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Codifying the National Self

Spectators, Actors and the American Dramatic Text


Edited By Barbara Ozieblo and María Dolores Narbona-Carrión

Theater has always been the site of visionary hopes for a reformed national future and a space for propagating ideas, both cultural and political, and such a conceptualization of the histrionic art is all the more valuable in the post-9/11 era. The essays in this volume address the concept of «Americanness» and the perceptions of the «alien» – as ethnic, class or gendered minorities – as dealt with in the work of American playwrights from Anna Cora Mowatt, through Rachel Crothers or Susan Glaspell, and on to Sam Shepard, David Mamet, Nilo Cruz or Wallace Shawn. The authors of the essays come from a multi-national university background that includes the United States, the United Arab Emirates and various countries of the European Community. In recognition of the multiple components of drama, the essays for the volume were selected in order to exemplify different aspects and theories of theater studies: the playwright, the play, the audience and the actor are all examined as part of the theatrical experience that serves to formulate American national identity.


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The Woman Artist as Portrayed by Rachel Crothers and Heather McDonald 69


The Woman Artist as Portrayed by Rachel Crothers and Heather McDonald María Dolores NARBONA-CARRIÓN University of Málaga “Every art contributes to the greatest art of all, the art of living.” (Brecht 204) Theater has always represented a crucial arena where human beings’ lives, feelings, anxieties and reform proposals have been reflected and explored in relation to many different fields – cultural, social and politi- cal – a fact that has been favored by its public character and projection. Thus, although women have on the whole been ignored by the theatrical world from its very origins, the so-called American “New Woman” took advantage of the opportunities of expression that the stage offered and which have been emphasized by numerous salient figures from different epochs, such as Richard Wagner, W. B. Yeats, Gordon Craig, Kenneth Macgowan, and the very influential Bertolt Brecht. As Viv Gardner explains, the term “New Woman,” in the period of 1894 to 1914, was almost synonymous with our contemporary “feminist,” and it was reputedly first used by the radical novelist Sarah Grand, in an article in the North American Review of May 1894 (vii). These New Women followed the example of some of their predecessors – brave women like Judith Sargent Murray (1751-1820) or Ana Cora Mowatt (1819-1870), to mention but a few – and worked to clear the path that their successors would take. From the many subjects that they chose to display on stage before their audiences, the question of the unjust situation of the woman artist...

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