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restricted access ‘‘Courage to Do What Is Right’’ on Cold War Broadway: Leonard Spigelgass’ A Majority of One
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‘‘Courage to Do What Is Right’’ on Cold War Broadway: Leonard Spigelgass’ A Majority of One Seunghyun Hwang Abstract: Throughout the 1950s, the United States experienced major alterations in its global defence alliances and trade treaties. The Cold War threat of Communism initiated the need for pro-democracy allies in Asia. Subtle pro-America and pro-democracy themes were commonly incorporated into theatre, film, and television. Various productions contained Asian or Asian American characters who were depicted as peace-loving, law-abiding, and non-threatening. This essay examines the 1959 Broadway production of Leonard Spigelgass’ A Majority of One with regard to the changing mainstream representation of Asian identity in the historical context of the Cold War. The production’s portrayal of a dignified Asian identity, a message of racial tolerance, and a progressive positive identity change are examined using the published play-script and other primary source documents from 1959 and 1960. The concept of spatial identity developed by Ulrich Best and Anke Strüver is applied to character behaviour in four separate spaces: a Brooklyn apartment, a trans-Pacific ship, a Tokyo house, and a diplomatic residence. Keywords: spatial identity, social stratification, Asian Americans, Cold War, racial tolerance, Leonard Spigelgass Résumé : Tout au long des années 1950, les États-Unis ont connu un bouleversement de leurs alliances militaires et de leurs traités commerciaux à l’échelle internationale. Pendant la guerre froide, la menace du communisme a soulevé le besoin de forger des alliances prodémocratie avec l’Asie. Des thèmes proaméricains et prodémocraties ont été subtilement introduits au théâtre, au cinéma et à la télévision, et diverses productions ont mis en scène des personnages asiatiques ou américano-asiatiques dépeints comme des personnes pacifiques, respectueuses de la loi et non menaçantes. 6 Canadian Review of American Studies/Revue canadienne d’études américaines ahead of print article doi: 10.3138/cras.2016.008 This ahead of print version may differ slightly from the final published version. L’article étudie la production, par Leonard Spigelgass, de A Majority of One, sur Broadway, en 1959, du point de vue du changement en cours dans la représentation habituelle de l’identité asiatique, dans le contexte historique de la guerre froide. Le portrait qu’on y trace d’une identité asiatique très digne, le message de tolérance raciale et le changement d’identité positif et progressif illustrés dans la pièce sont examinés à partir du texte publié de la pièce et d’autres sources primaires datant de 1959 et 1960. Le concept d’identité spatiale élaboré par Ulrich Best et Anke Strüver est appliqué au comportement des personnages dans quatre lieux différents : un appartement de Brooklyn, un navire qui traverse le Pacifique , une maison de Tokyo et la résidence d’un diplomate. Mots clés : identité spatiale, stratification sociale, Asiatiques-Américains, guerre froide, tolérance raciale, Leonard Spigelgass Throughout the 1950s, the United States experienced major alterations in its global defence alliances and trade treaties. With the conclusion of World War II and the onset of the Cold War, Asian countries began to realign their domestic and foreign policies. The Chinese Revolution of 1949 brought the Chinese Communist Party to power and changed the once wartime ally into a threat to democracy. Anti-Communist reactions, provoked by the Chinese Communist participation in the Korean War (1950–3), resulted in Americans identifying the new adversary in Asia as yellow in race and red in ideology (Takaki 415). The Soviet Union’s close supportive ties with Communist regimes in eastern and south-eastern Asia added to the regional tension. Soviet propaganda, designed to discredit the United States government, criticized America for its ethnic exclusion laws and blatant domestic racism (Klein 40). The criticism ‘‘stained the image of American democracy at a time when U.S. officials hoped to win the hearts and minds of people around the world’’ (Wu 391). The federal government in Washington passed legislation such as the Alien Fiancées and Fiancés...