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158 Western American Literature symptom, is beginning to emerge. Barnett’s solid research here considerably helps to further this much needed reestimation. The book’s unfortunate and eye-catching price may ensure that you would consider ordering this item for your school’s library, but not for your own study. PATRICK D. MORROW, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand New Native American Drama: Three Plays. By Hanay Geiogamah. (Nor­ man: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980. 133 pages, $4.95.) Historically, plays about Indians and Indian life such as Robert Rogers’ Ponteach, or the Savages of America (1766) and J. N. Barker’s The Indian Princess; or La Belle Sauvage (1808) did little to illuminate Indian culture. And as a major character within drama, the Indian’s life on the stage was short-lived. By the 1830’s, Indian drama had reached its height of popularity with Edwin Forrest in the title role of John Augustus Stone’s Metamora, or the Last of the Wampanoags. Indian writers have, for the most part, avoided drama and centered their talents on poetry and prose. Consequently, Hanay Geiogamah’s New Native American Drama: Three Plays is timely and welcome. Whereas the earlier plays perpetuated stereotypes and burdened the stage with the accoutrements of Indian life, Geiogamah creates full characters and inte­ grates native song, dance, ceremony, and philosophy within the drama. While the quality of “Body Indian,” Foghorn,” and “49” varies, they repre­ sent one of the first attempts to create an Indian reality for the stage. Of the three plays, “Foghorn” is the weakest. The play consists of eleven scenes or vignettes that depict a variety of attitudes, stereotypes, and misconceptions with which Indian people have had to deal. “Foghorn” is supposed to be a satire and while there are moments where the dialogue is crisp, the bulk of the play is heavyhanded and constantly on the verge of slapstick. Geiogamah seems unsure of his ability with satire and overwrites in an apparent bid to create laughs. “49,” Geiogamah’s most complex and ambitious play, is a far cry from “Foghorn.” Using the setting of a 49, Geiogamah discusses the strengths of tribalism and the relationship of the traditional past to the present and to the future. The drama is held together by a narrator called Night Walker who represents the traditional past. It is through Night Walker that Geiogamah reminds the people gathered at the 49 that the strength of Indian people comes, not from a return to the past, but from a physical and spiritual binding together. Reviews 159 Geiogamah’s use of light and visuals and the integrating of native song and ceremony within the drama are particularly effective. The play’s only problems are Night Walker’s monologues which tend to be didactic and lengthy. It is unfortunate since the play is well crafted and tends to work best when the dialogue is limited to the needs of the actors and the situation. “Body Indian” presents Geiogamah’s talents at their best. The play follows the efforts of Bobby Lee, a crippled alcoholic who has just received his lease money and is on his way to enroll in an alcohol rehabilitation pro­ gram. He stops off to see some friends who eventually steal the money and spend it on liquor. But “Body Indian” is not about temperance. It concerns itself with the complex relationships that Indians share. Bobby’s friends are his strength and his destruction. They provide a closeness that is both warm and genuine. At the same time, they are able to justify the theft of his money even though it leaves him as broke and destitute as themselves. Geiogamah’s handling of these conflicting themes is extraordinary. He skillfully suggests that while the drinking and the stealing are destructive, they are also forms of a ritualistic sharing, a sharing that helps to maintain humor and kinship in the face of despair. New Native American Drama: Three Plays presents a wide range of theater. While Geiogamah’s control is not always firm, his knowledge of Indian culture is extensive and his insights into contemporary Indian life are profound. TOM KING, The University of Lethbridge Woman Poet. Edited...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 158-159
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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