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Signatures of the Past

Cultural Memory in Contemporary Anglophone North American Drama


Marc Maufort and Caroline De Wagter

In the last decades of the twentieth century, North American drama has powerfully enacted the problematic notions of cultural memory and identity, as the essays assembled in this critical anthology demonstrate. Echoing Derrida’s non-essentialist interpretation of the term «signature», this collection provides an innovative focus on North American theatre and drama as a site of latent cultural memories. In this volume, the concept of cultural memory offers a privileged vantage point from which to redefine issues of diasporic identities, exilic predicaments, and multi-ethnic subject positions at the dawn of a new century. Playwrights examined here include noted Canadian and US artists such as Marie Clements, Eva Ensler, Lorraine Hansberry, Tomson Highway, Cherríe Moraga, Djanet Sears, Guillermo Verdecchia, August Wilson, and Chay Yew, to cite but a few. In the process of remembering, North American dramatists develop new aesthetic modes in which the signatures of the past merge with the present and foreshadow an imagined future.
Contents: Marc Maufort: Signatures of Cultural Memory – Craig Walker: «Hopeful Monsters and Doomed Freaks.» Evolutionary Overtones in Canadian and American Drama – Harry J. Elam, Jr.: Remembering Africa, Performing Cultural Memory. Lorraine Hansberry, Suzan-Lori Parks and Djanet Sears – Ric Knowles: Performing Intercultural Memory in the Diasporic Present. The Case of Toronto – Jacqueline Petropoulos: «The Ground On Which I Stand.» Rewriting History, African Canadian Style – Michele Elam: Mixed Race and Cultural Memory. Carl Hancock Rux’s Talk – Jerry Wasserman: Remembering Agraba. Canadian Political Theatre and the Construction of Cultural Memory – Guillermo Verdecchia: Contending with Rupture. Memory-work in Latina-Canadian Playwriting – Phil Howard: La Tierra, Nuestra Madre. Land, Burial, Memory and Chicanidad in the Dramaturgies of Alfaro, Moraga, and Sanchez-Scott – Micaela Díaz-Sánchez: Impossible Patriots. The Exiled Queer Citizen in Cherríe Moraga’s The Hungry Woman: A Mexican Medea – Cherríe L. Moraga: Indígena as Scribe. The (W)rite to Remember – Celia Herrera Rodríguez: Cositas Quebradas: Performance Codex – Mary Blackstone: «Prior Was Here.» Renegotiating a Role for the Ghost of Cultural Memory in Four Cree Plays – Sheila Rabillard: «Being in a memory but present in time.» Re-inscription of Multiple Memories in Marie Clement’s The Unnatural and Accidental Women – Sammie Choy: The Bones Perform. Ola Nā Iwi and the Viability of Memory – Ginny Ratsoy: The Creation of Shifting Local Identities. Historically-Based Theatre in a Canadian Small City – Roberta Mock: Memories, Hauntings and Exorcisms in Brad Fraser’s Snake in Fridge – Susan Kattwinkel: Spreading American Feminism. The Vagina Monologues and Cultural Identitiy – Birgit Schreyer Duarte: «Suddenly, Canada is hot.» Memories of Canadian Identity Construction as Cultural Export in Michael Healey’s The Drawer Boy – Caroline De Wagter: Re-configuring Cultural Memory in Chay Yew’s Wonderland and M.J. Kang’s Blessings – Karen Shimakawa: Performing the Asian American Signature in Law and Theatre.