Staging Nationalism

Essays on Theatre and National Identity

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About the Book

When a nation wants to reconnect with a sense of national identity, its cultural celebrations, including its theatre, are often tinged with nostalgia for a cultural high point in its history. Leaders often try to create a “neo-classical” cultural identity. Artificially returning to an imagined pinnacle, however, can fail to take into account new aspects of national identity, such as the infusion of other cultures and languages. This collection of essays discusses the relationship between political power and the construction or subversion of cultural identity.
The collection takes a wide historical perspective from distinct periods and cultures from all over the world. A few of the topics examined include how theatre in 18th century Poland tried to reconstitute the identity of an imagined classical heritage clung to by Polish nobles; how festival practices during the French Revolution tried to give meaning to recent events and rein in anxiety about split loyalties; how Athenian prologues cemented early American culture; how romantic admiration of peasant culture spread from Germany throughout Europe; how Greek tragedy in postwar Japan reflects the conflict of Japan’s imposed identity as a Western-style democracy with its prewar identity as a samurai nation; and how Mexican archeological performance links the indigenous past with a post-revolutionary identity as a mixed race country.

About the Author(s)

Kiki Gounaridou teaches theatre history and theory in the Department of Theatre at Smith College. She has published articles, books, and reviews on theatre. An award-winning theatre director, she lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Kiki Gounaridou
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 243
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2005
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2204-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0825-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Theatre and Nationalism: Introductory Remarks and Acknowledgments      1

Reconstructing the Nation: Conflicting Cultural Imaginaries in Eighteenth-Century Poland      11

Celebrating the Revolution While the King Is Still on the Throne: The Fall of the Bastille and the Festival of Federation (July 1790)      32

Athenian Prologue to an American Theatre      48

Herder and European Theatre      63

Historical Avant-Garde Performance and Japanese Nationalism      86

Remembering and Forgetting: Greek Tragedy as National History in Postwar Japan      126

The Critical Absence of Indonesia in W.S. Rendra’s Village      141

Robert Lepage: Product of Québec?      167

Staging the Nation on the Ruins of the Past: An Investigation of Mexican Archeological Performance      186

The Corpse of Algerian Identity: Achour Ouamara’s La Défunte (The Deceased)      211

About the Contributors      229

Index      233

Book Reviews & Awards

“well written…recommended”—Choice; “Expertly edited…an extremely well-edited and written volume”—Text & Presentation.