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Latin American Research Review 42.2 (2007) 238-252

The Patriarchy Problem
Sexism, Homophobia, and the Many Faces of Transgression to Normative Representations of Difference
Reviewed by
Beatriz J. Rizk
International Hispanic Theatre Festival of Miami
Tentative Transgressions: Homosexuality, Aids, And The Theater In Brazil. By Severino J. Albuquerque. (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003. Pp. xiii+255. $29.95 paper.)
Teatro De Cabaret: Imaginarios Disidentes. By Gastón A. Alzate. (Irving, CA: Ediciones de Gestos, 2002. Pp. 160. $17.50 paper.)
Teatro Contemporáneo Judeoargentino: Una Perspectiva Feminista Bíblica. By Matilde Raquel Holte. (Buenos Aires: Ensayos, 2004. Pp. 212.)
Latin American Women On/In Stages. By Margot Milleret. (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004. Pp. x+263. $45.00 cloth.)
Holy Terrors: Latin American Women Perform. Edited by Diana Taylor and Roselyn Costantino. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003. Pp. 464. $84.95 cloth, $23.95 paper.)

As several literary, social science, history, and cultural studies specialists have noted,1 current interest in Latin American gender issues has resulted in a proliferation of research and scholarly publications, as can be evidenced in the catalogs of university presses, as well as programs of recent academic conferences and symposia practically all over the Western world.2 The five books under review attest to this [End Page 238] dynamic impulse as they display an array of diverse methodologies used to approach the state of gender relations as represented in the region's theater and performing arts in order not only to analyze it but also to undermine, if possible, the still very active patriarchy. One of the key factors scholars continue to question, deconstruct, and rewrite is women's role in society. Both Margo Milleret's Latin American Women on/in Stages, and Matilde Raquel Holte's Teatro contemporáneo judeoargentino: Una perspectiva feminista bíblica address this concern from different perspectives. Milleret covers women's entire journey through life as a process, presenting a variegated repertory of roles they have created in response to the wants of an also evolving society as seen "on/in" Latin American stages, while Holte explores the evolution of Jewish Argentine women characters as the social tension escalates between inherited tradition and the need to change.

Milleret approaches her material armed with a sound theoretical structure that includes concepts such as Michael Issacharoff's "mimetic" versus "diegetic" spaces (1981); Judith Butler's concept of gender as performance (1981); Jenijoy LaBelle's notion of the "self" not as "an entity but as an activity, a continual process" (1988); and Susan Suleiman's "patriarchal model (1981),"3 among others. From the initial 120 plays Milleret collected for her research, mostly by urban playwrights from seven Latin American countries (with Argentina in the forefront, followed by Mexico, Brazil, and Venezuela), she chose twenty–four, organizing them thematically into three chapters. The first focuses on the couple and their habitat, traditionally represented by the "home," but sometimes metaphorically transformed into a comfortable "refuge" for men and a "prison" for women. Milleret explores women's behavior, ranging from subdued and trapped protagonists to feisty characters that openly battle patriarchal law and order. One of the plays, Roda cor de roda (The Circle Game, 1975), by Brazilian Leila Assumçao, concentrates on the recycling of relationships among the typical love triangle (husband, wife, and mistress) wherein the roles of wife and mistress are inverted, proposing a nonsanctioned family arrangement. Provocative at the time of its writing, Roda has been acknowledged as one "of the reasons behind changes to Brazil's constitution to improve women's status" (221).

In the second chapter, Milleret concentrates on the less visited relationships between mothers and daughters. She attributes their absence, especially in the theater arts, to the "protected and enshrined status" mothers enjoy (88). As the daughters reach adulthood, many try to reconnect with their mothers after becoming painfully aware of the socially determinant double nature of the latter's child-rearing techniques. As [End Page 239] to the...


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