Southern Women Playwrights: New Essays in Literary History and Criticism

By Robert L. McDonald; Linda Rohrer Paige | Go to book overview

12
Amparo Garcia and the Eyes of Tejas: Texas
Community through Mexicana Eyes

Carolyn Roark

Amparo Garcia is a native Texan whose work often deals with both the daily lives of Mexicanos in the South and Southwest United States and with her personal experience of growing up in Texas. In her plays, both as text and as performance, Garcia seeks to recreate and to give representation to her community and herself in a forum that often excludes her or minimizes her significance. Her plays merit critical analysis (and popular attention) because she successfully combines contemporary characters and plots with lyrical dialogue, skillfully blends spiritual quest and revelation with life's innate sensuality and vulgarity, and finds humor in tragic social situations without dismissing their importance. Her work can enhance discussions of Southern drama because it reveals the inner workings of communities that limited notions of Southern identity and writing have often rendered invisible.

Scholars examining the region must acknowledge that, historically, the creators and critics of Southern art and literature have not been broadly inclusive in determining who represents the experience of Southern life and identity. According to Mary Ellis Gibson in her introduction to the anthology New Stories by Southern Women, “Southern literature was originally defined in terms that were white and largely male and has taken the notion of southernness at its center; from this center it has accommodated work by white women, black men, and less often black women” (6). Richard Owen Geer, a theater practitioner who works with community performance in the South, notes a similar homogeneity in the traditional theater-at-large, which includes Southern drama: “American Theater carried no local information. Instead it broadcast a 'one size fits all' brand of entertainment created by a cultural elite. This professionalized performance-genre used play to cloak its culture-shaping work. Theaters were factories for the production of mass culture” (29). While Southern theater does carry a notion of local or regional information, the concept of a

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