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Contemporary Latina/o Theater

Wrighting Ethnicity

Jon D. Rossini

Publication Year: 2008

In Contemporary Latina/o Theater, Jon D. Rossini explores the complex relationship between theater and the creation of ethnicity in an unprecedented examination of six Latina/o playwrights and their works: Miguel Piñero, Luis Valdez, Guillermo Reyes, Octavio Solis, José Rivera, and Cherríe Moraga. Rossini exposes how these writers use the genre as a tool to reveal and transform existing preconceptions about their culture.  Through “wrighting”—the triplicate process of writing plays, righting misconceptions about ethnic identity, and creating an entirely new way of understanding Latina/o culture—these playwrights directly intervene in current conversations regarding ethnic identity, providing the tools for audiences to reexplore their previously held perspectives outside the theater.

Examining these writers and their works in both cultural and historical contexts, Rossini reveals how playwrights use the liminal space of the stage—an area on the thresholds of both theory and reality—to “wright” new insights into Latina/o identity.  They use the limits of the theater itself to offer practical explorations of issues that could otherwise be discussed only in highly theoretical terms.

Rossini traces playwrights’ methods as they address some of the most challenging issues facing contemporary Latinas/os in America: from the struggles for ethnic solidarity and the dangers of a community based in fear, to stereotypes of Latino masculinity and the problematic fusion of ethnicity and politics.  Rossini discusses the looming specter of the border in theater, both as a conceptual device and as a literal reality—a crucial subject for modern Latinas/os, given recent legislation and other actions.   Throughout, the author draws intriguing comparisons to the cultural limbo in which many Latinas/os find themselves today. 

An indispensable volume for anyone interested in drama and ethnic studies, Contemporary Latina/o Theater underscores the power of theatricality in exploring and rethinking ethnicity.  Rossini provides the most in-depth analysis of these plays to date, offering a groundbreaking look at the ability of playwrights to correct misconceptions and create fresh perspectives on diversity, culture, and identity in Latina/o America.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Series Page, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-9

Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

As a careful reader and wonderfully supportive mentor and friend, Jorge Huerta has been instrumental to the completion of this book from its very early stages. He is truly the godfather of Chicano theater studies. Tamara Underiner and Patricia Ybarra helped me through a crucial step in the revision process with insightful and incisive comments about the first chapter. ...

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1. Introduction: Writing, Righting, and Wrighting Ethnicity

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pp. 1-25

Latina/o playwrights are uniquely positioned within contemporary culture to provide compelling ways of understanding the often vexed and oversimplified concept of ethnicity. As Latinas/os they are part of the second-largest ethnic group in the United States, one with increasing national visibility, as well as growing economic and political power. ...

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2. Miguel Piñero’s Theatricality: Fear, Respect, and Community

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pp. 26-53

On Sunday, August 17, 1969, a five-foot-high wall of burning garbage blocked all six lanes of traffic on Third Avenue in El Barrio, the Puerto Rican neighborhood in East Harlem. This spectacular culmination of a political protest begun on July 27 was designed to draw attention to the Department of Sanitation’s failure to provide adequate service in the neighborhood. ...

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3. El Pachuco: Myth, Theatricality, and Ambivalent Community

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pp. 54-76

As I joined the line to enter the theater on a warm August Sunday afternoon in San Jose, California, I could feel a palpable excitement. We were going to witness the twenty-fifth-anniversary revival of Luis Valdez’s play Zoot Suit, directed by his son Kinán and presented at the Center for Employment Training in San Jose, California. ...

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4. Bandidos to Badges: Criminality and the Genre of Ethnicity

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pp. 77-112

Building upon his wrighting of the ambivalent figure of the pachuco, in Bandido! and I Don’t Have to Show You No Stinking Badges, Luis Valdez continues to focus on the intersection of criminality, history, and representation. From the bandido, the historical bandit, to the cholo, the contemporary cousin of the pachuco, ...

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5. Wrighting the Borders in the 1990s

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pp. 113-146

The U.S.-Mexican border is a site of national, political, and economic contestation that has been used increasingly as a conceptual paradigm for explicating new forms of identity, culture, and information that incorporate the in-between or liminal nature of border space. ...

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6. José Rivera’s Aesthetics of Wrighting

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pp. 147-175

In José Rivera’s essay “36 Assumptions about Writing Plays,” number 14 is, “If Realism is as artificial as any other genre, strive to create your own realism. If theatre is a handicraft in which you make one of a kind pieces, then you’re in complete control of your fictive universe. What are its physical laws? ...

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7. Cherríe Moraga and the Wrighting of Community

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pp. 176-212

In her essay “Art in América con Acento,” originally presented as a talk written “on the one-week anniversary of the death of the Nicaraguan Revolution” in 1990, Cherríe Moraga expresses frustration with a world in which the revolutionary dreams of the 1960s have disappeared in the face of middle-class integration.1 ...

Notes

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pp. 213-230

Bibliography

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pp. 231-242

Index

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pp. 243-253

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Author Bio, Series Goal, Back Cover

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pp. 269-271

Jon D. Rossini is an assistant professor in the theater and dance department at the University of California, Davis. He has published essays on Nilo Cruz, David Henry Hwang, and José Rivera in Gestos, the Journal of American Drama and Theatre, and American Drama. ...


E-ISBN-13: 9780809387021
E-ISBN-10: 0809387026
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809328307
Print-ISBN-10: 0809387026

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Theater in the Americas