Staging Words, Performing Worlds: Intertextuality and Nation in Contemporary Latin American Theater

Staging Words, Performing Worlds: Intertextuality and Nation in Contemporary Latin American Theater

Staging Words, Performing Worlds: Intertextuality and Nation in Contemporary Latin American Theater

Staging Words, Performing Worlds: Intertextuality and Nation in Contemporary Latin American Theater

Synopsis

Staging Words, Performing Worlds presents new perspectives on Argentina, Cuba, Mexico, and Venezuela and their theater, by theorizing how, through performance, nation can be "re-imagined" and reconstructed. Each chapter frames the sociopolitical and theatrical national context and presents a theoretical analysis of the dramatic and ideological functions of intertexts in plays by Victor Hugo, Rascón Banda, Maruxa Vilalta, César Rengifo, Néstor Caballero, Eduardo Pavlovsky, and Rafael Spregelburd, among others. Bulman demonstrates how past artistic texts - other plays, stories, newspaper articles, songs, or paintings - can be reworked and "translated" to create a new theatrical spirit. The multiple levels of translation - intertext to text, text to script, script to performance - have implications for the ways texts are interpreted and for how they in turn "perform" their nation. Well researched, theoretically sophisticated, and highly readable, Staging Words, Performing Worlds explores the problematic notion of nation today. It will be of interest to scholars, dramatists, playwrights, critics of Latin American theater, and to those working in world-theater and cultural studies.

Excerpt

Nation is an elusive concept. who or what gives that word meaning? the bloody boundary wars in the Middle East and Asia, the ethnic wars in Rwanda, Sudan, the former Soviet Union, and the former Yugoslavia, the attacks on the United States, Spain, Great Britain, and other sovereign nations by transnational terrorist groups in the name of religion, all challenge any notion of nation as a stable geographical space and question ethnicity or religion as national markers. Globalization, with its far-reaching political, economic, cultural, and technological implications, further complicates definitions of nation.

Most Latin American nations have been relatively stable during the past hundred years; no new countries have emerged and, in spite of violent factions within some spaces, the nations themselves have remained intact. However, defining nation and one’s place in it is becoming increasingly difficult. in 1999, for example, amid civil unrest and oppositional attacks, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez renamed his nation the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to commemorate and extend the national discourse of nineteenth-century patriot, Simón Bolívar. Economic problems in Argentina, political tensions in Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru, indigenous uprisings in Mexico, an indigenous-led government in Bolivia, the Cuban diaspora, Dominican transnational communities, and statist debates in Puerto Rico threaten cohesive definitions of individual nations in Latin America.

Though unstable, nation is, more than anything, a linguistic concept, for it is language that defines both the territory and those who belong to it. Moreover, as Simon During suggests, “Nationalism is … quite specifically, the battery of discursive and representational practices which define, legitimate, or valorize a specific nation-state or individuals as members of a nation-state” (1990, 138). Nation is configured through linguistic combinations, and as such, nation is a text, which, like other texts, does not exist in isolation. As texts refer to, recognize, or incorporate other texts within their boundaries, so too does the concept of nation depend on other national texts and contexts to define it.

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