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Reviews109 Carruthers and Takahashi have produced the most comprehensive work on Suzuki to date, giving readers the opportunity to vicariouslyexperience Suzuki, and the inspiration to see his work live onstage. Loren Edelson CUNY Graduate Center Gabrielle Griffin. ContemporaryBlackandAsian Women Playwrights in Britain. Cambridge Studies in Modern Theatre. London: Cambridge University Press,2003. Pp. 302.£45.00. Thoughbearingthe string-of-modifiers typeoftitle Cambridge UniversityPress can't seem to avoid when it is putting out books about women dramatists (perhaps a sign that we need several specific volumes instead? Because, really, who would accept a Cambridge Companion to Modern British Male Playwrights7 .),GabrielleGriffin's ContemporaryBlackandAsian Women Playwrights in Britain prevails over its naming and provides strong focus to hold together its study ofthis under-recorded aspect of the British theatrical scene. Griffin's innovation is to import and extend the category and terminology of"diaspora space"crystallized inthe workofsociologistAvtar Brah as the critical and theoretical apparatus uniting her reading ofwriters like Tanika Gupta, Jackie Kay, AmritWilson,Winsome Pinnock,Maya Chowdry, Meera Syal, Jacqueline Rudet, Valerie Mason-John, and several others. Griffin weaves the Cixoudian notion of the entre-deux or the "true inbetween ," and ideas about female time and maternity drawn from Kristeva into herfocus on diaspora,providingherselfwith flexible but rigorous critical tools for mining the layers ofsignification in the plays themselves. As she does this, Griffin solidly develops her argument for diaspora as the preferred conceptual rubric, rejecting categories like postcolonial, intercultural, world theater, and theater ofimmigrants. She rightly declares that she is reading the work ofwriters who all live in Britain and have their work produced there. They are not immigrants and they are postcolonial subjects only insofar as all British people are postcolonial subjects.Moreover,theirtheater speaks most strongly to a modern , British, cosmopolitan context. Griffin's further point, and one well taken, is that, given the patterns of conflict, capital, and interchange that define postmodern society, we—those who have been displaced and those who stay; those who are white and those who are"not"all over the globe—are all diasporic subjects now. 110Comparative Drama Toward that end, her scholarship is a step nearer to displacing a false sense of certainty that can accumulate around the study of late-twentieth-çentury British drama, shaking the sometimes too-easy focus on a few acknowledged titans like Bond, Stoppard, Hare, Churchill, and, occasionally, a few other writers who make the bill of production at the RSC, the RNT, or the Royal Court. But Griffin is in no way trafficking in the arcane. The playwrights she discusses are or have been active in Britain's vital alternative theater scene over the past thirty years, many working with pioneering and long-lived companies which I describe in my own research as"alternative institutions"like TaraArts,Women's Theatre Group/The Sphinx,GaySweatshop,KaliTheatreCompany,Clean Break, and others. Some of these playwrights have also seen their work produced on the stages of Britain's major houses. Moreover, their increasing presence and success reflects the social realityofmultiethnic Britain in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, so to look at these artists is both to acknowledge Britain's lived diversityand to accord scholarlyattention to contemporary theater as it is being produced. These are great virtues ofthe study, as is Griffin's selection ofexamples that range across thel980s, 1990s,andbeyond, as well as across venues and types oftheater,without sidelining or elevating particular moments or styles above others because oftheir mainstream or nonmainstream status or avowed or implied political positions. Further, Griffin's use of diaspora for a theoretical framework provides a compelling argument that the work ofBlack and Asian women holds purchase on the universality that for so long defined "great" drama. As we all come to understand ourselves as diasporic subjects, Griffin suggests that we can relate to the heightened displacement and alienation experienced by Black and Asian women in Britain because thejourneys that create diaspora mirror the psychological journeys human beings take as they move from childhood to adulthood . Griffin writes that"diasporic experience, the actual movement from one location to another, from one culture to another, has affinities with the exodus from childhood into adulthood, installing in the diasporized...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 109-112
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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