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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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“Captured Images.” Performing the First Nations’ “Other” 169


“Captured Images” Performing the First Nations’ “Other” Marc MAUFORT University of Brussels Whereas Canadian Aboriginal playwrights have achieved a quasi- mainstream status, Native drama in the United States has never received its due recognition. The pioneering efforts of Hanay Geiogamah in the 1970s with the Native American Theater Ensemble have been docu- mented, although they seem to be remembered primarily for their his- torical significance. Similarly, the Spiderwoman collective has not failed to elicit critical attention over the years.1 However, the dramatic works of other United States Native playwrights have constantly been relegated to the margins of theatrical practice, more so perhaps than the dramatic output of any other “ethnic” group, especially that of the African American community. This essay seeks to somewhat redress this distorted view of the American drama landscape by focusing on selected Native works produced in the last thirty years or so. I acknow- ledge the artificiality of distinguishing United States from Canadian Native drama: First Nations people do not recognize the geo-political boundaries imposed upon them by the Western colonizing power. However, the exclusively American focus of this anthology justifies my choice to some extent. My admittedly arbitrary selection offers a recon- sideration of works by Hanay Geiogamah, Spiderwoman, Diane Glancy, and Annette Arkeketa against the backdrop of the canon of American drama. I plan to show how these playwrights have unconsciously rein- terpreted the models of Western poetic stage realism so manifest in the plays of Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller. In...

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