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300Comparative Drama mously—e.g.. identifying Nuyorrican or Puerto Rican theater in the U.S. merely as "Puerto Rican." The author also erroneously refers to Manuel Méndez Ballester's novel Isla Cerrera as a play. These minor objections notwithstanding, El teatro mexicano en cierne is a valuable and significant contribution to the study of Mexican theater. Schmidhuber 's analysis re-evaluates the foundations of Mexican theater and incorporates important documents and new information related to the different theater groups and dramatists. In addition, he provides a concise summary of various plays that are unknown to many readers. This study serves as an excellent sequel to Alyce de Kuehne's Teatro mexicano contemporáneo (1940-1962) and to Ronald D. Burgess' The New Dramatists of Mexico 1967-1985. LAURIETZ SEDA Worcester Polytechnic Institute Errol Hill. 77¡t> Jamaican Stage 1655-1900: Profile of a Colonial Theatre. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1992. Pp. xiv + 346. $30.00. Hill's well-documented and well-written study of theatricals in Jamaica will be of immense interest to North American readers for several reasons. The beginnings of amateur and professional theater in Jamaica resemble those in North America. Many of the companies which visited the United States and Canada also toured the Caribbean, and some of them sought shelter in the West Indies when the Continental Congress banned dramatic performances in the U.S. The most fascinating part of Hill's book deals with the lack of cultural entertainment for the slaves and their persistent attempts to create their own forms of amusement despite legal prohibitions. They were not allowed to participate in the music and dance and theater of the white settlers, instead evolving their traditions in secret and modifying their language for use in drama. Derek Walcott's plays form the climax of Hill's story, even though he gives only a brief outline of artistic developments in theater in the twentieth century. The highlights of Hill's narrative relate to the exclusion of blacks from any culture and their isolation from legitimate theatricals provided by touring groups. In a sense the Jamaican achievement in playwriting fulfills Bernard Shaw's prophecy cited by Hill. Instead of sending individuals to Europe to acquire some culture. Shaw underlined the role of independence and sovereignty in one's culture: "The next thing you want is a theatre, with all the ordinary travelling companies from England and America sternly kept out of it, for unless you do your own acting and write your own plays, your theatre will be of no use: it will, in fact, vulgarise and degrade you" (p. 3). Relying on their own initiative to Reviews30 1 entertain themselves, the slaves had to defy official restrictions and take personal risks to cultivate their music, dance, and theater. The white settlers imported their culture, but the blacks nurtured their own, never to be dominated by whites. (Derek Walcott has dramatized the complexities of this relationship between whites and blacks with compassion and humor in numerous plays.) In his first two hundred pages. Hill describes white theaters of the slave era, post-emancipation theaters, the travails and triumphs of professional and amateur players and their repertory, the first playwrights, and the significance of readers, reciters, and storytellers in the island's culture. The primary objective of this theater was "to transfer the Western European theatre tradition to an English-owned colony in the West Indies. The theatres built, the plays acted in them, the style of performance , even the original dramas written for production were all strongly influenced by that tradition" (p. 10). The Jamaicans could not take part in any aspect of this theater; their past was also pejoratively equated with "pagan African ways that had to be eradicated once freedom was achieved" (p. 1 1 ). The blacks were presumed to be capable of only hard labor in the plantations and nothing else. Hill describes in detail the attempts of blacks to amuse themselves through "various performance-oriented activities": "They played music on percussion instruments devised by themselves or on fiddles and flutes provided by their masters. They improvised songs of praise and derision as they had done in their African homeland and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 300-302
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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