Staging Difference: Cultural Pluralism in American Theatre and Drama

By Marc Maufort | Go to book overview
of American family drama to reflect their diverse ethnic and cultural experiences and definitions of family.Evident in Wilson's and Sanchez-Scott's inclusion of these seemingly non-realistic acts within a realistic framework is a dissatisfaction with the limits of the form. Lyons argues that the final ritualistic moment of Shepard Buried Child "functions as a self-conscious, ironic, manipulative image that makes reference to the theatrical convention itself" ( Lyons, "Shepard's Family Trilogy"117). Similarly, the endings of Fences and Roosters purposefully call attention to the artificiality of the realistic form. They foreground the illusion within realistic theatrical convention and "amplify" the inherent deficiencies within "the realistic project" ( Lyons, "Shepard's Family Trilogy"117). The unexpected, non-realistic conclusions to their plays suggest that realism itself is problematic and inadequate to accommodate certain cultural experiences or expressions of the current postmodern condition.And yet, as Lyons points out in "Addressing the American Theater," "realism remains the form in which American audiences are most comfortable" ( Lyons, "Addressing the American Theater"162). The most commercially viable of Wilson's works to date has been Fences. Similarly, Roosters has been one of the most produced Latino plays on the regional theatre circuit and has recently been adapted into a film for American Playhouse. By electing to create realistic American domestic dramas, Wilson and Sanchez-Scott necessarily must observe fundamental conventions of the genre. Through this process, they consciously and unconsciously connect themselves to the tradition of modern realistic practice. Thus, their acceptance in the mainstream must be attributed to their repetition of the narrative tropes associated with American family drama and not to their revisions of the form. And yet, the final moments of particularly Chicano and African-American celebration, act as powerful forces signaling beyond the conventional.
Works Cited
Bouknight Jon. "Language as a Cure: An Interview with Milcha Sanchez-Scott." Latin American Theatre Review 23. 2 (Spring 1990): 63-74.
DeVries Hilary "A Song in Search of Itself." American Theatre January 1987: 25.
Dolan Jill. The Feminist Spectator as Critic. Ann Arbor, MI: U of Michigan P, 1988.
Harrison Paul Carter. "August Wilson's Blues Poetics." In Three Plays by August Wilson.
Lubiano Wahneema. "Shuckin' Off the African-American Native Other: What's 'Po- Mo' Got to Do With It." Cultural Critique 18 (Spring 1991): 149-86.
Lyons Charles R. "Shepard's Family Trilogy and the Conventions of ModernRealism."

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