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Ian Gomez
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Subtitle Insidious

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subtitle Insidious

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Garden of Weeds. "Saved by a Man from Syracuse" might have been the secondary title of this adventure. Betty Compson is the young person and that from which she is saved is a sort of country-club harem. There is an insidious individual who backs theatrical productions and swindles big business men as a relaxation. In his garden, country club, harem, is a variety of unfortunate and very lovely young women who have presumably come there from the various assemblies of his revues. He is just about to scalp another soul (subtitle writers... To continue reading: responsiveAd(className: "subscribe-link",ads: [type: "desktop",size: "142x70",cm: position: "subscribebtn", type: "text",type: "tablet",size: "142x70",cm: position: "subscribebtn", type: "text",// Mobile 300type: "mobile",size: "142x70",config: zone: "219200",site: "28275",size_x: "142", size_y: "70",type: "-1"]); or Log-In

Reviews 473 SUSAN C. HAEDICKE and TOBIN NELLHAUS, eds. Pelforming Democracy: International Perspectives on Urban Community-Based Performance. Theater: Theoryffext/Perfonnance Series. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001. Pp. 346, illustrated. $54.50 (Hb); $24.50 (Pb). Reviewed by'Brian Smith, University ofCalgary The subject of Performing Democracy, as its subtitle foretells, is "communitybased " theatre, viewed in an urban context and from international perspectives . Editors Susan C. Haedicke and Tobin Nellhaus use the tenn "community -based" to describe a large family of perfonnance modalities that might broadly be called "popular." The book begins with a comprehensive introduction that defines the field of study and outlines ways in which the editors have sought to represent it. The rest of the book consists of twenty-three essays by different authors about projects undertaken in Asia, Africa, Australia, the Central Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America. Recognizing the value of both scholarly and practical work, the editors have included a balance of analytical and anecdotal papers and have interposed them according to three unifying foci or thematic emphases: contributions of community-based performance to understandings and practices of community ; representational authority and its connection to creative methodologies; and claims and outcomes, especially those related to ideas of empowennent. Presenting community-based performance as a movement "expanding the boundaries" (I) of art, the editors acknowledge an international body of performance practice that has achieved a maturity assumed to be worthy of celebration and in need of systematic critical inquiry; in short, they seek "to represent the field to itself' (2). Like most good books, Performing Democracy resists singular agendas and explanations. The editors' avowed intention "to broaden understanding about [...] community-based performance work" (2) exposes contradictions and controversies . The least of these is the North American equation of the term "community drama" with amateur theatre production, a semantic problem the expanded tenn "community-based" is intended to circumvent. A more compelling issue is that of the ideological coding of the word "community" and its insidious capacity to mask difference. Calling "community" "arguably the most misused word in contemporary political discourse" (89), Alan Filewod attacks it as an "empty signifier" (89), a position apparently shared by practitioners such as Bruce McConachie and Roadside Theatre Company, who adopt the more politicized tenn "grassroots" to describe procedures of theatremaking often associated with the politics of liberation. Concerns about the meaning of community point to related questions about the purpose of community -based work. The matter of purpose is skilfully dissected in the closing essay of the collection, Mary Ann Hunter's cogent and provocative argument 474 REVIEWS thaI the "'arl form formerly known as' community drama" (327) is moribund in Australia and that approaches to community drama based in essentializing notions of cohesion need to be replaced by practices that disrupt spectacles of celebration in order to galvanize community action. Hunter's essay reminds us that beneath the authored narratives of Performing Democracy and the editorial one about the recent coming-of-age of community-based theatre (described in the opening sentence of the introduction as "now a noticeable undercurrent within performance and activist circles" [I I), there lies a deeper, titanic narrative based in one of the great contrarieties of modern perfonnance theory. I refer to the opposition between the atavistic impulse to celebrate the origins and communal reality of theatre, on the one hand (represented, for example, in the later work of Jacques Copeau), and, on the other, the didactic imperative to manipulate theatre as an instrument of social utility, initiated by Erwin Piscator, adopted by Bertoit Brecht, and inflected again in the liberation politics of Augusto Boal. While Performing Democracy offers Ihe pleasure of many perspectives, it delivers something more: a stimulating counterpoint of voices (those of participant , participant/observer, interpreter, artist, and collaborator, for example) distinguished from one another by their varying degrees of distance from the works described. Furthermore, the adjacency of widely different cultural contexts and performance idioms creates an extraordinary richness of form and tone, energized by frequent jolts of the unusual. I particularly enjoyed Carl Thelin's fascinating expose of the "art parties" (82) of Taichung, in which a communal creative spirit is evoked...

Walter Benn Michaels opens his recent book, OurAmerica: Nativism, Modernism, and Pluralism, with an analysisof the incest theme in William Faulkner's The Sound and theFury, cueing the reader right away that the collective"our" of the title is purchased with some heavy irony.Michaels' provocative opening gambit is that the ReverendShegog's Eucharist sermon, in Faulkner's last chapter, can beread as "repeating and interlacing the twinnedfantasies" (OA, 1) of the novel. The first suchfantasy is social and corresponds to the word nativism inMichaels' subtitle: the Compsons, in different ways, wish theycould sustain their family endogamously, that is, withoutreliance on the legal conventions of kinship that must inevitablyintroduce outsiders to the clan. According to Michaels, thestatements "I have committed incest I said" (Faulkner,95) and "because like I say blood is blood and you can't getaround it" (297) are exemplary, indeed are the apotheoses,of nativist logic as manifested by Quentin and Jason,respectively.

The second fantasy, which corresponds to theword modernism in the subtitle and which always occurs in somerelation to the first, is linguistic: it involves the wish that wordscan become things by functioning"onomotopoetically" outside the in some sense arbitrarysystems of syntax and substitution which govern the way meaningis normally engendered. The pertinent textual analogs here areQuentin's qualifying "I said" in "I have committedincest I said" Benjy's habit of substituting wordsabout his sister for his actual, physical sister. Thus can Shegogbe said said to "twin" the fantasies in question when,having interpellating the congregation as "breddren andsistuhn," he insists in his sermon that the word of God becomesChrist's flesh.

Later on, back at the college, IM sees an opencopy of Freud's Totem and Taboo in Norton's room, and wecome closer to fully grasping the meta-critical, self-reflexivedimensions of Ellison's "argument about the nature ofAmerican reality." It now becomes clear how a subtitle like"Some Points of Agreement Between the Mental Lives ofSavages and Neurotics" has helped Ellison to script a scenein which an "uncivilized savage" and an ostensibly"civilized neurotic" exchange fantasies which are invarious ways "twinned." By locating the incest fantasyalong a racial axis, Ellison manages to suggest that black andwhite, like conscious and unconscious and like "savage"and "neurotic," are "twinned" concepts whichmust be brought and thought together, but the point all along hasbeen to bring nativism into the writerly consciousness; inletting the Truebloods continue endogamously, Ellison reproducesthe nativist symptom indeed, but only, I would contend, in orderto effect a homeopathic cure for a national-literary neurosisWalter Michaels may not have been the first to diagnose.

3. Would Michaels argue that Ellisonianmodels of American culture make the fatal race/culture split hewould abandon as race-sponsored, and that there really is nothing"ironic" about America unless we concede an underlyingracial prescriptivism? But what does Michaels offer in place ofpluralism? To rephrase Nietzsche, might we not conclude that manwould rather have non- or anti-identity than not"identify" at all? Do we "prefer" anincoherent or ironic identity (Ellison) to no identity at all(Michaels)? And do we have a choice--that is, is it possible toabandon identitarianism? Is fallacious ontologic an inherentfeature of language, and, moreover, is the (incoherent) desire toreveal "true" identities the very engine of literature?Why not begin locate the beginnings of this insidious culturallogic Mark Twain's Pudd'n'head Wilson and James FenimoreCooper's The Last of the Mohicans? For that matter, whynot make Oedipus Rex, or Hamlet, or for thatmatter, horoscopes, paradigmatic for the "project" ofidentity?

But Ace can't control the odds when it comes to Ginger McKenna (Sharon Stone), the chip-hustling vamp who charms him and becomes his wife. His infatuation with this glamorous denizen of the gambling room floor turns to obsession as she rises with him to the upper crust of society, then turns to the bottle and pill box for consolation in her gilded cage. Though she has broken through an icy protective layer and found her way into Ace's heart, as the story progresses, his love for Ginger becomes tainted by neurotic impulses and insidious possessiveness. This behavior portends Ace's impending downfall as he falls victim to the sin of pride. 041b061a72


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