My dissertation, Somnambulist Drama: Boredom on and of the Stage, 1887-1963, examines the ways in which boredom has been used, paradoxically, to galvanize audiences towards action, revolution, and empathy. The current discourse on boredom in literature focuses primarily on the novel, and therefore neglects one of the most dependable and excruciating expressions of boredom: that of being trapped in the theater, by walls, by social codes, and by one’s own artistic expectations. Meanwhile, major studies of the affect itself often puzzle over boredom’s transference between persons. My study shows that in representing boredom on stage, and extending that same yawn to the audience through minimalist aesthetics, drama has already scripted a phenomenology of boredom in its native language of mimesis and catharsis. Feeling bored in the theater breaches the “contract of attention” drawn up by Aristotle and enforced by conventional entertainments, and, in so doing, counterintuitively creates new forms of free play and aesthetic satiety. My chapters center on the work of Maurice Maeterlinck, Anton Chekhov, and Samuel Beckett, as well as philosophical and psychological literatures contemporaneous to each case study. Somnambulist Drama draws together the etymologies and cultural histories of ennui, skuchno, langeweile, and boredom to create a full portrait of how Western theater has understood nation-specific affects to have common artistic and political utility. The past century of uncomfortable plays ultimately shows that boredom is a personal problem with trans-historical implications, which, in its isolating silence, loudly demands collective action.