restricted access Conclusion: So Go the Ghosts of . . .
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195 Conclusion So Go the Ghosts of . . . But this is a course on Religions of the World, and even though I have tenure now, I don’t need any of you writing your evaluations about how I always talk about politics. But the war on drugs is about death and religion begins with death. So here’s your assignment, don’t leave without hearing your assignment. I want you to write two pages about how war remakes death. What do I mean? Think about the ways in which the current crisis is remaking death—­ how are the victims of this drug war being mourned? How are the missing buried? Who gets mourned? In the current war, who deserves to die? —­Profesor(a) Alonso, Ramses contra los monstruos1 Over the course of this book, I have considered how Latinx playwrights have exposed the violence of neoliberalism throughout the hemisphere. Their painstaking thick descriptions of the transnational transit of bodies and goods reveal the ways in which economic violence affects the quotidian lives of citizens of the Americas. In many ways the playwrights whose works I have considered here have done exactly what Cazares describes above: they have “remade death” by staging it with overtly theatrical means. In doing so, Latinx playwrights have rallied against the naturalization of the condition that Rebecca Schneider calls “  ‘late-​ late’ capitalism” and the obfuscation of violence in which proponents of its methods engage.2 Certainly, these conditions affect almost everyone in the hemisphere. Yet there has been a special toll paid by indigenous, poor, female, queer, and gender-​ nonconforming people who have not instantiated themselves within capitalist regimes of resource and capital accumulation. There have been dire consequences for those who have dared to speak out, or at least not silenced themselves, in the face of neoliberal death machines. Many of these brave souls, in the scheme of things, in being destroyed, have become less than persons. They have been transformed into bodies that do not matter. Latinx plays render these conditions apparent in visceral and explosive ways. The ways in which 196 Conclusion the playwrights construct their critiques through theatrical means, making a bold contribution to thinking neoliberalism and the future of political subjectivity , is more interesting than the accuracy of their descriptions of current conditions. First and foremost, Latinx playwrights have rendered those injured or killed by neoliberal economic violence present in a society which tries to obliterate them. Some playwrights have done this literally, by materializing the dead onstage as characters that refuse to exit, embodied by actors who stubbornly remain, despite their nonliving condition. Consider Amelia’s refusal to bury her daughter Chema, first dragging her dead body around the stage and then seeking revenge by threatening to murder the former president of Mexico. Although Chema eventually jumps into the cauldron below the stage to acquit her soul of the earth, she does so on her own terms. And we know that things can return from under the floorboards. A trapdoor always has the possibility of opening again. The very exposure of the trapdoor as a trapdoor—­ there was no obfuscation of its theatrical mechanics in the 2013 production—­ makes us aware that Cazares is overtly using theatricality to critique violence as a mode of representation without material consequences. In contrast, he shows the materiality of violence in theater. Chema’s obsolescence is met by that of La Barbie and Lidia, who literally unzip themselves from body bags after Ramses drags the bags, with the full weight of the actors in them, onstage. Raising the dead raises the possibility of violence being forgotten. That the audience experiences the actor’s labor in lifting these bags is also important, making their corporeality real for the audience. In contrast to his failed attempts to dematerialize the fallen with acid, Ramses’s struggle to drag bodies shows the difficulty of making the world forget, exposing the burden of death on our societies.Watching Ramses work does not allow us to dismiss the presence of the dead, or their weight in the world. Olmos, in contrast, gestures to ghosts who can’t enter the stage—­ making them a present absence on stage. The impossibility of their entrance is made manifest through sound rather than obsolescent actors. Nonetheless, like Cazares, he questions the border between the living and the dead. By engaging the analogue possibilities of sound design, Olmos rejects a clean line between diegetic and nondiegetic sound as a mode of disturbing the line between the...


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