theories abound, from Queen Judy to coded language to the Cowardly Lion’s fabulous makeover look.

Gay Times | Sep 26, 2015

Camp Sites: The Wizard of Oz

If we’re going to talk about camp, darling, we might as well start with The Wizard of Oz – arguably the quintessential gay film. Oz is as synonymous with gay men as drag or Madonna.

Philadelphia Gay News | Oct 20, 2016

'The Wizard of Oz' in the LGBT community

It is, of course, common knowledge that Judy Garland is a gay icon… but what else explains the ubiquitous references to “Oz” in drag performances and in the names of bars and businesses catering to the community?

Smithsonian | Oct 25, 2016

Are You a Friend of Dorothy? Folk Speech of the LGBT Community

Whatever its origins, “friend of Dorothy” illustrates several of the most important functions of folklore that serve members of the LGBT community.

It’s clear that the resonance of The Wizard of Oz continues today. Here are some more recent callbacks to the show from queer creators: Todrick Hall fulfills his life long obsession with the classic film by creating and starring in a feature-length visual album. And Taylor Mac discusses the choice of “judy” as a pronoun.

Straight Outta Oz (Deluxe Edition) by Todrick Hall
Todrick Hall, "Straight Outta Oz"
Taylor Mac Is Today's Yankee Doodle Dandy
Taylor Mac on gender and judy

Extra Credit

Gilbert Baker's original pride flag, 1978
Philadelphia Pride Flag, 2017

Judy Garland’s famous rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow is widely understood – without any single, definitive source – as one of the reasons The Wizard of Oz resonates so strongly in gay culture. The rainbow was officially integrated into queer iconography with the creation of the iconic rainbow flag.

The rainbow flag was created in 1978 by activist Gilbert Baker, who saw the need for a unifying symbol of gay pride. The original flag had 8 stripes – hot pink and turquoise were cut from later iterations due to production costs – and was hand-dyed and sewn at the Gay Community Center in San Francisco, CA. In May 2017, Baker added an additional 9th stripe to his original flag – lavender, to symbolize diversity – as a response to the Trump presidency.

In June 2017, the city of Philadelphia added a black and a brown stripe to the commonly used 6-stripe rainbow flag, to signify the city’s commitment to “more outward-facing advocacy for LGBTQ people of color.” This is now known as the Philly Pride Flag, or the More Color More Pride Flag.

Philadelphia and its Pride campaign’s addition of two stripes to the rainbow flag comes amidst the city’s underlying problem with racial discrimination in its gay bars.

Read more about the flag, and subsequent racist backlash against its adoption in Philadelphia.

June 17, 2016

MoMA Acquires the Rainbow Flag

I thought, a flag is different than any other form of art. It’s not a painting, it’s not just cloth, it is not a just logo—it functions in so many different ways. I thought that we needed that kind of symbol, that we needed as a people something that everyone instantly understands.