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A Body in the O: Performances and Stories. By Tim Miller. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2019; 157 pp.; illustrations. $19.95 cloth.
Tim Miller's memoir chronicles major works of his performance career, which are intimately linked to pivotal events in queer male US American culture from the 1980s to the present. The solo texts for the stage included in this book have a raw and frenetic sensibility that highlight queer identity amidst the AIDS epidemic, the censorship of the 1990s, the fight for marital equality in California, as well as an underlying desire for sexual expression. The various chapters fold early sexual encounters into activist encounters and filter these experiences through the production of corresponding stage works. Miller writes extensively about his personal life as the context for the production and content of his solo shows; however, beyond a nod to feminist performance, there is a lack of substantial connection between his works and other artists engaged in parallel performance practices or concerns. The style of this memoir, which includes personal snapshots and performance photos, mirrors the tone of Miller's solo performances, prioritizing an intimate form of storytelling embedded in the political intricacies of gay culture.
Impersonations: The Artifice of Brahmin Masculinity in South Indian Dance. By Harshita Mruthinti Kamath. Oakland: University of California Press, 2019; 225 pp.; illustrations. $34.95 paper, e-book available.
Impersonations is a detailed dance ethnography on the Kuchipudi brahmin male tradition of female stage impersonation conducted in Kuchipudi, a village in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The book contains in-depth interviews and photographs of local and global practitioners, as well as careful photographic documentation of temples and performances. The analysis situates the Kuchipudi tradition of female impersonation within queer theory and feminist theories of gender, including culturally reflexive analyses of "passing," "hegemonic masculinities," and "shade" vis-à-vis Paris Is Burning (1990). Throughout the book, Kamath refers to the "three embodied techniques of impersonation: costume (ãhãrya), speech (vãcika), and bodily movement (ãngika)" (58). The final chapter is composed of interviews and conversations with local women who have had experiences learning and performing the traditional [End Page 188] dances, which Kuchipudi traditionalists argue is currently altering the perceived necessity for female impersonation. Kamath seeks to simultaneously highlight an exclusionary performance practice in a remote location and place it in dialogue with international conversations on the performance of gender.
New Postcolonial Dialectics: An Intercultural Comparison of Indian and Nigerian English Plays. By Sarbani Sen Vengadasalam. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2019; 243 pp. £61.99 cloth.
Sarbani Sen Vengadasalam offers a new intercultural dialectical analysis of postcolonial histories and processes of reconciliation in India and Nigeria, through several major English-language plays of the postcolonial period. The comparisons in this book examine the particularities of both countries struggling with the political and linguistic consequences of British colonial rule, and the implications of this for the "intercultural scaffolding" of both nations. Postcolonialism is theorized through the texts of Frantz Fanon, Abdul JanMohamed, and Edward Said, as well as Marxist critiques. New Postcolonial Dialectics concentrates on plays by Nigerian dramatist Wole Soyinka, analyzing the plays The Lion and the...