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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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Charles Mee’s Intertextual and Intercultural Inscriptions. The Suppliants vs Big Love 105


Charles Mee’s Intertextual and Intercultural Inscriptions The Suppliants vs Big Love∗ Savas PATSALIDIS Aristotle University, Thessaloniki Il n’y a pas de hors-textes (Jacques Derrida) Life [...] is an experience we share with others (Charles Mee) Despite (or because of) the political, technological and other radical changes in our postmodern times, theater artists from all over the world still turn to the Greek classics, perhaps more frequently than any of their predecessors, with a variety of motives. Some are attracted by the mater- ial or the character of the original which in many cases has led to a new version, a self standing work. Others are tempted by the possibilities of restoring the original vision and effect of a play which they deem to have become obscured or distorted (Innes 248, 249).1 Their claim is that no matter how timely some of the classical themes appear to be, the passage of time and social change inevitably leave their mark. As Peter Sellars claims, prefacing the run of his Gulf War adaptation of Aeschy- lus’ The Persians (1993), “a classic is a house we’re still living in. And as with any old house, you’re going to fix it up and add a new wing. It’s not an exhibit. It’s meant to be lived in, and not admired” (qtd. in Lahr 103). Which means that to make this old house a home to reflect the ∗ I would like to thank my colleague Ruth Parkin Gounelas for reading the paper and making useful suggestions....

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