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Reviewed by:
  • Trans/Acting Latin American and Latino Performing Arts
  • Melissa Fitch
Seda, Laurietz, and Jacqueline Bixler, eds. Trans/Acting Latin American and Latino Performing Arts. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell UP, 2009: 266 pp.

This collection of critical essays — part of the Bucknell Studies in Latin American Literature and Theories Series, edited by Aníbal González — is centered on transculturation. The contributions were originally presented by the authors at the VI Conference on Latin American Theater Today in 2005, and they all loosely converge around the theme of border crossings. To wit, the tome begins with a quote by performance artist Guillermo Gómez Peña, "All Americans (from the vast continent America) were, are, or will be border crossers." The borders crossed by the compilation are many. Among them, the inclusion of Latino Theater and performances placed alongside studies of plays and performances done in Latin America. Seda's introductory essay on "The Art of Living 'In Between'" captures the spirit of the collection well, explaining that all contributors were asked to consider the various meanings of the prefix "trans" in their essays because, as Seda explains, "Processes of globalization have transformed the planet into a transnational world." The socioeconomic transformations have had a considerable impact on all aspects of culture, leading us to the next essay that frames the collection, a historical overview on transformation and transculturation in twentieth-century Latin American Theater, written by longtime Latin American Theatre Review editor George Woodyard. The essay is exceptional for both its breadth and depth, and leaves the reader well equipped to journey into the tome's next section, encompassed by twelve studies. Stevens examines the issue of race in the play Parece blanca by the Cuban author Abelardo Estorino. Mexican playwright Sabina Berman is the focus of two essays, [End Page 185] one by Bixler, who discusses how her "tradaptation" of an Irish play enabled it to be understood as a critique of globalization. The other, by Gladhart, shows how perceptions are "transferred, negotiated and reinvented" in the Feliz nuevo siglo, Doktor Freud. Day explores how Mexican playwright Vicente Leñero's two professions, that of playwright and journalist, both informed each other. Alzate analyzes how the lyrics and the stage presence of Mexican singer Paquita la del Barrio serve to undermine the country's culture of masculinity. Scholars Bulman, Magnarelli and Boling analyze plays by Argentines Rafael Spregelburd, Patricia Suárez and Susana Torres Molina, respectively. Bulman examines how Spregelburd used the Bosch painting The Seven Deadly Sins as a source of inspiration for seven plays, and how the painting's meaning was transformed in the process. Magnarelli, meanwhile, examines the use of imaginary and concrete space in Suárez's Las Polacas. Boling discusses the actress's performance of masculinity and the representation of gender in Torres Molina's, Y otra cosa, mariposa. Misemer examines two plays by Uruguayan Gabriel Peveroni, showing how the playwright uses space to convey his country's uncertain role in the new global order. Meanwhile, Irizarry's essay, "Latino Stand up and The Original Latin Kings of Comedy," focuses on how self-deprecating humor can serve a transgressive function. García looks at the playful treatment of transnational queer sexuality found in Guillermo Reyes's Deporting the Divas showing how the playwright presents the borderlands as a fluid space of hybrid identities. To close, editor Seda contributes "Guillermo Gómez-Peña's: Search for a Singular Plural Community." As an added treat, the book ends with a performance script by the radical provocateur himself, "Mexiterminator vs. The Global Predator." Thus the reader is led from an understanding of the topic of transculturation in the first two essays, to reading numerous examples of ways in which the topic has been applied to theater and performance, and, finally, to directly engaging a performance text, unmediated by a scholar. In this way the book provides a highly original intellectual experience for the reader. Seda and Bixler did an excellent job of selecting well-written, thought-provoking, and well-argued analyses for inclusion. One curious omission is any theater study related to Brazil, given that it is Latin America's largest and most populous country...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2161-0576
Print ISSN
0023-8813
Pages
pp. 185-186
Launched on MUSE
2011-04-26
Open Access
No
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