Sites of resistance: A cross-cultural study of late twentieth-century counterhegemonic theatrical and performance strategies
Segura, Debra A.
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In this cross-cultural study, the author focuses on sites that have historically served as staging grounds for concentrating, displaying and/or broadcasting power--the household, the prison, and the detention and interrogation room--to examine how late twentieth-century theater and performing artists have staged resistance to hegemonic power. In chapter 1, the author reviews the phenomenon of early Tudor household theater and then examines three performance events that she considers as present-day equivalents: Barbara Carlisle's full-length play, Paris Quartet , which she produced as a private salon theater event in her home; Janine Antoni's installation/performance art work, Slumber ; and the marathon dance party extravaganza, Sleaze Ball 1994, which had been held in Sydney, Australia, as a fund-raiser for the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras. In chapter 2, the author examines the representation of the high security prison, Robben Island, in the play The Island co-devised by Athol Fugard, John Kani, and Winston Ntshona. In chapter 3, the author examines the representation of the police detention and interrogation room in the play Accidental Death of an Anarchist by Dario Fo. Through this series of case studies, the author argues that various theatrical and performance practices--such as an environmental theater, the living newspaper, a poor theater, an invisible theater, the anti-tragical, the metatheatrical, and traditional oral and indigenous forms--can be deployed as counterhegemonic strategies, some across cultures, although specific applications can be problematical. Another counterhegemonic strategy entails creating counter-information or counter-narratives to contest the official state narrative, to rewrite history, and to incorporate the people, events and places that have been written out of the standard versions. Recovering memories, facts and stories about a past that has been erased can contribute to implementing utopian ideas about the future. Some such utopian notions of society that the author argues are enacted in these selected cases are alternative notions of restorative justice; a more democratic, egalitarian, and/or communitarian model of society; and the foregrounding of feminist and gay and lesbian concerns and ways of being in the world.