Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Editorial notes
 Caribbean drama and performance:...
 Peter Schumann and the Bread and...
 Machurrucutu y el humo de...
 Dancing with Mr. Hesketh: Jean...
 Theater of friction: new currents...
 Humour in Cuban community...
 The American experience in Puerto...
 Elements of the absurd in Jose...
 Two can play and School's out:...
 Journal exchange
 Notes on contributors
 Back Matter
 Back Cover

Group Title: Sargasso (Río Piedras, San Juan, P.R.)
Title: Sargasso
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00096005/00006
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Title: Sargasso
Uniform Title: Sargasso (Río Piedras, San Juan, P.R.)
Alternate Title: Sargazo
Abbreviated Title: Sargasso (Río Piedras San Juan P. R.)
Physical Description: v. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: University of Puerto Rico (Ri´o Piedras Campus) -- Dept. of English
University of Puerto Rico (Río Piedras Campus) -- Dept. of English
Publisher: s.n.
Place of Publication: Ri´o Piedras P.R
Río Piedras P.R
Publication Date: 1984-
Copyright Date: 1986
Frequency: twice a year[2002-]
two no. a year[ former 1984]
irregular[ former <1987>-2001]
Subject: Caribbean literature -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Caribbean literature -- History and criticism -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Puerto Rican literature -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Puerto Rican literature -- History and criticism -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Genre: review   ( marcgt )
periodical   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Puerto Rico
Additional Physical Form: Also issued online.
Language: Chiefly English, with some French and Spanish.
Dates or Sequential Designation: Vol. 1, no. 1-no. 10 (2000) ; 2001-
Numbering Peculiarities: Volume designation dropped with no. 3; issue for 2001 lacks numbering; issues for 2002- called 2002, 1-
Issuing Body: Edited by the faculty and graduate students of the English Dept., University of Puerto Rico.
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issn - 1060-5533
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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Table of Contents
        Table of Contents
    Editorial notes
        Page i
    Caribbean drama and performance: Editorial essay
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
    Peter Schumann and the Bread and Puppet Theater in Puerto Rico
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
    Machurrucutu y el humo de la memoria
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
    Dancing with Mr. Hesketh: Jean Rhys, Dominica, and the last of the Caribs
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
    Theater of friction: new currents in Puerto Rican theater
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
    Humour in Cuban community theater
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
    The American experience in Puerto Rican drama
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
    Elements of the absurd in Jose Triana's Medea en el espejo
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
    Two can play and School's out: tek bad tings mek laugh
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
    Journal exchange
        Page 69
    Notes on contributors
        Page 70
    Back Matter
        Page 71
        Page 72
    Back Cover
        Page 73
        Page 74
Full Text

s a r g a z o


Cultural Studies


What is Caribbean Theater?
Machurrucutu: el primer taller de la
Escuela Internacional de Teatro
de Amnrica Latina y el Caribe
Jean Rhys, Dominica, and the Last of
the Caribs
New Currents in Puerto Rican Theater
Humour in Cuban Community Theatre
Puerto Rican/American Drama
The Absurd in Jose Triana's 4
Medea en elespe jo"'
Tek Bad Tings Mek Laugh:
Trevor Rhone's "Comedies"
Plus: Book and Play Reviews

Sargasso 7 (1990)

Caribbean Theater

argasso, an independent journal of art, literature, and culture edited at the University of Puerto
Rico, publishes critical essays, interviews, book, play, and film reviews, and some poems and short
stories. Sargasso particularly welcomes material written by the people of the Caibbean and/or
about the Caribbean. Future issues will increasingly reflect the editors' interests in cultural analysis,
theater, and film in Caribbean and nco/post-colonial contexts.

Sargasso strives to make current studies in art, literature, and culture accessible to non-specalists.
The prose should be clear, lively, and understandable to those not among the initiate. Essays and
critical studies should conform to the style of the MLA Handbook. Short stories should be no more
than 2,500 words in length, and poems should be kept to no more than twenty to thirty lines. All
correspondence must include SA.S.E.

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 22831
University of Puerto Rico Station
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00931-2831

Editorial Committee

Lowell ot, Editor
Madra Cristina Roddguez, Co-Editor
Ada Haiman, Co-Editor (on-leave)


Aileene Alvarez, Librarian; Translator
Luis Pomales, Consultant
Nalini Natarajan, Consultant
Maria Soledad Rodriguez, Consultant
Heidi J. Figueroa, Consultant
Vivian Otero, Translator
Aracelis Roddiguz, Consultant
Julio Garcfa, Graphics
Angel D. Rivera, Technical Assistance

Special thanks to Ms. Olga Rivera and the staff of the UPR Copy Center in the Office of the Dean of
Administration and to Dr. Eduardo Rivera Medina, Dean of Academic Affairs at the University f
Puerto Rico, for assistance in facilitating the publication of this issue of Sargasso.

Sargaso is published by Tdlmag, t-t-p, Inc., a nonprofit arts and performnnance collective, with
a aisitaf e from the offices of the Dean f Academic Affairs and the Dean of Administration of the
University of Puerto Rico, Rio Pildras, Puerto Rico.

Opinions and views expressed in Sargasso are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily
shared by Sargasso's Editorial Conunittee. Copies of Sargasso 7 (1990), as well as previous
issues, are on deposit in the Lilbary of Congress.

Copyright 0 1991
The photo on the cover of SARGASSO 7 (1990) is by Ricardo Alcaraz and aiginally appeared in
Diilogo Mayoo 1989): 26.

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

Editorial Notes and Eugenio Maria de Hostos .............. i

"Caribbean Drama and Performance: Editorial Essay,"
Low ell Fiet ............................... 1

(Interview) "Peter Schumann and the Bread and Puppet
Theater in Puerto Rico ....................... 4

Rosa Luisa MArquez, "Machurrucutu y el humo de la memorial"
(Informe sobre el Primer Taller de la Escuela
International de Am6rica Latina y el Caribe) ......... 14

Peter Hulme, "Dancing with Mr. Hesketh: Jean Rhys,
Domniica. and the Last of the Caribs"........ .... 18 /

Rosalina Perales, 'Theater of Friction: New Currents in
Puerto Rican Theater" .................... 27

Joseph R. Pereira, "Humour in Cuban Communitv Theatre".... 33'

John V. Antush, 'The American Experience in Puerto Rican
Drama/fhe Puerto Rico Experience in American Drama" 40

Alan Persico, "Elements of the Absurd in Jos6 Triana's Medea
en elespejo ............................... 45

Hyacinth Simpson, "Two Can Play and School's Out: Tek Bad
Tings Mek Laugh" ....................... 52
Nalmi Natarajan; Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid ............... . 58

Michael Sharp: Loggerhead by Gloria Escoffery, A Tale from
the Rainforest by Edward Baugh, Journey Poem by
Pamela Mordecai. and Strategi by Dennis Scott ...... 59

Maria Soledad Rodriguez: Her True-True Name: An Anthology
of Women's Writing from the Caribbean edited by
Pamela Mordecai and Betty Wilson ............ 62

Naluu Natarajan: Caribbean New Wave: Contemporary Short
Stories selected by Stewart Brown ................ 65

Michael Sharp: Lugard's Bridge by Stewart Brown .......... 66

Lowell Fiet: "BREAD AND PUPPET: La estftica de la lentitud
o se detiene 'la movida'" ..................... 67

Journal Exchange .............,.......... 69
Notes on Contributors ...................... 70
Table of Contents SARGASSO 6 (1989) .......... 71




Editorial Notes

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater reveals anew formatandnew directions.
&argaz and Sargas appear along with "Sargasso" on the newly designed cover and indicate the
willingness to receive and publish materials in English, Spanish, and French. The current issue
reinforces that idea by including one article and one review in Spanish. Furthermore, Sargasso's
unique contribution as a Caribbean journal is better defined by its changed subtitle: cultural studies,
theater, and film. The change records the impact of new (inter)discidplinary and/or theoretical
formulations such as neo/post-colonialismn, feminism, performance studies, and cultural studies as
well as the academic interests of the editors. However, we will continue to mead and publish literary
and linguistic studies, book reviews, translations, short fiction, and poetry.

Eugenio Maria de Hostos (1839-1903)

"If you sail northward from the southern tip of South America, keeping dose to its eastern
coast, you can see the shorelines of Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and the three Ouyanas, until you
reach the mouth of the magnificent Orinoco. If you then sail northeast, you will soon come to a green
island cradled by the waves of a green sea. The island is Trinidad, one of the Lesser Antilles. The
sea is the Mediterranean of the New World, destined, as was the Mediterranean of ancient times, to
be the rocking path of all the ideas and all the advancements of a new humankindn.

TIhe Antillean or Caribbean Sea, the sea of Columbus... is home of two groups of islands
.... In days to comes, these islands will be the Greece of the New Continent

"One of the two groups, smaller in the size of its islands, larger in the number of islands,
begins with Trinidad. It includes the English, French, and Danish Antilles, forming a half-circle that
reaches in a fraternal embrace linking Venezuela, at the top of South America, to Puerto Rico, Haiti,
Santo Domingo, Jamaica, and Cuba, at the heart of the whole continent

"The Greater Antilles begin whee the smaller ones end. There are four of them, positioned
at right angles to the American isthmus and growing in scale from East to West.

"The easternmost island is Puerto Rico, as the greedy Spaniards have named her. Borinquen
is what the native people called her, and what we iollos like to call her. Cuba is the farthest west,
and between the two lies the glorious Haiti-Santo Domingo, and facing her, to the South, lies
Jamaica. A golden sea laps at the feet of all these islands .... They are graced by the most luxuriant
and magnificent vegetation, sheltered by the cleanest, purest, and most amiable sky, and purified by
the most fragrant atmosphere and the most intoxicating and delightful breeze your lungs can take in."

From "Cuba and Puerto Rico," Revista de Santiago [Chile], 1 May 1872.
Translated by Vivian Otero.

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

Caribbean Drama and Performance:
Editorial Essay

What is Cdibben theater? Are the
region's plays and performances sufficiently
diffeet from those of the metropolitan
culture which have, at least partially,
contributed to their design and purpose to
merit separate consideration? Is there a way
of examining dramatic texts and productions
that both accounts for and transcends the
perception of differed in language, ethnic
heritage, social structure, and colonial history
that seems to separate the island societies of
the Caribbean? On what kind of critical and
ethetic notions should such an examination
be baed? These strike me as fundamental
questions that the comparative study of
contemporary Caribbem dUear has to
address. For, in fact, the differences am
many. The distances between each major
language and/or cultural grouping-English-
speaking versus Hispanic islands, for
example-appear unbridgeable, and inside
each group, and even inside each island
society, the variety that characterizes so much
of Caribbean life also informs its creativity
and theatricality. Yet, when carefully
observed, fhes differences frequently reveal
themselves to be variations on the same
themes perhapss "the island that repeats itself"
of Antonio Benftez Rojo's depiction), and
even a variant as significant as language
betrays fundamental coespondences in its
use and development.
The fagmentation of life and culture
that militates against a regional idea of
Caribbean theater gives rise to an even more
basic question: what does Caribbean mean?-
that is, what is "Caribbbean" as opposed to
West Indian (either fonnmer British, French, or
Dutch), Latin or Central Ameican (as Cuba,
the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico are
often viewed), or even, recording the growing
North American influence in te region, Afro-
American or Hispanic?
The dee to view dre Caribbean as a
diversified but ultimately unified geopolitical
area is more than a romantic daydream or an
academic cliche; in fact, the region's cilective
cdanacte is so frequiny ovedooled that it
merits emphasis. Pan-Caribbean thought was

bom in the work of ninmleenoaenmtry writers
suc as Puerto Ricans Ramdn Emtnario
Betanwos and Egemio Mara de Hostos and
Cuban Joe6 Mart, all of whom recognized
that moving beyond national independence to
some form of regional interdependence was
necessary if the area's island societies were to
withstand colonial and noo-colonial
domination and attain more than more "flag"
indedece (Hodge 17). More recently,
G K. Lewis (1983) ha rearticulated the
"distinctive and idiosyncratic diaractistics"
of the geographical and historical region that
extads from the Bahamas in he north to
Trinidad in the south and Guyana, Suriname,
and French Ouiuma-"islands in every way
exet the strictly physical seme"-on the
oa Amedcan coninent, from Barbados in
the east to e western tip of Cuba and
southwest to Belize in C=al Ameica.
According to Lewis,

All of its member societies,
not withstanding their own
individuality... have been shaped
throughoxutby fithe same
architectonic forces of conquest,
colonization, slavery, sugar
monoculture, colonialism, and racial
and comic admixtme. All
of their characteristic problems,
lasting into the period of the
priest day-poverty, persistent
unemployment, underdeelopment,
economic dependency, social rivalries
and ethnic animosities, weak personal
and social identity, political
fragmentation, and the rest-have their
roots in that very background. (3)

In that analysis, the leading features that
justify ihe concept of a collective sodoculmral
character" distinct from that of North, Central,
or South Ameican neighbors are (A)
artificially created European colonies peopled
by forced migration-mainly slaves and
indentmed workers-after be eady exhaustion
and virtual decimation of the native
Amerindian population, (B) slavery and the
plantation economy with their defining
diaracteiStica of profit motive, slave-mater
mentality, and negrophobia-the "Caribban
correlation between color and dams"-and (C)

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

the "coexistence of sex and slavery," which
begins with the exploitation of the enslaved
female and results in the pmeent Creole culture
still so strongly mediated by factors of race,
class, and gender.
Within the "idiosyncratic" geopolitical
character of Caribbean society, theater is both
very old and very nw: on the one hand, it is
as old as Anieindia customs and the
surviving cremonices and rituals brought from
Africa, Europe, and As, a old as the desire
to imitate and represent the other, and on the
other hand, it is as new as the most recent
socal and political events and conditions that
affect the nearly 30 million inhabitants of the
Composed of over 50 ex-colonies,
colonies, dpar n and "associated"
states, the Caribbean's cultural identity
continues to be diaraclenzed by aeolization
and reflects all the specificities friction
between First and Third World values, social
and economic structures, and technologies. In
that process, formal theater has a
"Eurocentric" history but no real tradition.
For four centimes or more, plays were
performed for an audience of the colonial elite.
In Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican
Republic, and Haiti, such performances date
nearly to the "discovery" and are meticulously
documented. Although less numerous,
colonial perfounancs in English, Dutch, and
Danish also form part of tat history. Plays
about Caribbean life, consciously conceived
by local artists and perfouned for a Caribbean
audience, came into being only in the second
half of the ninteenth century. But hose early
productions woe usually derivative of
standard and/or already outmoded European
styles and techniques. Parallel to he colonial,
Euroentric theater, another kind of
performance existed that was at once far older
and more vital and extensive the popular oral
"plays," spectacles, ceremonies, and rituals of
the majority peasant, African, and/or non-
European population. Those
anthropological" or folk theater forms, like
their counterparts in music, dance, and oral
expression, still exist, and the uniqueness of
the Cazibbbean theater of the 1970s and
1980s, in large measure, depends on the
incorportation of popular and folk traditions
into experimental forms.

The development of the idea of theatr
as a viable form of artistic expreon is a
recent one and, like parallel literary
movements, cowespmds in large part to the
mergene of nationalist and/or independence
movements in e ninetenth century and
particular in t twentieth century. Even
more iman with literature, however, the
colonial history of the Caribbean and its
political and linguistic framuentation have
meot that theater has existed in isolation in
each island society. For example, the theater
of ae Dominican Republic is virtually
unknown in neighboring Puerto Rico and
Cuba, and vice versa, even though all three
societies form part the same greater
Antillean chain and share a common language
and colonial heritage. The case is somewhat
improved in the English-speaking West Indies
and inm the Frch ditmgl yet they
know virtually nothing about each other's
theater and are, generally, as unaware of
Hispanic theater as Cubans, Puerto Ricans,
and Dominicans are of theirs.
The atificial political and cultural
barriers established by the metropolitan
powers that shaped fe Caribbean's past
remain in place, and the lac of inercultmal
communication remains a disabling factor not
only in theater but in tens of virtually every
aspect of post and/or neo-ccoomal Caribbean
hie. TMm irony of the situation is that the
Caribbean proves to be an area of particular
activity. t is e birthplace of interationally
celebrated musical forms such as ala son
steelband, calypso, m Wngue. biguin and
reggae. Its best known novelists-V. S.
Naipaul, George Lamming, Eai Lovdac,
and Jamaica Kincaid, writing in English,
Joseph Zobel, Edouard (lissant, Maryse
Cond6, Simone Schwartz-Bart, and Daniel
Maximin, writing in French, and Alkjo
Caspentier, Ren6 Marqu6s, G. Cabrera
Infante, Miguel Bamet, and Lzis Rafael
Sanchez, writing in Spanish-are widely read
in te Caribbean and abroad ad frequently
translated. Cuba's Nicols Guill6n (recently
deeaued), Martinique's Aim6 C6saire, and St.
Lucia's Derek Walcott stand among fe most
distinguished of contemporary poetic voices,
and Walcott and C6sire are also among the
region's most highly regarded playwrights.

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

Caribbean dramatists display the same
array of talents: Errol Hill, Errol John, and
Earl Lovelace from Trinidad, Rent Marques,
Myma Casas, and Luis Rafael Sanchez from
Puerto Rico, Derek Waloott, perhaps the
region's premier playwright, and Kendel
Hippolyte from St. Lucia, Martinique's Ai
C6saire. Edouard Glissant, Daniel Boukman,
and Ina Ccsaue as well as Simone Schwarz-
Bart from Guadaloupe, Trevor Rhone and
Dennis Scott from Jamaica, a long list of
Cuban playwrights that includes Jos6 Triana,
Jos6 R. Brene, Abelardo Estorino, Albio Paz,
Gilda HernAdez, Eugenio Hermndez
Espinosa, Herminia Sanchez, Gregorio Jests,
and Gerardo Fulleda Le6n, and in the
Dominican Republic, writers ranging from
Franklin Dominguez and Manucl Rueda to
more contemporary and experimental figures
such as Reynaldo Disla. Furthermore, the
work of innovative theater groups and
companies such as the Trinidad Theater
Workshop, Martimque's Theatre de la Soif
Nouvelle, Jamaica's Sistren, Teatro Estudio,
Teatro del Escambray, and Cabildo Teatral de
Santiago in Cuba, Nuevo Teatro of Santo
Domingo, and in Puerto Rico, groups such as
Taller de Histriones, Nuevo Teatro Pobre de
America, and most recently the Teatrros de
Cayey further distinguishes the "idea" of a
Caribbean theater. These names can be joined
by many others nearly or equally as
A random selection of important
dramatic texts of the past four decades serves
as a kind of artistic barometer. Ren6
Marqus's Lacan (1952) and Errol John's
Moon on a Rainbow Shawl (1956) represent
the realistic theater of 1950s and map out the
geopolitical terrain of the modem Caribbean:
the transformation from a rural society to an
urban one with metropolitan extensions.
Edouard Glissant's Monsieur Toussaint
(written in 1961 but not staged until 1977)
places the successful Haitian Slave Rebellion
and its leader, Toussaint Louverrme, in a
broader historical and political context. Aim6
C6sairc's La Tragdi d Roi Chistoph
(1964) focuses on the aftermath of the Haitian
Revolution and the accomplishments and
failures of Toussaint's general and later king
of Haiti, Henri Cristophe. C6saire's 1969
rewriting of Shakespeare's The Tempest from

Caliban's as opposed to Prospero's viewpoint
brings the colonial contradictions of the
Caribbean into focus. Joe6 Triana's absurdist
political parable Lanochedelosaesinos
(1965), Derek Walcott's exploration of
Caribbean identity in Dream on Monkey
Mountain (1967), and Luis Rafael Sinchez's
reworking of dassical forms in La pean
segbt Angona Ptz (1968) begin to re-
create Caribbean history and myths in terms of
new dramatic forms and techniques,
particularly Epic Theater and Absurdism, and
to re-evaluate the positions of Caliban, Ariel,
and Prospero in the colonial and post-colonial
The Caribbean theater of the last two
decades displays an even wider range of
forms. It includes die collective development
of political thesis plays such as Albio Paz's La
Via (1971) or Gilda HernAndez's EljG
(1973) by Teatro del Escambray, realistic
comedies such as Walcott's Pantomime
(1977), the recovery and integration of
popular music, folk forms, and social themes
in works such as Earl Lovelace's Jestina's
Calyp (1978), Trevor Rhone's Old Stor
Time (1981), and Reynaldo Disla's Francisco
D&1 (1985), improvisational work by the
Women's Theater Collective, Sistren, which
has resulted in works such as QMH (1981-
83), about poor old women who were trapped
and died in a 1980 almshouse fire, Ina
Cesaiue's melancholy exploration of the
intertwined memories and pasts of two old
women in Memoires d.sles (1983), Simone
Schwarz-Bart's Ton bea apitae (1987), a
dialogue between a Haitian migrant worker
and a tape recorder, and the recovery of Afro-
Caribbean myth in Gerardo Fulleda Lz6n's
Cha~o de sa (1989).
Establishing even such a limited
Caribbean repertory demonstates, first of all,
the overall level of accomplishment in theater
and drama in a region often seen as culturally
and artistically underdeveloped or simply as a
tourist playground where "primitive" arts
serve as a folkloric background. More
importantly, however, it dearly indicates the
importance of articulating the idea of
Caribbean theater in regional terms. Divided
into individual national theaters, or even
grouped as West Indian, French West Indian,
and Hispanic Caribbean Theaters, each

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

island's or group's theater remains a relatively
obscure appendage of European, North
American, and/or Latin American theaters, but
when seen as a whole, the region's theater of
the past forty years assumes a position as one
of the most artistically accomplished theaters
in the world today.
The economic and cultural
infrastructures of developed nations simply do
not exist in poorer, smaller societies, and
Caribbean theater suffers from material needs
and the lack of a more stable tradition. Yet,
for all the time spent discussing them, the
problems of the production mechanism itself-
physical plants, budgets, training programs,
audience development. and so on-are perhaps
too related to what Derek Walcott once called
"that cursed colonial hunger for the
metropolis" and should not be confused with
the ability to create theater in Caribbean
contexts. The best theater of the region
testifies to the notion that theater can happen
anywhere, at times, even in theaters, and
stands comfortably besides the work of the
non-commercial, alternative, and/or
experimental theaters of Europe, Africa, and
North and South America.

Lowell Fiet


Benitez Rojo, Antonio. La isla qu se jrpite;
El Caribe y la perapectiva
posmoderna. Hanover, NH:
Edicions del Norte, 1989.
Hodge, Merle. "How Many Caribbeans?"
West Indian Literature and Its
Political Context: Proceedings of the
Seventh Annual Conference on West
hidian Li.rat. Rio Piedras, Puerto
Rico, 1987: 15-19.
Lewis, Gordon K. Main Currnts in
Caribbean Thought: The Historical
Evolution of Caribbean Society in Its
Ideolopcal Aspects. 1492-1900.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP,
Walcott, Derek. "What the Twilight Says: An
Overture." Dream on Monke
Mountain and Other Plays. New

York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux,

Peter Schumann and the Bread and
Puppet Theater in Puerto Rico

Introduction: Stefan Brecht claims that
"Peter Schumann is one of the great artists of
this century" in his two-volume study entitled
Peter Schumann's Bread and Puppet Theatre
(Methuen/Routledge, 1988). With the
possible exception of the Living Theater, no
other U.S. theater group of the past 25 years
has been so well received abroad as the
BREAD AND PUPPET Theater. Formed in
the early 1960s by Schumarm, a sculptor and
German national living in the United States,
the group gained high visibility during anti-
Vietnam War rallies, when thousands gathered
in New York's Central Park to watch free
performances, and when their huge puppets,
sometimes three stories tall, led protesters
through city streets. The group then seemed
emblematic of the "peace and love"
generation, captured national media attention,
and helped define the position of theater as a
founrm of social/cultural analysis and dissent
In the 1970s and 1980s., BREAD
AND PUPPET toured extensively in the
United States, Western and Eastern Europe,
and in Central America. They also
consolidated their accomplishments by
establishing a permanent residence-museum-
workshop-theater on the Glover, Vermont,
farm that serves as the site of the week-long
Domestic Resurrection Circus which
incorporates dozens of artists and thousands
of spectators every year.
Puerto Rican theater artists began
working with the BREAD AND PUPPET
Theater in 1979 and 1980 and have been
traveling to Glover, Vermont, to participate in
the annual Domestic Resurection Circus since
1983. Group members gave workshops in
Puerto Rico in 1985 and 1986, with one of
those culminating in a production of Daonal
Ma at the University of Puerto Rico High

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

School. In 1987, BREAD AND PUPPET
returned (this time with Peter Schumann) to
give a four-day workshop at the Puerto Rican
School for Plastic Arts and an open-air
performance on the grounds of the Fort San
Feipe del Morro that guards the entrance to
the San Juan harbor.
In March, 1989, Peter Schumannm and
six other Vermont-based puppeteers worked
with 60 Puerto Rican artists and students to
develop and perform The Passion Play of
Adolfina Villanluva a symbolic processional
drama in which a contemporary protagonist-
Dofia Adofma-assumes the passionate
crucifixion position central to Christian faith
and ritual (Adolfma Villanueva was shot and
killed in February 1980, while resting
eviction from her Pifiones-Loiza community
home. That area is now under consideration
for tourism development).
The play, with its 65 performers,
huge puppets, masked dancers on stilts,
parade band, hand-pained flags and banners,
group choreography, and processional action
tat covers acres, was first performed in the
Pifones-Loiza community itself, and then
once at each of the Rio Piedras, Humacao,
and Cayey Campuses of the University of
Puerto Rico. (A review of the productions
reprinted on pages 67-68 in this issue.)
The discussion that follows took
place on 30 March, 1989, the day of the final
performance. Schumann and group members
were staying at the Caycy Campus home of
artist-in-tesidence Antomo Martorell. After
breakfast and much conversation, we began
taping the answers to questions and general
comments about BREAD AND PUPPETS
stay in Puerto Rico, their visits to Nicaragua,
the tours in Europe and especially a 1988 tour
to Eastern Europe, and changes that have
taken place in BREAD AND PUPPETs work
in their 25-year history. While we spoke,
Martorcll painted the encounter. He also
joined the conversation at various intervals.
Group members Michael Romanyshin, John
Bell, and Jody Moore also participated.

L. F.
Interview with BREAD AND PUPPET

QUESTION: If I've heard one critical
comment about the performances in Piioes
and Rio Piedras, it has been exactly what
we've been talking about The whole notion
that the show is visually wonderful but there
comes a point where it stops. It starts again
but stops again. Then it starts again. The
normal spectator here who usually looks for
what we could call "flow" begins to wonder,
"Why is it so slow? Why are they taking so
long to say these things? What's the repetition
in the language about? And yes, it picks up
again, it goes, it goes. It starts to flow but
then it stops and gets slow again. And then it
picks up and goes." That's the kind of
comment Ive heard. I think it's a concern for
people seeing your work for the first time.

SCHUMANN: I think it's the most general
criticism of our shows, the most general
perception in an outside fashion of our shows
everywhere, I think, in the States, in Europe,
everywhere, this slow-pokiness, this
slowness of things. But there's not a design
to it. It's not that things are slow by design.
They come out that way and they come that
way for several reasons. One is the bigness
of things. Of the space used, the bigness of
the puppets involved-we have to move
slower than we would like. And the other one
is an interior desire to be out of that beat you
describe, to be in another beat. It's a... (and
I don't mean what is called "real time."
There's also that talk about "real time" and I
never quite know what that really means)...
it's a time that has a lot of time, that doesn't
see any reason for the hurry-up beat and flow
and what comes out of thaL But rather
something happens, and the recollection of
what happened before becomes part of that
moment. And in order to understand you
have to have that recollection.
One story that perhaps may describe it
is a talk that I had about such a slow-paced
play once with an engineer who came up after
the show and said, "But why is it so slow?
Look, r'm a normal human... American...
I'm an engineer. Why?" And then I asked
him to tell me what he saw. He could
recollect the whole play thad he had seen, in all
of its details. And when he had finished
telling it, he also had an interesting
interpretation of what this thing was. And this

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

would be impossible in mother medium that
would move by one beat or by an ongoing
pulsating beat instead of this pace that allows
the beginning to be included in th middle and
the middle to be included in the end, to be the
recollection of it, being part of what is next.

QUESTION: Ther's also a social sense in
that, isn't there? A smse in which we are
pushed to accept a different kind of speed.
We are being pushed to think that things are
happaing only at this moment and nothing
else matters.

SCHUMANN: There's a whole bunch of
different things in there. What you just said,
Ronny Davis [founding director of the San
Francisco Mime Troupe] said when we talked
in the 60s about how different our theaters
are-his theater, the Campeano theater, and
ours. "We are like traffic and you are like
meadow." Or something like that. "We are
like the pulsating beat of a modem highway
and you have something like you st down in a
field and listen to the things around you."
It's different things. There are
different aspects. It's also the thing we
discussed with the company yesterday. We
had a talk with the kids who are in this show,
and it's the absence of wanting to persuade the
audience to like you. It's one thing to be
success in the sense of picking up the beat
that the audinc has or of wanting to be
cheered. But it isn't time. Our stuff is sort of
not warning to be in that mold, not wanting to
do that. It is in the pace that the audience has
to do a lile job, has to commit itself to a lite
doing, to some work, to step outside, rather
than that we go and cheer them on with
something they hve already.

QUESTION: But the group here, different
from your first visit [two years previously], is
very young, virtually all university students.

SCHUMANN: Thle are even thirtmen and
fourten.year-old kids.

GROUP: Also one who's eight and another
who's eleven .... But mostly they're
between seventeen and twenty.three ....
That's a different kind of exprience... more

usually there would be young people but also
holdovers from another generation.

QUESTION: But te question really is what's
happening to your audience, either during the
[Domestic Reanrection] Circus in Glover
[Vermont] or when you're touring? What
kind of audience is now seeing and
participating in BREAD AND PUPPET? Is it
a thirties and forties audience that has a
memory of the 60s and 70s or is it like all the
kids who arena me? This for them is a...
thme's a certain kind of generational thing
that's happening right now and this new
generation here at least [Puerto Rico] is
starting to do a different kind of theater.

SCHUMANN: I think it's similar in the
States. This amazing group of young Puerto
Ricans that we've come to know in the
workshop, tmere's an equivalent in the States,
there's a similar atmospherem. Thee are very
young people making theater, and I know
from my own kids that it's very, very
different from what we are doing... on very
different remiss. We talked about just the
fact that Vietnam, for example, or the 60, is
mythology for thmn. It's not dihe perception
that we at mid-life have-the political
arguments and all sorts of concrete things.
Now it's so removed that when we talk with
youngsters this is myth. It's a number of
cliches established about this time.

study it in school People are doing their
MA. and Ph.D. theees on it all over the place.
And it's sort of romamitcized in a way and
sometimes college students think that "this
was a great time and 'm sorry that I missed
it" and things like that. They sort of want to
understand that and captme some idea of that-
that a lot of things e possble-because the
spirit of a lot of the 80s stuff is that things are
not possible, advocating that philosophy,
saying that social change is not possible, that
it's not fashionable, that people are against it
and even see it as wrong.
I felt that a lot on die Eastemn
open tour last year [1988], with the
environment show. That's when I really
began to fed this big chage in attitude from
audiences and how they... I mean for me

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

when I firt came into the thear that spirit
from eo 60swas sill I5 -Isort of ca min
on the end of it-but now whm we did this
tour last fal I really felt that the adinc
weren't with it in the way they used to be. It
was a realy different kind of attitude and

SCHUMANN: Ya, that's a very complicated
sociological spec of theater, this who do
you play for" perception. During the 70s we
became too comfortable, not oen questioning
our audiences maly. We went on e theater
circuit and perfmned. We had our pieces
ready lie ready-made art sort of and we
pulled them out, a couple, Onee, four, five
new ones, and we went to perform in all those
theaters. We didn't look much at who was in
those theaters. We didn't discuss much. We
had no trouble performing and getting
audiences and all that, until we did fel the
decline: in audiences, in a lighting
response, and all of that.
But fe thing is that it depends on
what you do. When you play in Glover at the
Circus you do not get that sense or when you
play here in [Pihons] you do not get that

QUESTION: I remember aeing Ave
ENliU in a high school in Portland, Oregon,
in 1977 or 78. I don't remember toe
compontion of the audimce but it was
relatively small and the response was
relatively subdued.

also a very subdued show. It's a abstract,
indoor show. And playing in a place like that,
you're in a high school in Portland. That's
very different from being in Prague where the
whole... the reasons you're there, the whole
economic situation...

SCHUMANN: But there's a similarity. In
Oregon, we didn't do what they needed to
hear at the moment, and you could say the
same about Prague. The Fireman show didn't
tell them what they needed to hear at that time,
It was a thing that was too ngeral, too much a
It wam't that way in tdrhe 70s, when
we stated off, or in the 60s. That sense of

picking ... happening to pick the right theme
at te right time was a strong part of it, and for
the tight people. You found something for
people that people were searching for. ..and
that s very much not in theater right now, I
fed. It's very hard to be lucky enough to do
that. But naturally all this has to do with the
cxte or manner, and where do you go? If
you play in a theater... theater ticts are
$30 or something like this-that's already a
very definite crowd right tmere. Of if you play
out here in Humacao or in Loiza, naturally..
. what a difference... it's very different.

JOHN BELL: But want there a demand for
it in the 60s, wasn't tmere a call for it?

SCHUMANN: Yes, yes, you couldn't
possibly play everywhere that you wanted to.

JOHNBELL: Then in the 70s it was like you
had to invent it yourself.

SCHUMANN: Another tour. Ya, you made
up your art and you believed in your art and
you just kept producing and pushed it out as if
it didn't matter. like God. Making apples
and giving tdem out to the people. It didn't
matter. I remember not even discussing
themes with the ompmany or te audience
anymore. There was no need for that really.
You just picked a tlme and there were
enough of them. But it wasn't this looking
for what has to be done at this moment.
I think now, I feel that things are...
the air is sharpening or getting more acid. It's
a period whee things are calling for art that is
in response to emergency, whie art does
want to produce dialogue with audience on
a ergencies, wants to address itself like a
political thorn, now in the late 80s.

QUESTION: Do you still tour a extasively
in fhe United States?

SCHUMANN: No. Right now it's very
mucd changed. TMhe's a bigger mix of doing
taneus shows, like this one [ft
Passon Play ofAdofin Ville v4, wh=e
you go somewhere and the show gets made
for a one-time occasion, for a one-shot
performance. You perform and that's it.

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

QUESTION: And Nicaragua, are you going

SCHUMANN: No. We went twice. We
would have liked to go this year [198889] but
we couldn't We didn't have the means to do

QUESTION: And the expemce d me= has
been ... ?

SCHUMANN: Very, very powerful

QUESTION: I read an article fNw Theatre
QuMdy, vol. III, Num. 12 (Nov. 1987):
291-302.] by a member of die San Francisco
Mime Troupe about their difficulties playing in
Nicaragua in 1986-lack of basic services,
changing schedules, no equipment or
equipment failures, etoetca It all seemed very
patroizing, very much like first-world
tourists expecting a-home conditions in the

SCHUMANN: It's not amazing. The
difficulties ame enormous.

GROUP: And we had all tat same
experience too.... We expected it....
We knew that's what it would be.

SCHUMANN: We're lucky because we're..
. Are we independent? No. We took puppets
along the first time, but the second time we
built all our stuff there, so there was no...
we took our tools and we even took our paper
along because we didn't want to take chances
with relying on anything they had. Water, we
were lucky enough to find that

QUESTION: But tat gives a sense, doesn't
it, that the whole proposition of art and
especially theater is more difficult in third.
world situations. It's even more difficult here
in Puerto Rico. It's harder, everything costs
more and takes more time.

GROUP: But isn't it simpler in other ways.

JODY MOORE. When we were in Prance,
we would do a parade and have different

elements like a red dragon. A Frencanm
would wonder does that mean a socialist, a
communist, this labor union or that labor
union. But when the North Afican people
who were in the neighborhood where we were
working asked "What's that" and we'd say "A
red dragon," they understood. There was no
problem. And in Niaragua and in all the
L Amntican comunes we've gone to-
except maybe Cuba where we an into more
inllDectuaty-peope a very ready to receive
us. In New York, you can pull out he
biggest most colorful pumet you can imagine
and people walk by ad they don't even se it
In these countries, if you start to unload a bus,
people gather around, they want to know what
it is.

SCHUMANN: Oh, I don't know. I was
amazed how strong the response was m towns
like Iaa or in unlikely provincial towns in
the United States where the middl-of-the-
road people ar the majority. And it was
powerful, I thought, that a play you couldn't
doin Frane became of the religious
overtones ...

JOHN BELL: Youre talking about the
Passion Play.

SCHUMANN: Ya, last year... I thought
about it a whole day long on hat tour. I think
that one can't blame it on the audiences. It's
us not being the right provocateurs at the light

But what did you mee a little while
ago whm you sid at at is getting more
difficult in Puerto Rico? Do you mean
economically more difficult or is it more than
tat? Beouse one the points I tied to make
last night when we talked with the students
was about money. The difficulty of money or
just &he view at money an artist might have or
should hav or can have at his moment in our
economics. And all the kids who came
afterwards talking to me talked about that.
"Oh, it's good to talk about money. It's very
important, you know, that we talk about
money." And it's true, it is something that
artists or theater peopk don't talk about It's
the unadmitted big hangup that.. it's not
only tat we don't know what to do, about

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

our function in society as artists, but also how
do we make a buck to survive? How do
young people start to make at? With what,
with what means? Do they have to do slavery
and thn do at at night? Do they have to
spend the best part of die day making these
std bucks ad then do their art work at
nig Or do they have to getthis smartass
administrator who runs around to private
companies and to govemmnt culture
organizations and collects money from them
and all those tricky things?

QUESTION: It me try to frame min oth
issue. BREAD AND PUPPET also seems to
work best for me at the point where concrte
specic or local cons ovedap more
abtract, general or munvenal ones. That play
between specificity ad gneality becomanes
particular fascinating in its ability to translate
nearly inompre bible abstractions uch as
nudear warfare, genodde, racism or survival
of the plmiet into graphic images that form prt
of our day-to-day hves. 'm thinking of
examples such as the execution of a chair or
filling the entire stage with miniamres f fmnn
animals and then tipping dem all over or
making a poor woman like Dofa Adalfina
Vilanmeva the subject of a pasian play.' I
don't know if that makes sena or if you cam
to comment on it

SCHUMANN: Oh, it makes sense. But itfs
hard to separate it from things that are directly
connected to it, namely the fact that in contrast
to tv or film, the image that you use is
educated by the fact that you ae in a real
situation, that people are sitting in front of you
eyeball to eyeball, that this m tng them in a
space at a certain time is fuy realized, and
that's the education of what you're making
there, your basic education. And even to the
extent it indudes the social isse, of the
moment or the concept of grabbing de real
mnergencis at the real time and being able to
bing them to that dieutele that sees you
directly, not on a screm, not in a pre-history,
in a ppared getting like a nice theater. That
what's done thee. Its a job that happens at
the time and-mat chair doem't always wok-
there's a moment where that tortme and killing
of dw chair make sense ad theme's mother
moment that... like Michael said, when we

took die Fireman show to Pague, it didn't
make my sense to them. It may have been at
another point, two years later or two years
earlier, it may be just what thee guys have to
see. And when he took DiggiaL.M to

GROUP: It was pefect.... Because they
thought of themsves as "diagonal men" and
they didn't know it...

MICHAEL. We didn't realize it until dhng
the perfommnnane, what that naratim, what
those words meant to the people watching
until they wee actually aid. That's the
moment I realized it, when those words were
said and you started to think about thm in the
context of where you were.

QUESTION: And DiaguLMa lhere [Puerto
Rico, 1986] in teams of andine?

MICHAEL It was similar. It wam't as
strong as in Poland, because in Poland that
was the beginning of fte.. ..at point
where martial law had been dedared...

SCHUMANN: That country has an
ndrground cultme, to a certain degree, the
real culture is an underground culture ad if
you hit that, you are then connected with
Polad more than official culture cman be...

MICHAEL In France, we went to France on
that same tour and they were very blast. It
was very surprising.

JOHN: One aspect of what you're talking
about very muc concerns this techique of
working with objects-masks or puptS or
the chair, for example, or the ls being
tipped over to show nudear war and how it
could never be done on television. I think
some of the power of what BREAD AND
PUPPET' does is smply to present theater
with what PeNr talked about, with people
really being We ad eye to eye contact and
also this theater that's not an ator or an
actress trying to show you how they're
affected by nuclear war but instead in this very
s-sightforward manner that is boh lately
traditional, I think, but very radically
from mams media A lot of it is rediscovering,

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

the audience rediscovering the power of fthse
objects in motion, of the presentation of ideas
in objects.

QUESTION: The object works to try to bring
people back to the nation that thee are still
basc issues like food, shelter, doting.
These, in a suse, have stopped being issues
in North American life. They remain issues
but everything in the culte tries to make you
forget that they are real ises ... the old
survival issues are entirely masked.
Everything tells you that thee are no longer
issues, supposedly.

SCHUMANN: But to the largest degree ever
they are now issues because it's not only the
homeless in New York but it's now this
general planetary fear, anxiety ... more than
that ... there's a death wish in there. We get
what we deserve finally. We erected it and
it's coming down on us now like an
earthquake or supernatural event.
But it's another thing-let's talk about
that chair again. That chair s not a fleatrical
device. It's not the smart picking of a symbol
but is out of a respect for chairs. A chair, a
chair that is picked with some diligence. It's
done like the puppets or like he colors that I
use ina manner of leaving things in their own
right. Music in our shows isn't mUIak it
isn't movie music, it isn't sentimental
adornment or enhancement, it's countering the
event more than supporting it It's an activity
that has to be seen as wen as heard. The chair
isn't just a symbol of a chair. The colors
aren't chosen in order to harmonize an action
that goes on while they are being used but
they are meant to speak by themselves. It's
sort of this idea, lot's say, of dfe Bunraku
stage... I don't know if it's a good idea to
say tfat actually because fte support of the
narrator for the puppet is too obvious.. .but
I've seen it in classical Japanes theater, this
dividedneas of the stage: the spoken stage, the
musical stage versus the visual stage, not
simply existing in a supportive manner with
each other but existing purely and often in a
discourse that's condicry and fighting
each other rafier than just supporting each
other. That's the idea of theater, I think, to
have conflicts, real conflicts like color, music
more biting and fighting than hamaoiing...

You know what I mean? It would be an easy
way out to see this as an all-round art. Puppet
heater is where you use sculptme and musc
and dance and poetry and you make it into
something comfortably fitting, nicely fitting
and compod And because of that use of
many different means, the composition is
Hegelian, Wagpdman and all that. But actually
it isn't like that It's more like you're looking
for the purest leaving alone of what's painting
or of what's muaic and especially with
sculpture in our cam, in puppeteering. Again,
it's there in it's own right, speaking it's own
language. The poppet want made to be
something other. Is the other way around.
The puppet educateB the eye to son that thing
as other and not a part of another, which is
an around the camer way... it's a way of
thinking of scuplture.

JOHN: I hiank that hat's an important
diffaormc because oftentimes people want to
work with masks or pppeta or sculpture to
illustrate fe text or the story. Where it
seems like what BREAD AND PUPPET does
often is have this attention or respect for the
object or the puppet itself first and then that
combines in often undhoughtof ways with the
intention to make stories. And then you get
something that's bigger because there's a
surprise there, an unknown involved became
at a certain point you're nmasing around,
maybe, trying to figure out how to use this
coffee cup and then something clicks and it
works. And often it seems like most of the
time you swe something in how it moves or
it's juxtapoed in anew way and it makes
sense and then you say "that works, that's
something to use."

SCHUMANN: And [John] Cage and [Merce]
Cunmingham do that in a methodical way.
They say here's the sound, here's the
costume, here's the stage set, here's the
dance. They have nothing to do with ead
other. They meet at the time of performance.
They don't even have to rehearse with eadch
other. That's a radical method. We don't
have that. For us the how to get tem together
is fe wok. But we are doing flat We are
using that method but not methodically.

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

PUPPET going? Is there some foreseeable
change, some kind of new plan?

SCHUMANN: I don't know, I don't know.
m rady to give up at the moment. I don't
know. It's seems more and more difficult to
make theater pieces at make any snse. This
is an instance where it's ice, where it makes
sense. It's fine here, so we're lucky. It's a
lucky find of a story, a lucky find of a bunch
of people, lucky time limitation, lucky nicc-
looking place. But it can go totally wrong
too. It's also very unsatisfying do to this, to
do this and nothing comes out of it, so to
speak. You do four performances... wsask
... and its gone. So you learn something but

JOHN: I don't know. I mean this is a
passion play and when I think of the fist
passion play ...

SCHUMANN: In that sense, yes...

JOHN: ... you did, which was in Nicaragua,
I mean the first in this style, using thee
puppets, and the it was done in Vemnot and
that was a whole new thing in the Cicua, to
do a traveling passion play. And lhen you
toured it around, doing the story of the young
tree, and now this is a new extension.
SCHUMANN: Thisaplay Ie Pa-an Pisy
of Adolfina Vilanva iskind of an old
tradition of doing passion plays. Originally
fey wer more in et traditional mode and
more about Vietnam or social isues in New
York Then we dropped them for many yeah
and now we did one Nicaragua first and
later did an ecological one and now this one.
That's true. This is one that's connected to
many year of other things, and maybe in
some other form it will be usul again.

MICHAEL Because you said the same thing,
sort of, after the Nicaraguan workshop too: it
was a great project but what comes out of it ?

SCHUMANN: It's the same thing I felt when
we worked in New York, in Hariem. We,
white, not quite middleclass. You know,
people going to Hadem, to die South Bronx,

and doing a very suooetful workshop with
200 kids, wry amazingly succeul getting
these kids together to do what they did. And
then we go away, and all dre social workers
and everybody saying, "What, you're going
away? You started this thing, now is the time
to go there, to become a tender, to take those
twelve kids who were great and.. ." It
doesn't make any sense. It's true. But you
always drop it Here in Puerto Rico it's not
so bad because all thee young people-there's
something there you can trust, at kast
something will stay. But the normal thing...
right now Mredith [a group mnembr] and I
did this thing in Colorado. hat will stay?
Nothing. It was a tremendous thing, in a
way. Really a find, of a way to make this
thing in a short time, finish it, about the area
that it's in, about this defense thing. And you
go away and you fed so tedibly empty and
lousy ...

JOHN: But then that same tuet ended up in
the New York show.

ANTONIO MARTORELL But iant dat also
part of the art process, regardless ...

SCHUMANN: I mian you canprodn= a
play, like when you have a small company,
when you have a comply play, something
contained. It's different because you get
something there, and if your lucky, it
becomes part of a r-petory, even if we don't
do that much.

JOHN: But then the repertory ends too.

SCHUMANN: But you fed that you have
something. Ifeel now dat we can still take a
cantata or plays from the years this and mat,
and didn't we just do that recently with...

GROUP, ... Joa of Arc...

SCHUMANN: ... ya. . you can take his
thing. You have something thre.

JOHN: But you're not always happy woddng
with a company either. I mean me are
certain drawbacks to that Or then to be a
teacher in a college to coMtim that wok.

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

Would you be satisfied with saying in

SCHUMANN: No, no, definitely not, and
also not to go back to Harlem and work wifi
the kids.

MARTORELL I think it has a lot to do with
what we were talking about at breakfast. It's
always beginning and finishing in order to
begin again. This is art as &t reluctant lover.
You go to it precisely because it is reluctant
and you try again and again, and you're
always beginning.

MICHAEL But the more you become
conscious of that maybe the harder it

SCHUMANN: But talking like this it's very
good to find out that there's somebody just as

QUESTION: But te use of puppets itself is
part of the urge for permanence, part of the
urge to preserve the image and to be able to
repeat and conserve that sense, by developing
a kind of continuity, a kind of history. That's
some of th meaning behind de puppet itself,

MARTORELL: I think the object remain.
Many times you start with the object and the
object is the steppingstone, the bridge, but it's
also th pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
You go back to it...

SCHUMANN: .. .and use it in different
ways. It's true.

MARTORELL Its the scraliation of the
object. And it's always there. And when I go
to Vermont and I see all those puppets, my
God, it's like a cathedral. It has that Puality.
It's not a museum, it's a cathedral. It s a
cathedral whea all thdc plays are still
happening. The memory of them and the
futnm of dim. They all get mixed together in
some kind of visual music. It never finishes,
it's always beginning.

QUESTION: When a performance is over,
you have to ask, what remains? What rmnans

after a BREAD AND PUPPET perfonnman?
Does dte image remain, and what that
image? The image is thtet, and the image in
the audiace's mind is what, the puppet? And
the puppet remains a well.

SCHUMANN: Maybe it has to do with this
moment in history a littk bit because when
you did travel in 60s and ready 70s there
were discussions after e plays. It was not
just that you left an individual and profitable
image mzer, but you got jumped at for what
was done e or you had to defend the
politicalnce of something or the non-
poliicalne of something else. There was the
dcinre to see art and now there is not the desire
toseeart. I think that is fairy clear. Tlhemis
not a cdmlnt that wants to see art. We have
to come, like we do here i Perto Rico, and
go out to people in a open plaza ad then you
get the feeling tht you have a fresh

QUESTION: But was it ever really 1he? Or
was the dintenk just part of a temporary mass
movement that was enjoying a discourse that
wu alive at hat time. But Ue moment die
isoe subsided, the moment the war was no
longer an issue, the moment the economy no
longer allowed for those kinds of freer life
styles ...

SCHUMANN: Ya, ya, that's what it is. But
then you ask yourself, now the issues are by
so many years larger, bigger, more burning,
more dangerous, more and more developed in
a way, moe coming to a point, and why is the
dimate tehn for this latnt let it go as it goes..
. ?

JOHN: But those were like pre-revolutionary
times in a way. Peophad the thought that
thmre was the possmbility for tremendous
change. And now were in poet-revolutionary
times without having th revolution. We
suffer mis depemion that comes after the
revolution, except we didn't have it, only Ue
realization that te possibility is farflu away
than peopk thought at the time. But then it
becomes raler cydal at that point .... But
I think that thln's always an audience.
People are always intmeted to a greater or
leases degree.

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

SCHUMANN: Of course, you cm make ma
audience by doing what we did yesterday or
the day before. That's making an audience.

MICHAEL: I think in some ways that thee
United States tours ae like that too. There's
no real circuit The theater made its own
circuit by going to places that nobody goes to,
There ren t even art centers or anything tmer
and after going back after several years there
was an audience... for a while. Now it kind
of broke down again but re was a real
circuit that didn't exist before. And that was
pretty great
QUESTION: But that means that ateast in
the United States things am more difficult
right now?

SCHUMANN: Definitely, and that's not just
me saying it. I say at after talking to other
artists. Things are definitely getting wo e.
Money, as you say about Puerto Rico, is
much harder to find and things get more

any more endangered than it was, say, ten
years ago?

SCHUMANN: No more so. Itcouldhave
happened at any moment that we just couldn't
have continued I gums the inspiration was
always this feeling that you had to do
something, that there was son response
needed to e urgencies of the moment. Soin
hat way it's hard to talk about it in tms like
the money situation is bad or the public is't
there anymore or the sponsors don't want us.
It's not really that As long as you feel you
have to do it, you find a way of doing it.

JOHN: In that sense I fed that its even moe
critical or important now because like in the
60s and 70s dhe idea of a kind of resignation
and pemimism about doing things is kind of
institutionalized. In the umniwvty,
posnodemn theory and stuff is all very post-
68-why do it, why even think about
changing things when we all know that it can't
happen any way? That's a very down kind of
attude that's institutializd, and the politics

of the past decade or so has made avenues
more closed off.

SCHUMAN: Also, in a bunch of reviews
from Ameican dane journals that Aleandra
[Martorll] had kft lying around an a ta1be
here, I read about young choreographs'
problems and things of that sort.
evidemily get money from foundations and as
part of the requirement for getting that money
they have to peform their dance pieces in
unlikely settings.... They have to point out
that they are playing grsroot-evel or, I don't
know what you call than, reach-out or target
Then to read thmee youngster
demcbing the difficulty of doing that and the
enjoyment of doing this extraordinary thing,
and I was thinking this all begins with what
we're dealing with. How easily they could
have gotten that information from us. Why do
they ha to go through the pain of making
that into a jeweled kind of expainee? They
could have leaned that from us before they
got born, or right after. In their baby shoes
they could have come and we could have
talked.. . ba, be, ba, ba,ba. But we have no
communication with this performing arts
world, it seems. The pqieru don't write about
us. But also, we don't do any communicating
with them. It's funny to read that, for me-
the answers ar lik a great spre, a great
discovery. They go to aneldedy ciizns'
home and it's a revelation ...
How do you think a show like this
LAdolfi VinMMal would work in Harem?
If it wouldn't be Adolfina, if it would be a kid
who got shot became he picked an orange and
the guy who shot him-the cop who shot him,
probably-thought it was a drug deal I
wonder. We should try it.

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

Machurrucata y el humor de la

Rosa Lias Mrquez

Univevrdad de Poerto Rico
(noviembm de 1990)

Ya ha pasdo an ano, La Escuela
Intrmacim al de Teatro de Amnica Latin y el
Caribe va por so Qumlo Taller, unencuatro
en Buenos Aices de los monumentos
nacionales vivientes del teatro de mestra
Am~ica. Osvaldo Dragn, Gian Franemco
uamerii, Santiago Ga, Atahaa del
Cioppo, Delfina Ouzman y Lais M aini Y yo
sigo posponiendo el reato de lae xpeaieda
del Primer Taller que ya Ih sido coismgnda ca
la Revista Cogit # 82 y el Drma Review.
El fuego de esa memorial es confuso,
contzadictorio, y espero que el hnmo de la
distancia no hays empafado lo cencial d laI
vivensa. A brbotones, pues, inhmtaw
exhalada atuL
La z de de la Ecola surgi6 del m
Encomntro de Tetisa Ltinomeuicanos
realiado en La Habana a 1987. La giri6
Lois Mohlin, director del Centro de Estndios
Lainoamericaae de Teato (CELCIT) de
Venezuela y foe acoptada con Mtuaimo par
todos los al preaents. Se noa pidi6
envirams ante-proyectos suginendo
nmeram de insmuwentr la Eascea y de
divereos passes les iandamos aternativas.
De 6was swgi6 el concept indito de u
to inruant cuyo objetivo prinmpal
r el nvetigar y difMadir la expenendas
eatrales mas significative del contientc.
Aunque el proycto no erla de ningto
gobiemo, 6dtos podrian colabo=r can la
Escela. Ca de las Americ en Cuba sda
cl ctro principal de coordinad6n y Osvaldo
Dragon, el magic teatr61ogo argentino,
Laego de sesioms de plamficadin
cntc ls minnbmro d la junta de dirccd de
la Escuela, nos reumnos en medio de la
humatda permanemf de fmnadoim s
empedenidos en un Hotel de la Haban para
lamficr Primer Taller Dragan, Magaly
mcia, director de I& Revista CQUnnI
Miguel Rubio, director del Orupo Yuyachkani
de Pert Raquel Cmai6, decana de tcatro del

Institute Superior de Art de Cuba; Lmis
Molina y yo. Tomando el modelo de loe
tallmcs del dictor del Odin Teatrt, Eugenio
Barba, acordamos, aunque con objedone a lo
apretado del program, an caledario de
trabuajointeo de confie enda, claws, talklrs
y peaa nes. El dia comenzaba alas
7:00 de la mafa y tmninaba
Srximadamen a la 11:30 de la noche.
grupos de pedagogos oonduciran
est proycto de un mes de dmuc6n, al cual
aitlfan almdedor de 100 particpaanespentre
cootdinadore, talleristas y personal de apoyo:
Mignel Rnbio y Teresa Ralli del
Yuyachkani, Santiago Gacia de La nelia
de Colombia, Andrds PKcz del Orco Teatro
Callejewo de Chile y Antonio MatomU ly yo de
los Teatreros Ambulmics de Poerto Rico.
En octabre de 1989 nos mudamos a
Macdunract, un poebito de ochocientos
habitantes a veinte minutes de La Habana.
And me voy en an aomaiwmnto a nmemtro
taller del Jumtngo para lego hwer la
penordmica de los reultados de los otros
talleres. En Jurtungoramos veime: de
Argentina, Argentina-Frandua, Bolivia, Brasil,
Cuba, Chile, Espais, Nicaragua, PanamA,
Uruguay y como por condia6n hist6rica los
pedagogos 6ramos bilingOes, redibimos
tambidn tallerilast de Sucia, Estonia, Estados
Unidos y Surminm; profeionales todos
actors, directors y teouicos. E trabajo debfa
grr ahidedar del libro Memoria del fewgo de
Eduardo Oalcano, an agidule recent de
breves reatos, mitos y leyenda do nuesta
America. Nosotros tomamos cl texto como
cpre-txto, deanullando ejcicios que nos
hcierm fundonar como la manoria selectiva,
obsesiva, dando saltos a el tiempo y ei
capqio. La pricra banana paricipamos en
juegos de confianza y omunicad6n. Tofio,
quim habfia tzaildo miles de hoju de papel de
sedan de oolozes, comenz6 a envolver al pueblo
y al hotel con o arcoir. Durate la segunda
nemana los ejecids de calntaniento erm
disefados por los propios talleristas.
Sekocionamos, admds, fragmentos de la
ecd6n "Los nacmientos" de sla Mhuia y
los impieanamos an grupos peque on tres
lugaes diferles de la comn idad y cl hoteL
El espaio deanimaba c monte. See aogi6
el jurdn de juegos del poebl, an ernoe
patizal cat los edfiaos y la cactra, y la

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

picima dl hotel. Cadam de la mve
unrovisacnione tom6 mn giro difoerate,
difereates pe maje, diveas mane do
narrar. Tambi6n hidmos eanvisa a los
readenws de Macdmniavln para mcatr un
poco de la memona del propio pueblo que
decfa no taer hitora poe l tena venc
afios. Descabrimoe duranc 'd proceo ,
nestro viaje a a comidad me hada fac
pero quc, sin embargo, el de los
madmrrIcuIamae al hotel em inacdmodo,
condicdnado, priciccnanz i imlpoae para
lo que no em anpleado de all. Algo de
csto deba quedar evideciado en la
p3aetmact final. Simultneamente
confecoism os ekienmos co mnaledaics do
deecdio de ima fibrica do textile, pMpel de.
peri6dico, carton y iela. Con esto fomamos
figure y ecalutru de objetos y cuerpoL.
Acamulamos mucho materal par deupos
sentamo a editar nodstro propio texio.
Duinte la tr mraysmau
constwimos el leto. Tomanos en conta
cada mn de Ic expr en.ci dd taller y
klecconmao las que nos ervian pa hamer
n tro relalo ea el epcio. Regreeamos alos
ugates de las Inprovisaones paa
reconsir cl tayecto. Prepamos loe
mateiiale pma enqueer la poele cada
etai6n dela rm aeidentific6 wnan citel
aluaivo alt t40tito par los c imaginaMiMio
y male. de repre mtacdLn. metfors
meda el viaje. Un viaje por nmu eodela
revoluci6n de loB que we encunmia ca cada
puebhto de Cuba y que Machurrucu no
tnia. Un viaje on a hilo conductor bdho
de los material de doedi, por la memoria
del pueblo, per Ia smemon a d propio talr y
a tmvds deo i mu e giganteco-l pueblo
mismo-dndec los balcoac de las caas,
paando por el jrdin de infaules, par el techo
del mrcadito ca al imalamo lamiea de
mernda, par el paizal junto a la parda de
guaguu, por la calle bsla la calrada del hotel,
fraite a a balcones, por el vedbolo,
colmimndo en los alededoRe de la piadna.
Creo queen la erer saanma hubiaemo
estado lists paa haer n sta pieamniaciz,
pero la irmnos para que drao qo lo
otros taB es. Aqu la tas6n, cargt y rimo
logrados decayeron. Volvimos a eawp dos
en los tltimo dia. L dimos los toque
finale a la utileda y vesmiao, easyaymos y

prometanos, adenms, cn la ayuds de los
itegrantee del taller de JMutngo, Inestas
Las uianitas tenti el prop6ito
de er luga d enco ro pa que los
directed doe tales ie explicarn al picno la
mnera ea que fundonaban los grupos en sws
apoctivos pmaes. Hab(an ado objeto do
fricxdon por s horamio madnugador sin
siquica nn blcdedo de caf6. Ya cuando noB
oc6 haoer ata pseantaci6a, haban
fdfido ua notable reduccid do public.
Nos propomo cambiar el tono
conamdeabcmn. En vez do a wrmausaen
de exposici, harfamos u desayno y
durMae d mimao, p nhaimos tralmealr
nestRa metodolol do trabajo con reaonos
audioviualca. A T aio s le ocur6 propelar
calabmh wllem. Coneguir calabmas a
Cuba fue today una odima; fumos a cuanicaas
de un hnerto leoano pem ya no quedaban;
fihahlmnu ea mn lmacn muy crca del hotel
no las rgalol En las diplotiedads,
excluivu pas diplomnticoe y twi.aa,
conuegaimon msdua poem d bmcalo se habta
acabdo an los mcado y al sm do "OjalA
e Ueva caf6 c ed compo" del grupo
domimao 440 I t avimos cafe a lo cinea
taolerism que ae levanron bailando.
Micatru dMesymwabn, nosotros, aaviados
con gonros de codwro y delantales hedges
dr e de p6dio, ervmos las mew y
Vddnl a de caga omuplada a lo
comualeae tocando ea la guitma lu
canaones favorite. Mourmos el video de
fragmeulos de noamtro trabajo ca Poueto Rico:
Folo-ittUa. Eli ab,,, to.Wlabanado, LA
pa El lcn 1v laiova. Conlestamos
pregmnes y los decpedimos tambid al son de
"Ojal que lava laf quoe e convi'ti6 e el
himo del Primer Taler de la Emcala.
La nocbe del sibado de la coata
mana, doe de los cuatro grpos hicero sm
demoBnci6n fulL El de figu l Robio y
Temea Ralli pe 6 en la paza del pebl
na exploracd6n sobmr brmji, volcaes y
droow tabajo collective on prooeo, product
de sasonea do intmao ntrondminto flsico
basdo on la eacuela de Eugcio Barba, quoe
par erto bhalia ofecido on mium-taer y
varias preatacioes junto a la actriz Roberta
Camim. Be. amiamnto deinrolla
coqras diaciplinados y montaje limpios,

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

umque psm mi guato omn unan mnridad y
frialdad militr. Cada actor se trmandfma n
una isla flotat un tMWo aslada dd lsto del
archipiedago y de su pOblico.
8 grupo de Andres P6ez de Chile
epreasmt6 con eucenografia y wustwuao, pcro
sobe todo con maquillaje, varied de los
rrIatos de Gaano. El text s dijo ntegro.
El afms de so tmbajo ema obe lamuscaram
facial y corporal. Cada actor desmrol6 un
andar y habSi particular, sobe todo boucando
la verdad intna del personajc. Con Andces
tUvimos n diAlogo inteamat saobre la
utilizad6n del maquillaje do negro sobe
coerpas blamcos y mulatos y sobre el
dsarollo dc peironajem eatoeotipados. So
trabajo final, a pear de haber asdo concebido
durante s61o dos smanas, fue d mas
spectacular y ambicioso de todos.
Al medio dia del domingo pina-6 sU
proyecto final el grpo de Santiago Garda,
que lhaM fudamentado m taller ca
improvisaciones y extensesa weones de mesa.
Gir6 en tomo a la aciadn colkcdva de im
mito qu fundi6 la obra de Galano con las
vivenlcas del pueblo. Utilizarn la cale, los
apar iito, part d los patios y un arbol
gigant pan har ana hisnoria soba la mouner
y meumecai caya imagen central surgi6 de
un retablo mexicao dd dia de los mucrtoa
Ue estaba en exhibici6 on la Bienl de Arte
PlCti de La Habana. Integraron maicos
de un pueblo crcmo y miembros de la
comniudad en su montaje. Em el pnmr
trabajo al aie lihbe que hadla alizaedo Garda
y lo scntla como an vardadcro reto. Su picza
prpar6 el iaio para la nuetra que tefa
ecmcato similares. Aqulva:
Del ter po de imo de los
cdifidos, El sol-. udio de Brauil-invit6 a
lose cpectdare a un dia maraviloso. Deade
el pato, Valntn de Nicaragua, veatido de
maestro doe aommomas, abra con ma soga las
po tas de los coatro balconcs de donde salmn
loe talkriantIcLas vecins de la comanidad y
los mfos que se integrawnU a mMstro trabajo,
todos vestidos con trajes de papel. Deed l
final de la mca, RubEa de Argetina, legaba
cabelgando n mna caneta adornada con forest
de papd y anunando lam bodas medltisp de
los ieaideas d Machamat: na de. las
ancdotus recogidas na nonu enntevias.
El matmonio protagonist, a inatada de

subs etce hijo aceptaba cae porque hahda
fiea y todo bajaban par alp&blicoy
celebar ael jardn do infant. El jardfn era
una zona de deastsr, columpios mohosos,
sube y bajas rotoe, todo despintado y
detcairado. AllM rp n os con los mfios
unm adaptacin del Ari de Galeno y
decoranme ca papeks amailos area de
juego; bajo la & ralo gode la.m rte de
la novia, y on minos de ma niia, naderon
la eatellas. La nia, cargada en haubros,
nos trnsprt6 a la bae del mrea de comemo
sobre cayo tedo, Raquel de Uruguay,
Valenin y Radl dc Bolivia cntaron la histoia
de n mnfio travieso que se cort6 un dedo con
la smnma que ua el puoeo pa anmciar mna
invasi6n. El Sol vdvioallamar alos
especados y a invitados avr El camino
del viento pardonde maguaualada
decorada coa un enmme eatandarte s
aercamba dede la distacia pisando rome rojas
de papd do seda, tocando bocina e invitamdo a
los espectadoes, que ya alcanzabmn los
treadetos, a caminar hasta d holeL Can el
pohlico e al p&rtma, Raqud y Eva de
Suedct o tmmar ntand na can dn sobre
la amistad micnzas elevaban d estandare piso
a piso. Andrts, d estoanio, abda las puertas
del hotel y daba inmstuc nes precias do
c6moemt par porelvesblo. Alid poera
lento. E eapacio eaaba coeiaeto por barera
dep peri6dico que enian escitas, ea
Slos idioms de nuesaio taller, las dos
frasmes contradictorias que d hotel I dirig(a a
sus visitates: jBienvemdos! a los tistas y
No enta a los cubanos o natives, como se
refin6 aenos un official do segudad. Los
espectadoes tenan que atravesar las banexas
para legar al area de la pis' la cual los
observaban estatuss de ban ist engafados,
sentados en silas de made verde que al
golpe do palmadas cambiaban de poscidd,
como aut6matas, para lugo desaprecar bajo
una enane sbana blanca. Un grupo de
pintoes regaba tints d colored sobre la
sibana mientias s traladaba today lai uidd al
pount de la picna, al son de un texto de
Galcano acompasado par zitmos vocals:

Los colors

Eran blanco las plumas de los pijaros
y blanca la piel de los aaimales.

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

Azales son, ahora, los que se baiaron
en an lago donde no desembocaba
ningan rio, al nlagin rio macia.
Rojos, los que se sumergieron en el
lago de la sangre derramada por an
niio de la tribu kadiuen. Tienen el
color de la tierra los que se revolcaron
en el barro, y el de la ceniza los que
buscaron calor en los fogones
apagados. Verdes son los que
frotarom sus cuerpos ea el follaje y
blancos los qua se quedaron quietos.

Luogo d laframa qdarnm quictos' m
dev6 laI bU a y se dej6 dinflar cno un
i1naso globo couicado a todos lo
imegramna do nuesro taner. Coando todo
cstavo quito, dead las habitacionme del hotel
y por altoatMe ei cuch6 'Ojala que
nova ca" mimntcu del techo-lexto piso se
lanaba mna nluvia del peel picado de clore.
En ca inatam leoBs cpectadoie ompletaoni
Ia pima, bilando al son del maengue,
abraznadoe, blanduo y a ando ma larga
hlina de cnga que le dio la vuelta a la picina
decrada previammic, como amm sops
Campbell, oon la letra de Madarmcota.
MachoBs lanz alm agua a chapauietar can
los nioes del pueblo. La pieza no 61lo oe6
ca cataMis olectava las pre tacion de loe
dos d~, aino tamti6n u mes do trabajo
arduo y concontrado, alogras y tkstezas.
En el tnumo de la mimna tambifn
habla ocumido an acddent. LWs de Eqmaia
se rompi6 la davicula mitras hacia an ato
mortal frae ala guagua alada del Camino
del Viento. Alguano no udimos coent
htascl final H6ctor de Cuba, an adolescumit
que se haba inegrado de leno al tMer, tuvo
que susiaido. Hector foe vidima de la foute
spervii6n del hotel y tavimos, junto al
director de la Ecaela, que dr mma bulalla
paru que It pemitieran pricipar can
noeotros. So nos vda como agentOs
conimainaf cap de afectr
negalivame Ala muDm de penm y actmer de
los habitamnt de MacIInrrrc. Era
indispensabk la prenda d H6ctor an la
Escowa, oImo fue dinchea ble laaitiada de
IoB machurrcotes afhotd, para
demostrades lo coatrao. Es neceaso
armonzarlos made dola vida y elarte.

No eas sficinte que d arte ea libuador sino
Al patir, nos de mos con e
sewaido de capa de habor vadido na
comunidad y mardiamoRs in I compromise
de coninuar ennquo adanos muamontc.
En la fita dodepedidaloeniiosnoe
proguntabanw cuado regoamn? Nos daba
vergiza contetar. Parte del eguimieno le
=cxorapnd alos batrecs cabanos. La
Eaelauego de an ao, regre6 a
Madchircnta; dead Powto Rico fueron dos
talle&i que debme coalintar d idato.
La Eacola ha mngmuido aeciendo,
modificando sm estiucora, adaptindoe a los
pages sode yalas dzca indas: Baail,
Hondmasy ahora Argentina. La .d de
infonamda uompurtida a ha multiplicado y
difundido. Los amigos neovos ae vyn, me
cmibn invc pMrayects juntos,
recogiondo aro pitni. Hay planes para un
grand ncontro tetral cm Ecuador ca 1992.
Nomotroa par nusta prte a ndimos mudco
de la expencia y cominuamoe hBadedo
taileis y montajes grafico-eatales, amnque
ms catos quoe a aquella ocaan.
Noesra bmega en Machiacwtu foe
arm6ica. A Tofio le too6 danne teaia ca
mis moment de aniedad. Send que, a
posadel caacter condliador y flexible do
ran, hala un ambicate teno y
compe itivo cntre algunos de los directors do
ta&ir y una nigidez que impedfala
improvi- On y adaptaddn c6moda a
tnaciones conflictive. Hubira deseado quo
a vcz do mostrar trabajo d cuatro grpos,
produciemos un trabajo final, coectivo, en
done lo mejor do nuostra destreza hubiera
florecido. An drainte la prowi6n de daee
ea las called de La Haboa nra evidaete meBtra
diviami; cada taller hizo s pwaneuiaddn
apart. Tambida he eflexionado much
mobe la evaluad6n quoe e hizo de nuearo
trbajo basda cn la propumeta del arte como
fiesta, como espq o de calebraci6n, como
canaval caibeno. Amnque ee ob o ties
intendanal, no es el ~aco qe nos ama. No
ws hizo alusin al im iicades political de
noestro tbajo: a t fundamaalnm~ nte
demoaWtico quo tam6 cm Cot al s ta loio y
apartades delos partidpantes,aI
integraci aciva de la commidd y d p6tico
en neatro ,eq r*m in la, isiaoAn eatfica

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

de materales de desecdo y sobre todo, so
dimension contestataa que coestion6 a travs
de la ac6n, ls elaciones social y las
prohibicones del trayecto pueblo-hoteL
Esta fetejamdo nuestra reunid pm-
america y nestra estadfa, a la vez que
estabamos etalblecedo la nmusidad de am
interca~nio total con nmstro anfitirons
mnudiatos. El sikno ante ce ekmeato
fuindanmtal de nuocstra prpoeta fe
revelador de una condici6n de auto-conumr
quno debiera existr c aIs Eacela
hernactonal de Teatro para la cual lapalabra
y l gesto liberador son so raz6n de ser. Ese
silencio foe adn mAB sgnificativo cando al
Ilegar a Puerto Rico leomos en les pci6dicos
viejoe que durante nuestro taller n Cuba se
habia denumbado el muro de Berlin y
nosotros no noe hablamos enterado.
Me ha tomado un aio ronper el
sincio nmo. Por fin exhalo el humo de la
memorial en este relate.

Dancing with Mr. Hesketh:
Jean Rhys, Dominica, and the Last of
the Caribs*
Pet Hulmhne

University of Essex

The significance of the West Indies
for Jean Rhys and for her work is now
generally recogniucd. There were, peihap
few obvious Canibbean themes in her ey

* This paper is based on alectme given in
October 1989 to me English Department at the
University of Purto Rico. As I noted on that
occasion, th genesis of this work lies in my
attendance at a symposium on WijdeSar
sa held under Dt auspic0 of the Department
of Comparative Literature at UPR thce years
eardir (the papers wee published in
SARGASSO 6). In essenen, the paper is a
prospectus for research yet to be undertakmh.

fiction, but then those books did not pt much
critical attention at the time hey appeared
Wide SaraM o Seamin 1966 was the first of
her novels with an ovlt West Indian
dimension. The importance of that dimension
was underplayed in the first remasmements of
Rhys, which tended to concentate aon the
psychology of her hercines and the formal
characteristics of her prose, but Rhys was
soon claimed as a Caribbcan novelist in some
important sms e by West Indian ctics like
Wally Look Lai, a view strengdm d by
Kemnflh Ramchand's colecton of her
Caribbean stories and by Teesa O'Connor's
recent book n the West Indian novels-by
which she means VoY g in e Iak and
Wide Sarasso Sea At the same time MdA
&SarmSa. in particular, has featured a a
touchstone for the recognition of questions of
rae and cdanialimu I am thinking he of
Gayati Spivak's references to the novel to
demonstrate the imnsularity and implidt
ethnoctricity of certain feminist crmidsm-in
this case Gilbert and Oubar's Th Madwom
min Atic
The growing awareness of the
importance of e West Indian dimension of
Rhys's writing has focused attention on her
life and on the relationship between her own
experiences and those of her herine. From
another direction feminist critics, too, have
tended to treat the novels a a kind of extended
autobiography, a fictionalized report on a
lifetime of victimization.
A whole set of very difficult
theoretical issues arises here, which I will
allude to without doing dhem justice. The
question of the relationship between life and
work is vexed at ihe best of times. Rhys is on
record as saying that it is the wrk that counts,
not at materials out of which that work is
constructed whichh is never an easy argument
to challenge), and some readings of her fiction
have made very rude and unjustifid mampts
simply to equate her protagonists and self.
These readings have been made easer by the
paucity of pdnted sources from which to
construct a biography (most editions of her
books still carry he wrong birthdate, for
example, a confuason Rhys seans to have
deliberately fosed); and by the possibility
tiht some of Rhys's mmonries" are manmories
of her own fiction rafier than of her "life." In

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

later life she somiimtes seems to have
confused herself with Anna Morgan in
Voa in the Dak and so remembered as
her own "biography" thing which sbh had
had Anna do a a fictional character.
Thee is only a fine line between a
sympathetic approach to Rhys's fiction as a
form of purgation-whidc is her own view-
and the establishment of biography a the
principle that govers interpretation of her
works-with the implidt suggestion that Rhys
is unable to control the fam and ideology of
her own texts. Rhys herself addressed this
question The thing you remember have no
form. When you write them, you have to give
them a beginning, a middle, and an end. To
giv life shape-4hat is what a writer does.
That is what is so difficult "2 My approach to
these questions is to suggest that the
shaping took place in both fictional and non-
fictional modes, in other words that there is a
body of writing-notebooks, store, novels,
memoirs-which pesent a ngagg of the self.
To read this work without under attention to
de conventional dividing-line between fiction
and non-fiction is not untrue to its shaping
As far as he Weat Indies is
concerned, the first point to mako isthat the
islands featme in hr books in inv se
proportion to their propinquity to her
expeincac. Leaving asid the return to
Dominica in 1936, which I will refer to later,
what I mean by that is two things. Rhys's
West Indian years w the yeas of
dcildhood, and yet by and large it is her later
fiction that dunonsates Caibbean trnm
and settings. And second, while her
"European" fiction roughly follows the
dchronology of her life facilitatingg that
mapping of protagonist onto uithor), de last
novel, Wid Sarsso Sea. is set decisively
back in time, in de 1840s. The date is given
by JaEv. but then the choice of JanEv
is not fortuitous. In some ways, then, ihe
most personal of her novels (in e sense that
its protagonist has the upbringing doest to
fhe childhood experiences of the author) is the
novel dat according to the calendar is most
distant and thefore most "anonalous." In
other words, one part of the complexity of
Wide Sargasso a is the way in which
different portions of Rhys's personal and

family history are lad onto the fictional base
provided by Ja E Antoinette's
childhood is in many ways Rhys's own-for
one thing they shae the same Mother Superior
at convent school. But Rochester is also a
version of Rhys's own father, a second son
making his way in the word and marrying
into an established reole family. And, further
still, Antoinette also has similarties to Rhys's
grandmother, daughter of the Lockhart widow
who wa left to look after Geneva in fe years
following Emanipation. Those are no longer
e p identifications allowed by dhe
ch=r7oo of te eadier novels.
particular argument I wat to
Sis that there ame some specifically
Do can (a opposed to generally West
Indian) elements of Rhys's life and work that
have not been given sufficient attention.
Dominica inevitably shares certain historical
and cultural matrices with other West Indian
islands, but it also ha peculiarities that set it
apart An understanding of these Dominican
clement con make a difference to our reading
of how Rhys shaped her body of work.
"Cultural marginality," the whole
question of belonging and identity, is an
obvious thane in Rhys's fiction, and critical
attention has tended to concentrate on two
particular aspects. In Wide Sar meo Sea e
emphasis has been on the position of
Antoinette between fle white colonial society
to which she belonged by birth and the blacks
like Tia and Christophize with whom she
formed emotional bonds; and more widely, on
the Cosway family, situated between the old
slave society to which they owed their
prosperity and dre new capitalists presented
people like Mason. In the rest of the
fiction, te heroines often seen as reol
women who have brokm with fle fading
colonialism of the West Indie but are never
able to think of themselves as truly
"belonging" in Europe.
That analysis is accurate enough. To
focus more dosely on Dominica is to be aware
of another split, though, between the white
English Protestant planters, dosely allied to
colonial offidaldam, and fe mulatto,
Catholic, French-speaking bourgeoisie,
sometimes fleelves players, more often
marchmats and shopkeepers who fought to
gain sonme degree of political control over their

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

affairs throughout the nineteenth century. It is
interesting how often Rhys or her protagonist
are posioniad as marginal to that picular
dominant ideology associated with ideas of
"Englishnes." Teresa O'Connor quotes a
revealing passage out of one of Rhys's
unpublished notebooks:

My relations with "real" little English
boys and girds (real ones) were
peculiar .. .

I nearly always disliked them. I soon
discovered the pecliarly smug
attitude which made them quite sure
that I was in sone way inferior...
If I said I wa Englih they at once
contradicted me-or implied a
contradiction-No a oolonial-youre
not English-inferior being. My
mother says colonials aren't ladies
and gntlemen, etc., etc.

If on the other hand Id my
exasperated, "All right the Pm not
English as a matter of fact rm not a
bit I'd much rather be Frech or
Spanish. They'd get even more
amazed at that. I was [a] traitor.
You're British they'd say ....
Neither one thing nor the other.
Heads you win tails I lose-And I
never liked their voices my better
than they liked mineJ
The protagonist of "The Day They
Burned the Books has a conversation along
these lines, which ends with her saying: It's
much more fun to be French or Spanish or
something like that-and, as a matter of fact, I
am a bit" (TMC 46). In her autobiography
Rhys refers to her facdnation with the
possibility that her great-grandmother was a
Cuban counties and in Wide Sargaso Sea
Antoinette's mother comes from Martinique.
These might all count as strategies of
alternative identification. As might, in a
different way, the interest Rhys took as a girl
in Catholicism (see S2 79).
However, dre more important
personal strategy, it seems, was the
construction of a Celtic family romaine, her
father's family Welsh, her mother's Scottish.

Of course, many colonists and imperial
officials were Wesh and Scottish, as a matter
of record. Whmatters, though, is the way
in which Rhys worked to build a pticular
kind o personal idetity out of this family
history. The traces of that pocess might be
seen in the gradual metamorphosis from Ella
Owendoline Ree Williams to Jean Rhys (a
Scottish Christian nne and the spelling of the
patronym closer to the Welsh original. The
same process might also be glimpsed in the
name Morga's Rest" she gave m Sl
BelMe to her father's second plantation
(actually called Emdia), thieby encouinging
her identifiation as Anna Morgan of Y age
min Dmak d confirming the Welshinie of
the name while adding to it the lstre of the
sevneenth-c ry buccaner (see TC 25).
"Name matter," as Antoinette says towards
de endof Wide SargaoSe
According to Rhys, her mother's
family, the Lockharts, w=e originally
Scottish, established on Dominica since the
second half of the cighieenth century, md
hated a prominent slaveowners before
Emancipation The burning of dhe house on
their estate Geneva is commonly supposed to
ha provided the mod for the bunrng of
Cou iin Wide SargaMso Sea. Coulibri
actually being te name of e tate adjmt
to Geneva on the south coat of Dominica. It
is not clear how mach of this family history is
really true. Jut to take two points. Thereis
nothing in the documnmation laid before the
House of Commons in 1845 to suggest that
GeOnva was burned down in the so-called
"GOuee ngre" of the previous yea, although
the house was certainly sacked and the
Lckhat family so deeply involved that one
member, possibly Jeans grandfather, was
admonished by the Colonial Seaetry for
damaging te houses of black workers on his
estate.4 And, once again, names seem
important. According to Louis James's
investigations, Rhys's greatgrandfather was
James (or John) Poter Lockhart of Old
Jewry, London, who died in 1837.
According to Rhys he was James Gibson
Lockhart of Scotlad. It is impossible to
dismmtangc Rhys's own family fictions from
the family history that wa passed to her, and
many of the discrepacies cm no doubt be put
down to the vagaries of memory in a old

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

woman. Neverthess, that intrusive
"Gibson" may be an unconscious wish-
fulfilment, John Gibson Loddhart (actually her
great-grandfather's cousin) being the son-in-
law and biographer of Walter Scott, the
literary antecedent that Rhys never had, and
somebody with impeccably Scottish
credentials. The denial, again, is of my
identification with a purely "English" worid.5
It has not been emphasized enough
that the years of Rhys's childhood and
adolescence in Dominica, say 1896 (when she
was six) to 1907 (when she left the island at
the age of seventeen), were years of dramatic
change. No full historical context can be
given here but I will mention one or two
markers. The years after Emancipation were
years of dedine for all the West Indian
islands. Dominica, as one of the poorest,
suffered most and, because of the mulatto-
controlled House of Assembly, made most
noise. Attempts to raise revenue through
property tax were stringently opposed. In
1893, for example, four people were killed
dming a not in La Plaine by troops landed
from the HMS Mohawk. As a result two
Parliamentary Commissions visited Dominica
in the 1890s, with Rhys's father named by
one of them a an important witness. Voting
money to Dominica became one of the planks
of Joseph Chamberlain's new policy for the
Empire, which was based on dict control
and aggressive development. Chamberlain's
instrument in Dominica was Henry He-keth
Bell, Administrator from 1899 to 1905,
during which time he was responsible for a
road-building plan, for installing ekctricity,
for connecting Roseau to Portsmouth by
telephone, for building a new library, for
experimenting with new crops like cocoa and
limes, for organizing hurricane insurance, for
writing pamphlets to encourage new planters
from England, and for creating the Carib
Reserve. He was, in a word, a dynamic
modernizer. Dominica is not an emay island to
modernize. Hurricane, disease, and
topography all fought back. Rhys's father,
for one, had to sell one of his plantations,
Bona Vista, after the coffee-crop failed.
Ramage, in the story "Pioneers," is a kind of
caustic comment on Bell's new Dominica.6
Bel occupiea an important place in
Rhys's memoirs. In the section of Smile

ame cald "The Zouaves" she recalls a
fancy-dress ball and its aftermath;

We had at that time a very energetic
administrator called Mr Hesketh.
That was part of his name anyway..
.. He improved the road out of all
knowledge and triumphantly carried
through his be eridea of an Imperial
Road across the island so that the
Caribbean and South Atlantic sides
were no longer cut off one from the
other .... He trd to take the
sewage problem but here eve he
failed. However he gave several
prizes for the best-drssed mask at the
yeary carnival and was a great patron
of the local cricket dub.
One day dhe rumour started that Mr
Heaketh was going to give a fancy-
dress ball for his little niece, who was
staying at Governmnt Housewith her
father and mother. The rumour was
trune, it was to be a fancy-dress dance
for children and the invitations were
sent out ....

As soon as I got to Government
House several people congratulated
me on my dress. And Mr Heskth
came up and asked me to dance th
first waltz with him. Among his
other accomplishments he was a very
good dancer indeed and like all good
danoers he could make his partner feel
she too was an expert .... I longed
for that waltz to last forever round
and round with Mr Hekskth's arm
about me. I stopped being shy and
managed to laugh and talk to him. I
waltzed three times with Mr Hesketh
and each time was better than the last
and I was happier. I went home, I
suppose, somewhere between twelve
and one and looking at myself in the
glass I knew that night had changed
me. I was a different girl, I told
myself that I would be just as happy
the next day, now I would always be

In the afternoons when I came
home from school I often went for a
ride .... So I was ambling along

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

when I saw in the distance Mr
Heketh driving a small trap.
The moment Isaw him I b em
very nervous. He was driving
towards Rose n, I was riding away
from it. We must inevitably meet.
He seemed to be coming along very
fast, I had no time to think what I
should say, to prepare myself for the
meeting as it were. Almost at once
we seemed to be side by side. He
took his hat off, waved it at me and
called something. Overcome with
shyness I tuIned my head away and
pretended not to see him. Then he
was gone and I rode on, knowing
that I had behaved in a foolish, bad-
mannered way. I tired to console
myself by saying that no one had seen
us, no one would ever know.
It was some days afterwards that
my mother said to me "Why wee you
so rude to Mr Heaketh?" I stared at
her and sad: "Do you mean that he
told you?" "Oh, he made a joke
about it," said my mother. "While we
were playing croquet he asked me
what he had done to offend you. He
said that you met him on the
Goodwill road and cut him dead. He
was laughing.,
I could only say that I didn't mean
to be rude. "You are a very peculiar
child," said my mother. re are
times when I am very anxious about
you. I can't imagine what will
happen if you don't lean to behave
more like other peoplek"
I didn't answer this, I only told
myself uat never again would Ilike
Mr Hesketh or think about him. I
was also very miserable. (2 89-92)

The incident has all the power of a
short story, although thee is no reason to
doubt its status as memory since Bell was
indeed visited by his mniece while he was
stationed on Dominica. There are various
sorts of resonance. Her account reads almost
as a rite of passage, a kind of sexual
awakening: Rhys would probably have been
thirteen or fourteen at the time of the ball.
Bell, of course, was old enough to be her

father, probably about thirty-six or thirty.
seven. That relationship, between older man
and young giri, is frequent in Rhys's fiction,
and is usually traced be to the early affair
that was fictionalized in VovaY in the Dsk.
Teresa O'Connor, though, quotes from
Rhys's notebook some of the details of an
encounter with a "Mr Howard" which,
O'Connor argues, leaves its mark on much of
Rhys's writing and finds its dearest fictional
form in "Goodbye Marcus, Goodbye Rose,"
where Captain Cardew touches the twelve-
year-old Phoebe's breasts in the Botanical
Garden and talks to her ceaselessly about
vadous ways of making love: "He'd explain
that love was not kind and gentle, as she had
imagined, but violent Violence, even cruelty,
was an essential part of it. He would expand
on this, it seemed to be his favourite subject"
(TW 62). Phoebe listens, and feels guilty
for having lishated "he thought of some
vague, inseparable loss saddened her" (64).
"Mr Hesketh" does not abuse his familiarity,
but he still repeats an early avatar of that
public, masculine, English word of business
and civilization and officialdom, that Rhys and
most of her heroines consistently fell foul of.
To meet Bel at hat ball, Rhys comes out of
her Catholic convent school, out of that
idealized community of women. In Rhys's
fiction, the only ground for the meeting of
those two worlds will be that of sexual
negotiation. Here the sexual awakening leads
to a recognition of diamge ("I was a different
girl'), dosely followed by a collapse into
misery as the older man betays her social
inadequacies to the collusive mother over a
game of croquet. Despite-or of course
because of-her denmmnation never to think
about Mr. Hesketh again, the encounter with
the Administrator reads as a form of
(retrospectively shaped) primal scene for
much of Rhyss subsequent writing.
In 1902 Haketh Beg had visited th
long-established Carib Quarter on the north-
east coast of Dominica to announce to the
Carib his intention of formalizing their
situation by means of a land grant He set out
with a vison of "the Caribs of the old days,
their fine physique, Ir heroism in battle,
and their engaging cannibalistic habits," and
r d himself disappointed at their
distresingly dun and prosaic appearancer7

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

In th middle of Vova in the Dark
Anna Morgan, deserted by her lover, writes
letters that she immediately team up, drinks
vermouth, and sings snatches of old songs:

"And drift, drift
Legions away from despair."

It can't be "legions." "Oceans,"
perhaps. "Oceans away from
despair." But it's the sea, I thought.
The Caribbean Sea. "The Caribs
indigenous to tis island were a
wadlike tribe and their resistance to
white domination, though spasmodic,
was fierce. As lately as the beginning
of the nineteenth century dhey raided
one of the neighboring islands,
under British rule, overpowered the
garrison and kidnapped the governor,
his wife and three children. They are
now practically exterminated. The
few hundreds that are left do not
intnrmarry with ie Negroes. Their
reservation, at the northern end of the
island, is known as the Carib
Quarter." They had, or used to have,
a king. Mopo, his name was. Here's
to Mopo, King of the Caribsi But,
thy are now practically exterminated.
"Oceans away from despair ...."
I at the lemon-deese tart and
began the song all over again. (VD

This reference to the Caribs comes
totally out of the blue. There is an earlier
quotation about Dominica, so perhaps we are
meant to assume that Anna canes a book
about Dominica around with her. Either that
or she has a very good memory. The
reference may, in addition, be undedaid by an
analogy: "The few hundreds that are left do
not intermarry with the Negroes" could apply
equally well to th white English on
Dominica. There is certainly a strong sense of
Anna's identification with the Caribs, fierce
spits, resisting white (and black)
domination, but now practically exterminated.
The Carib references in Wid
Sargasoea are along he same lines, but
more persistent. The first words spoken to
Rochester when he arrives on Dominica are

Ths is a very wild place-not civilized. Why
you come he?" (E 57). He has come to
a village which Antainette tells him is called

"And who was masscrd here?
"Oh no." She sounded shocked.
"Not slaves. Something must have
happened a long time ago. Nobody
remembers now." (55)

The massacre, as Rhys would have
known, was of te indigenous Caribs by
Eropean colonit It is as if the Carib
substratum of Dominica is something that is
kept from Rodcestrer "Every evening we
saw le sun go down from the thatched shelter
she called the Aiggpa I the summer house"
(74). The divide between nem is in part
linguistic, and Antoinette's language is here
Caib,peraps an aspect of what Rochester
calls the secret I would never know" (141),
the mystery f Dominica on which he can
never quite put his finger.
Rhys would not have been unaware
that when Antoinette takes Rohe m to
Granbois, th estate above Massacre that
corresponds to Rhys's father's second and
smaller plantation, she was filling out
Rodhester's West Indian episode with an
episode from her own life, when she took her
second husband, sli Tilden Smith, back to
Dominica in 1936, Rhys's only return visit to
the country of her birth. They stayed-
somneat ironically-at an estate called
Hamputead on the north-east coast of the
island, which she describes in he one
published letter witten in Dominica at that
time.8 A little inland from Hampstead is
another estate called Temps Perdi. The third
section of 0e story of that name, which was
first published in 1967 thoughh probably
written in the 1940s), explains he "temps
perdi" is a creole phrase without the expected
terary resonance, meaning simply "wasted
time," a phrase often applied to attempts to
tame he wilderness of Dominica

There are places which are supposed
to be hostile to human beings and to
know how to defend themselves.
When I was a child it used to be said

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

that this island was one of them. You
are getting along fine and then a
hurricane comes, or a disease of the
crops that nobody can cure, and there
you are-more Weet India ruins and
labour lost It has been going on for
more than three hundred years-yes,
it's more than three funded years
ago that somebody carved 'Temps
Perdi" on a tree near by, they say.
CG 155)

But Rhys dmies the Proustian
reverberations of the phrase "tps prdi"
only to give it her own literary IhaUnadIt is
from '"Temp Perdi" that she goes south to
visit the Caibs. (ThIIe is no independent
evidence that the story relate to a trip actuaDy
undertake, although I am going to assume
that it was based on an actual visit) Rhys
was only one in a long line of distinguished
visitors to the Caib Quarter, as she calls its
and a it had no doubt been known at me time
of her childhood. It seems that Rhys herself
never visited the norh.east coat of Dommica
during her eay years (a very difficult journey
from Roseau at the beginning of e century).
After Bell's official visit, anthropologists and
traveller have continued to visit and write
about the Reserve as place where the last
surviving indigenous inhabitants of the
Caribbean can be found, "the last remnants of
a fine race" as Bel calls them. In 1930 the.
English linguist Douglas Taylor had started
his long study of the Canib ("itis with the
purpose of recording, before it is too late,
something of this vestige of a once virile and
powerful people, that my own attempt at
nowmg them has been made"). Immediately
after the war, Patrick Leigh Fermor would
launch his career as a travel writer by means
of a dmnatic account of a visit to the Caibs
("a doomed race lingering on the shores of
extinction"). Rhys was not accessarily aware
of her predecessors, but nonetheless her story
stands m interesting county t to tir twin
concerns of ethnographic savage and racial
The first-peron protagonist of
"Temps Perdi" exprea.e a desie to see the
Cadib Quarter in the face of opposition from
her hostK "But I wasn't so easily put off. All
my life I had been curious about these people

beconse of a book I once read, pictme I once
saw" (WC 156). Idea about the Caibs are
exchanged with another nameless character
(presumably based on Rhys's husband) and
the overer of Temps Prdi, called Nicholas.
Eventually she convinces nthm to make, de
long trip on horseback, with a teenager called
Chi as their guide:

The day we went to the Carib Quarter
the wind was blowing heavy
luminous clouds acrom the sky,
tomenting the thin crooked coconut.
palms on the dslope of he hill opposite
the veramdah, so different from the
straight, healthy, glossy-green
coconuts just around the comer of the
road-tame trees, planted in rows to
make copra. (157)

The fiat person they meet is a
policeman, who guides them into Salylia, the
main Carib village. They come to a clearing
which contains a Catholic dmich and a police-

In the station de rifles were stacked
in a row, bayonets and all. The room
was large, almost cool. Everything
looked new and cdan, and there was
a crcular seat round fe palm tree
"We had trouble he," our
pceman told us. "Thy burnt the
station, and they burnt twenty feet
off this one while it was being built."
"Well, it seems they thought hey
were going to have a hospital. They
had asked mbe Government for a
hospital. A petition, you know. And
when they found out that the
Government was giving tdem a
police-station and not a hospital, there
was trouble."
"Serious trouble?"
"Pretty smious. They burnt dme first
own down, and they burnt twety feet
off this one."
"Yes, but I mean was anybody
Oh no, only two or hree Caibs,"
he sad. Two-thee Caibs were

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

killed." It might have been an
Englishman talking. (159)

(The reference here is to what is still refenred
to as the Carib War of 1930, to which the
present Caibs attribute many of their
The policeman tells them of a
beautiful but disabled Carib girl whom dr-y
ought to take photographs of: "She and her
mother will be very vexed if you don't go"

The gidl appeared in the doorway of
the dark litt bedroom, posed for a
moment dramatically, than dragged
herself across the floor into the sun
outside to be photographed,
managing her useless legs with a
desperate, courageous grace; she had
white lovely teeth. There she sat in
the sun, brown eyes fixed on us, the
long brown eyes of the Creole, not
the small, black, slanting eyes of the
pure Carib. And her hair, which
hung to her waist and went through
every shade from dark brown to
copper and back again, was not a
Carib's hair, either. She sat there
smiling ... (160)

"She sat there smiling." A gid being
photographed is one of the fundamental tropes
of Rhys's work. The original last section of
Rhys's first-written, Voae in lie Da&.
which ends with Anna's death following an
abortion, a section which she had to rewrite in
order to get the book published, opens with
the words "Smile please the man said not quite
so serious." These are also the opening
words of her autobiography, which takes
Smile P~ea its title. In Voae in h
Dak the sequence features as (he opening
scene in a series of hallucinatory memories
that accompany Anna's gradual lows of
conscousness. As with the inciddnt with Mr.
Hesketh, the girl is socially inept when it
comes to responding to an older man, a failure
for which she is scorned by her mother. This
time she moves her hand just as the
htaher is taking the picture: "A big Pirl
you m ashamed of you Mother mid.
Memory helps her to revenge. "Just me

second and you are ten years older" and
rnnemembering her nurse, Mcta, fanning her
mother's body to keep the flies away. Meta
was crying, 'but I was only thinking of my
new white dress and the wreath I would
The incident is repeated almost word
for word as the opening scene of Smfle
QeaM, but the emphasis here is on the
photograph that results (complete with raised
hand), which Jean looked at again three years
later, "realizing with dismay that I wasn't like
it any longer .... It was the first time I was
aware of time, change and the longing for the
past" (SE 19-20).
In retrospect-which is of course how
the soene was constructed by Rhys-the
tableau is full of hints of the relationships that
will ensue between Rhys's fictional heroines
and the older mnn in her life: the order to
comply, to adopt a particular bodily pose, an
order which the gi presents but with which
she attempts to comply.
The Carib gid is compliant, she
willingly smiles for the camera. At first sight
she seems therefore almost a counter-image of
Rhys's memory of herself at the
photographer's, although, if so, she has paid
the price m her los of mobility. But in a
sense her revenge is more subtle. The visitors
are here, like all visitors to the Reserve, to see
the Caribs, to see the physical characteristics
by which the Caribs are known as different
from the majority Afro-Dominican population.
The girl is compliant, even eager, but her eyes
and hair are typically areole, not Carib at all.

We took a few photographs, thin
Chadie asked if he might take the
rest We heard his condescending
voice: "Will you turn your side face?
will you please tun your fall face?
Don't smile for this oe." (I'hee
people are qite savage people-quite
uncivilized.) (160)

The protagonist's part in the
photography is obscured by the first-person
plural pronoun, but in any case she quickly
retreats to the role of observer as Charldie takes
over, allowing-the implication seems to be-
an identification with the "savage" gid whose
ready smile is now ordered to cease so miat her

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

face can reflect her people's lack of
civilization. The ethnographic distance bes no
doubt between visitors and Caribs, but the
female protagonist distances hemlf from the
male figures of authority (paiceman, Charlie)
in order to will midetifiation with the gil
on the other side of the camera, a situation
which has provided Rhys with one of her
fomundatimonal memories.
At one point in a easier section of
"Temps Perdi she imagines herself coming
out of the London underground on a dark and
cold day, knowing "that it will be November,
and that I shall be a savage pem-on-a real
Carib" (154). That identificationis also hinted
at in Wide Sargasso Sa Antointte's final
revenge is in a sene--a purely metaphorical
sense if you like-a Cab veng, bringing
together savagery and sade: heir
resistance to white domination, though
spasmodic, was fierce" (D 91). Since
mines matter" Jean p "smably knew that
"Rhys" is Welsh for ierce warrior."
One bride coda. Just before she died
Rhys told the writer David Plante, who'd been
helping her with her autobiography, that she
had something to give him, a present she
accompanied with a typically elusive gloss

"This is what I want to give you,"
she said and handed me t she et.
"Is the outline of a novel I wanted to
write caled ding in C. 1 C11ib
QMas. I won't write it. Maybe you
I asked, "Will you sign it?"
She wrote on it, in large shaky
letter that looked like Arabic scipt:
"Think about it It is very important."
She gave it to me.
She said, "Someone once told me
that. I wont tell you who." (57)12


1. Wally Look La, "The Road to Thomfield
Hall," NewBeacon Review ed. John La
Rose (London, 1968); Teresa O'Connor, Jan
Rbhw The West Tndia Novl, (New YoVrk
1986) Gayari Chakravorty Spivak, Thee
Women's Texte and a Critique of

Imperialism," Critical Inqum 12 (1985),
References to Jean Rhys's work are to the
following editions and by means of the
following abbreviations and are included
paihtically in the text Vovage in Dak
(Harmondsworth, 1969) (Y); Wie
Sargasso Sea (Harmondsworth, 1968)
(~S); Smile Plem: An Unflinird
AutobioNaphy (Hamondsworth, 1981) (E);
Tales of the Wide Carihhem ed. Kenneth
Ramchand (London, n. d.) (CW). The
growing body of Rhys criticism is surveyed in
Elgin W. Mellown, Jem Rhys. A Desriptive
and Amataled Biblioganhy ofWori and
Critim (New York, 1984).

2. Elizabeth Vreeland, "Jean Rhys: The Art
of Fiction LXIV," Paris Review 21 (1979),
218-37, at 224-25. Cf. Molly Hite, The Othr
Side of the Storm Stucmnes and Strategie of
Contporarwyv Fmnist Nrati (Ithaca,
1989), pp. 21-22. The whole issue is dealt
with in Nancy R. Harrison, Jean Rhys and the
Novel as Women's Text (Chapel Hill, 1988).
3. O'Connor, p. 19.

4. House of Commons, Accounts .Paps
(3.), 1844, XXIV: 235-49; (4.), 1845,
XXXI: 82-187.
5. Louis James, Jan Rhys (London, 1978),
pp. 2-9. (James gives both John and James
as th great-grandfather's first name.)
6. On the general background to the period,
see A. F. Madden, "Changing Attitudes and
Widening Reaponsbilties, 1895-1914," in
The Cambridge HisMry of fle Britih Empire.
vol. m (Cambridge, 1959). For
Chambedain's speeches on Dommica, see
Juliam Amery, ThLe Life of Joseph
Chamb i 6 vols. (London, 1932-69), II,
19; V, 21. On Dominican history at the tum
of the century, see Lannox Honychurdi, Th
Dominica Sa (Roseen, 1984) and Joseph
A. Borom6, "How Crown Colony
Govermnent Came to Dominica by 1898,"
Caribbean Sudiea. 9 (1969), 26-67. Bell's
memoirs a= Clinm= of a Govwmar' Life
(London, 1946). hys's father's evidence is
quoted in mhe Colonial Offic Report of the

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

Commission to Inquire into the Conditions
and Affairs of the Island of Dominica
(London, 1894).

7. Bell, p. 19.

8. Letters 1931-66, ed. Francis Wyndham
and Diana Melly (Harmondsworth, 1985), pp.

9. Bell, p. 21. Douglas Taylor, The Carbs
of Dominca (Washington. 1983), p. 109.
Patrick Leigh Fermor, The Traveller's Tree:
A Journey Through the Caribbean Islands
[1950] (Harmondsworth, 1984), p. 118. On
these writers, see my article forthcoming in
Caribbean Studies.

10. For an official account, see the Colonial
Office report, Conditions on the Carib
Reserve, and the Disturbance of 19th
September 1930. Domimca (London, 1932).
For a Carib account, Hilary Frederick, The
Caribs and their Colonizers (London, n. d.).

11. For the original final section of Voyae in
the Dak. see Nancy Hemond Brown, "Jean
Rhys and Vovag inthe Dak." Laondo
Magan 25 (April-May 1985), 45. Cf.
Deborah Kelly Kloepfer, The Unspakable
Mother: Forbidden discourse in Jean Rhys
and H. D. (Ithaca, 1989), pp. 75.78.

12. David Plantc, Difficult Women; A
Memoir of Thiee (London, 1983), p. 57. The
version in Plante's, "Jean Rhys: A
Remembrance," Paris Review 21 (1979),
23884 (at 284) is slightly different.

Theater of Friction: New Currents in
Puerto Rican Theater*

*Originally published in Spanish in Exgis
(1990) of the Colegio Universitario de
Humacao of the University of Puerto Rico.
The English language translation is by Aileene
Alvarez, and the article is included here with
permission of the author. Some minor

Rosalina Peraks

University of Puerto Rico
Humacao, Puerto Rico

After a flourishing workers' theater in
the first decades of this century, the Puerto
Rican theater languished and did not re-
emerge until the 1940s. In fact, the present
trends in Puerto Rican theater would not have
been possible without the efforts of this
generation of the 40s.
The history of modern Puerto Rican
drama began when a group of theater
enthusiasts headed by Emilio S. Belaval and
Leopoldo Santiago Lavandero formed the
Areyto group. Even though the company's
life was brief--one year-the germ of theater,
nourished by the efforts of the group
members, grew. The following year both
Belaval and Santiago Lavandero went on to
offer theater courses at the University of
Puerto Rico, where they urged the creation of
the Drama Department-an important factor
since, until very recently, it was the only place
in Puerto Rico to offer theater studies.
Santiago Lavandero is responsible for turning
the university theater into a public institution
with lasting social impact, especially since
from among his students sprang the drama
teachers who went from town to town with
the University's Traveling Theater (el Tcatro
Rodante) helping to regenerate island theater.
The dismntegraed Areyto became the
Tinglado group in 1941 and the Escuela del
Aire (School of the Air) in 1944, and held
together until 1959. In 1951, the
Experimental Theater of the Puerto Rican
Ateieo (Atheneum) was founded. Thanks to
these pioneer groups, the Institute of Puerto
Rican Culture organized the First Puerto Rican
Theater Festival in 1958. which in spite of
political and economic ups and downs has
been celebrated annually and without
interruption since that year.
From that moment on the way was
paved for the development of Puerto Rican
theater: theatrical production began to
increase, theaters were constructed, others
were refurbished, and in 1980, the Fine Arts

editorial changes were neceary in the
English language version. (Editor)

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

Cenkr (d Centro de Bellas Artea, a physical
plant with three separate theatre to
accommodate divee theatrical and musical
perfonnanoes, was inagurated.
In her book Litean p- torriqu
su pro o ea l tmpo. he critic Joseina
Rivera de Alvarez divides he Puerto Rican
theater of this centuy into various
genemtions. First come the generations of the
30s and of 1945. Rivera de Alvarez considers
the second group to be the most durable and
influential in Puerto Rican theater (the wodks
of Ren6 Marques, Francisco Arrivi, and
Manucl M&dWez Ballester have become de
classicsc" of island heater). Tim critic then
mentions what she calls the "Genration of the
60s" and says that although its members show
quality, theme is also a lack of contimnity.
Finally, she mention s e "Generation of
1975," charcterind by realistic ad crude
description and language plagued by four-
letter words. (Anoher clarification has beeo
established by playwright Roberto Ramos
Perea, who mentions two cycles begimnng in
1968 and in which he indudm those
playwrights Rivera de Alvarez mentions as
part of the 60s generation.)
I want to dissent from the above-
mentioned categories and, wfening to the
great diversity of expression that has
developed in Puerto Rico since 1960, talk
about what can be called a "thatr of
"Friction" ha various meanings: the
rubbing of one object against another, the
resistance of a mechanism, disagrment, or
conflict. All of these convere in Puerto
Rican theater, but me last two as especially
Although Puerto Rico's history in the
p century differs from that of the eat of
Latin America, it is no les complex. For
centmies, Puerto Rico has lived he ambiguity
and lack of definition that characcrized its
status as a colony. Political and cultural
duchange that came in 1896 made the island
lethargic. Today, only a fraction of the
country has awakened from diat stupor, while
the frictions that pervaded in the opposed
factions have broken out again. Hostility and
resentment have inceamd during the last two
decades, and h theater has not bee exempt
from that state of friction. In many ways, the

heater has been a reflection, a microcosm of
the state of tension in which the country finds
For 20 years (1948-1968) there was
contimity in Puerto Rico's politics. The
Popular Democratic Party, which favored
autonomy, won electi after election with
little opposition. Under its administration the
Puerto Rican Theater Festival was celebrated
year after year, presenting works by the same,
already known anmors and with Ae same
subject matter nostalgia for the peaant (
jhaW), the conflict of national identity, the
evocation of the islmd's lost past, and socal
eclcticism. The dramatic structures and
todmiques we traditional and Ae
productions satisfied a already official
audience. The Festival's expectations had
already been fulfilled.
In 1968, tbh country was takm by
.mpne by e dchage of Ae governing party
the New Progressive Party, with its
annxationist vision of tarniag Puerto Rico
into one of the stars of th North America
flag, was in power. From that moment on,
perspectives on Puerto Rico danged. The
people became politicized, Ae different
ideologies becmore moe maded, me most
charged supporters of independence
reappeared, md Am public conscience became
keener. Even though e Popular and New
Progressive parties have shard political
power i the years since 1968, a sense of
ability and animoity prevails among the
people. And that unae voiced as
aggression, that socio-ideological friction is
what forced the appearance of new tendencies
in island theater.
Thus, Ao Purto Rican thater of the
past two decades is not a homogeneous
movement or Ae progression of new
generations every five or tIn years. If heater
is, a Barthes ha described it, an
informational polyphony, in Puerto Rico this
polyphony refers not only to me signs of the
texts but also to thi tendenies under tie
influence of which Am text is produced.
Puerto Ricane eater is ruled by fragmentation,
by the stmization if its creator ad creations,
and, wost of all, by internal conflicts. In that
way, theater production hm been a jigsaw
puzzle comprised of disociat groups, some

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

performing well, others not so well Hence, a
theater of friction.
But it is also a theater of friction
because from its beginnings in the middle of
the 1960s forward it has tended to be harshly
critical of the country's economic, socio-
political, and historical situation. And when it
does not criticize those situations, it consumes
the individual for not acting against them. I
will now try to describe this poignant theater
which disagrees with its surrounding
environment by speaking, first, of the
dramatic tradition of(l) the playwrights of the
1930s and 1940s, (2) the transitional writers
of the 1960s and 1970s, (3) and the "New
Dramaturgy" movement of the 1960s.
Secondly, the discussion also outlines
developments in Popular Theater from the late
1960s to the present.
In 1965, thatrs in Puerto Rico were
still producing the writers of the 30s, 40s, and
50s& Ren Marqu6s, Luis Rediani Agrait,
Gerard Paul Main (although he is somewhat
younger), Frand co Anivt, and Manuel
Mndez Ballester. They all continued
producing their old plays at the same time that
they published and produced new ones-a
henomenon that has continued until today.
The language, structure, and themes siflated
between the traditional and the avant-garde.
Nevertheless, their efforts to rejuvenate their
drama-as Rcn6 Marques tried to do with E
apartammiMto (IThe Apartment)-did little to
satisfy newer audiences. Thus, a new wave
of playwrights began to shake the theater with
new forms that broke with established
traditions. Three basic tendencies originated
in this reaction to the traditional drama
A. The first tendency is represented
by Lmis Rafael Sanchr and Myna Cass.
Both are [or have been] university professors,
which has given them more opportunities to
publish and produce their plays. Thus, they
construct their plays fully conscious of theater
history and new dramatic treads. However,
no relationship exists between the styles of
these two playwrights. Myma Cass remains
strongly shaped by absurdist trends and hers
is a more personal kind of theater. Sandiez
started by writing short, uncomplicated plays
that transformed structure and announced the
themes and language which dcharactrize his
mature works.

In spite of the friction his success
causes, Luis Rafael Sandhez is generally
recognized as Puerto Rico's most important
writer, and his dramatic works figure in that
assessment. Even though he publishes less
and with less frequency than many others of
his generation, his work is varied, serious,
and powerful. Within a total dramatic
production that integrates monologues, farce,
drama, and comedy, two plays which have
been successfully staged in Puerto Rico and
abroad stand out: La psi6n sen An mona
ez (The Passion According to Antigone
Perez; 1968) and Qatople (Quintuplets;
Like many other playwrights before
him, in La p.i6n segin AngonaM Prz.
Sfindez re-creates the andent myth of
Antigone and her confrontation with Crean.
What is interesting in Sandhez's version is that
she becomes a thoroughly Latin American
Antigone: modem, revolutionary, symbolic.
The play's unspecific setting opposes any
Latin American dictatorship. wth this play,
Sanchez makes it clear-without screaming or
pres ing a thesis as his predecessors would
h that even if it does t experience reality
in the same way, Puerto Rico is part of Latin
America and feels a strong solidarity with it
Antigmo will main a Latin American
heoine as long as she is willing to put the
principle of liberty before her own lif. She
says, Killing me only instills me with more
life. I want to become new blood in the veins
of the bitter America" (120). Thus the play
concludes optimistically by guaranteeing
America's [not just North Americas] future.
QuOplcs. written and produced
nearly 20 yeas after Andegans mLz is a very
different dramatic pice. Itis a nmady
actionless drama. Two acts deliver the
monologues of six different characts: five
siblings-the quintuples-and their father.
Each one narrates a presumably spontaneous
monologue about his or her life int the after.
There is little continuity between the
monologues-they can be considered as
autonomous expressions in a roughly
expressionist structure-mnd it is Papa
Momison, the father and last character to
speak, who incorporates t. others into the

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

The most interesting aspects of the
work are the play of language, the use of
theater for theater's sake, the esthetic game of
creation, and the excellent portrayal of
characters given by ead performer. At the
play's end, the actors change and remove their
make-up on stage, thus destroying the
theatrical illusion. All he above-mentioned
characteristic have provoked attacks from
other plawights who claim that ple is
not so much a dmna m a playful game of
language ad performance. But to quote
Pierre-Aim Touchard, "Perhaps the success
of a piece which people do not understand
when it is read does not spring from the
written as much as from the unwritten text, the
play as interpreted and performed by the
The existentialist elements which
appear in Sanchcz's early works, as well as
the elements of realistic sodal citicismn,
further evolve in Qufatupl toward a newer
emphasis on language and increased
exaggeration, humor, and joking.
B. Angel Amaro, Jacobo Mmrales,
Luis Tones Nadal, Jaunie Ruiz Escobar, and
Jaime Canro, among othem, represent a
second tendency that reacts against traditional
drama. The work of these writers, with the
exception of that of Tones Nadal and Camro,
is characterized by discontinuity. They do not
write very much or very frequently.
Generally speaking, their plays are realistic
but, different from the style of the preceding
generation, use modem structures and a more
natural language (solemnity and rigidity have
been abandoned) to focus on everyday life. It
is a social theater but full of lyrical and formal
concerns and strengthened by the variety of
texts produced by its members.
Jaime Caero is one of the most
consistent dramatists of the 60s and 70s, as
well as the author of plays of great quality
such as La caj de caudales (The Strongbox).
Because of his meticulous work as both writer
and universety professor, he could be
considered in closer relation to Myrna Cams
and Luis Rafael Sanchmz. However, his
perseverance in presenting cuunt social
themes, as well as his consistency in form in
treating those themes, place him in dcloe
ration to this se d group of writers. He
prefers to write short plays, exposing his

ideas with seriouness but without
exaggeration, and at times recurring to a
poetic-ymbolic tone. Elag Inle. which
press the suffering of many Puerto Rican
fam who received the dead bodies of their
sons during the Vietnam War, serves as an
example. Carero's plays cannot be
experiments or games that play with form.
Having also worked in popular theater, his
purpose is to reach an audience through the
immediacy of his themes, and he succeeds in
doing so.
C. The third tendency is represented
by only one person; Cados Fumari, an
Argetinian director and playwright, who has
lived in Pouto Rico for many years. Hehas
studied the country, its history and customs,
with watchful eyes, and be mockingly pours
everything he sees on sta- Vter being
widely applauded for his Rico.fua
(staged with Teatro del Senna [one of Puerto
Rico's best known companies]) at the
beginning of the 1970s, he then benne
somewhat marginalized because of his
nationality, his fondness for satirizing local
customs, and his festive interpretation of
island history.
In ite of e waning of his lucky
star, Fenari has continued waiting plays and
staging thm on his own with a small theater
group ninterrutedly for more than ten
years. The friction his theater produces, as
well as its importance in Puerto Rican drama,
is obvious, especially since it was Feari with
his Porto Rico. fa who began to lure a mass
audience to se Puerto Rican theaer-pulling
them away from filmunakrs and making them
laugh and think about their own history. He
is the only playwright in Puerto Rico with his
own theater, open year-round, to produce his
Following Ferrari, musical plays,
satires, and farces have proliferated-for
example, La wrd ra histia de Pedro
Navai, a Puerto Rican Beggar's Opera met
with great success in 1979-80-and in spite of
fe distance between them, perhaps Premier
Maldonado is Ferrari's doset folower.
These three tnsitory tendencies
which began in fe 1960s feed into the self-
proclaimed "New Dramatrgy" Gnva
mamirgia) of the 70s and 80. This ew
group which, according to Roberto Ramos

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

Pcrea (1985: 13), constitutes the current
avant-garde of Puerto Rican theater is
characterized by its close look at reality as
illustrated through a series of new themes that
they have introduced to Puerto Rican dram:
open homosexuality, women's liberation,
police repression, the corruption of
government institutions, the questioning of
political forms, etc. They have also
incorporated new techniques (for example,
new uses of theater space), experimental
structures, a new relation between audience
and performers, and a language which they
consider revolutionaryy," consisting of
everyday speech with generous amounts of
vulgar expressions added. That is also why
they criticize Luis Rafael Snchez's plays: his
work depends on stylized language and an
esthetic play of words.
This new theater has its origins in the
work of popular theater group (to be
discussed below), and by 1987, three of its
representatives have demonstrated original
achievements: Roberto Ramos Perea, Teresa
Marchal, and Carlos Canales.
1. Roberto Ramos Perea tered the
Puerto Rican theater scene li a whirlwind in
the 1970s. His personality, like his plays, is
daracterized by dynamism and agreUSive~s.
It was Ramos Perea who baptized the theater
that developed after 1968 as the "New
Dramaturgy." He organized the Society of
Puerto Rican Playwrights; he and two
colleagues founded Intmnedo. Puerto Rico's
first theater journal; he has struggled to
convince the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture
to celebrate a festival of "new dramaturgy"
parallel to the traditional Pocrto Rican Theater
Festival; he has demanded that the production
of plays by new writers be encouraged and
subsidized; he and other associates are
prepping a Paerto Rican theater history and
chvesf he is the most active member of
his generation, he is also the most
controversial. His grudges-he is also a
journalist-extend from writers of the stature
of Luis Rafael Sanchez to the directors of the
country's highest cultural institutions.
Ramos Parea's works fall into the
combative category of social theater but
consciously follow a style elaborated by Ren=
Marqu6s more than that of guerrilla theater-
tiles such as Revolumd eneLd fie

(Revolution in Hell), Revolmnmia el miso
(... in Heaven), Revolhdn en cl purg io
(... in Purgatory) provide an idea of the
style. Ramos Perea feels and lives the. theater
from the perspective of his surrounding
reality. He disagrees with island playwrights
who develop anti-realistic techniques or who
write theater as if it were a game. Mala san
(Bad Blood), a recent play about the
immigration of Puerto Rican professionals to
the United States, attests to that. In the same
terms that Ranos Pea attributes to the "New
Dramaturgy," the innovation of MalanMe
resides in its themes, in its revealing of the
problems of today's Puerto Ricans: women
better prepared than men to face life's
problems, ever-present macho-ism, women's
liberation, patriotism, and the reality of
colony-metropolis. He offers no solutions
because there are none. Only the future will
show where these themes lead.
2. Teresa Madichal is a young
dramatist who started writing in such varied
forms a puppet theater and guerila theater.
In 1981, in the midst of a violent strike at the
University, Professor Victoria Espinosa,
together with a group of Drama students,
created the First Univerity Drama Encounter.
Works by Marchal with allusions to the strike
and problems in the University were among
the plays presented. From that moment on,
she has devoted herself to a prolific diversity
of theater expression-serious plays,
children's theater, experimental theater,
puppet plays, etc.-producing some of the
most imaginative works of the "New
Like her associates, Marichal
criticizes society, but she does not forget
theater forms and categories. Conscious of
her craft, she labors intensely on each of her
pieces. She plays with form as well as with
content and thus experiments with themes,
tendencies, and structumes-for example, some
of her work follows absurdist and poetic-
surrealistic lions. She does not always
achieve the hoped for results, but she persists
in searching for forms which better portray
her personal ideology. Furthermore, of the
"New Dramaturgy" writers, she has
introduced some of th most daring of
situations. Her 1985 play, P o &I aJardhc
(Evening Stroll), for example, develops a

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

conflict between the words and action of an
artist (poet) who smans to be avant-garde and
a conservative mother who protects her son.
The final shock of recognition comes from a
role reversal the mother has killed her son
and the poet, filled with horror, turns her in to
fth police. The play also dunonstates an
intsing use of textual space that
incorporates a rhythmical game with a poetic
3. Carlos Canales, a playwright who
had fallen into deep Natmulisn with his play
Corupcon (Corruption), has started to
explore a new fantastic vein almost unknown
in Puerto Rican drama. In casa d los
inmortales (1985; The House of the
Immortals) a playful dimension of character
appears. This technique, over-worked in
fiction, has repeated itself in many plays, and
even in the development of historical actionin
the same text, at least from Pirandello
forward. However, within this most necunt
attempt in Poito Rican theater to re-create
immediate reality, the tendency proves
In La a de Iosinmortales. the
dichacters unfold doubly in the present (the
twentith century) and the past (the niteeath-
century period of slavery). This duplicity of
ne is used to explore thmes of
reincarnation, destiny, and right and wrong.
The play eds with the hope for the triumph of
good over evil, a rare theme in the
contemporary theater. Whre Carlos Canales
find this approach? Did he consciously
develop it? Fernando de Toroexplaim the
emergence of new esthetic forms by saying
that "a form of expression [Realism, in this
case] arrives at such a state of deterioration
that a new expreaion satisfies no more than
the rquirenets of the border of rising
expectations." He adds that "the production
of a text that manifest that new form can also
introduce those new expectations" (204).
Pourto Rican reality of te pot 20
years also helps to interpret this phenomenon.
Politics, at the same time static and changing,
orints the combative stance of the writer.
And in Puerto Rican literature, it is through
Realism and Naturalism that the batok takes
place. Since 1968, dramatic expresson has
been a form of prost and complaint and,s
in the past, Reali has served to dmmnel it

It seems that Cmales tired of diectner and
opted for representing that reality in a different
way to try, if only in esthetic terms, to
transform it.
At the end of dhe 1960s a strong
popular tAer movement, with its own
consciousness of ruptre and renovation,
emerged parallel to the developmts in Pourto
Rican drama. The first group was El Tajo del
Alacran ("Te Scorpion's Sting) directed by
LydiaM MUagros G zlz. They presented
short plays priicpally for young audimenes
about contemporary problems and issues.
With her piece l Ammto Rincan (Pnerto
Rican Lament), Gonzaez strikes down the
jQ (peasant) thieme, demnostrating a
different reality and arguing against remaining
inthe Other groups such as Anamt, La
Tea, Moiv, The Guenilla Theater of the
University of Puerto Rico, and other theater
collectives followed the lead of El Tajo del
Alacran. These wee theaters of socialist
propaganda and experimental techniques
(oftm using the methods of Augusto Boal)
which radically departed froman the
conventional theater which had, up to that
moment, been the only option of therical
expression available. The change in themes
and tendmiques wee absorbed by the
playwrights of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s as
well, even though many continued to work
with different formats and purposes.
Two popular theater groups made
their first appearances in the 1970s and
continue producing to de present day. The
Teato Pobxe de AmErica (a "Poor" tear
more in Boal's than in Grotowski's meaning)
is directed by Pedro Sanaliz and presents its
productions in parks, town squares, and poor
neighborhoods, drawing many of its actors
from those sane sectors. The other group is
Teatro del OGran Quince greatt fifteen ,
orgially directed by Zora Moreno but more
recently by Moncho Conde. Interestingly,
this second group emerged front a miserably
poor barrio where vice and problems-but not
healthy distractionabound. Zora Moreno
organind the group with community members
and wrote plays ctical of the state of neglect
in which the govmnaent had left these
communities and social passes
The most recent popular theater
group-Los Teatreosx Ambulntes (The

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

Traveling Players)-directed by Rosa Luisa
MArquez also springs from the work of the
post-1968 groups. Even though their work is
representative of popular theatr--intially they
worked with large puppets and head masks-
the group has been fonned through the efforts
of accomplished intellectuals and follows an
entirely different style. Rosa Luisa Marquez,
who had participated in the popular hear
movement of the 1960s and 70s, is a
university rofessor and related to more
"academic figures. Moreover, one of the
most important Puerto Rican graphic artists-
Antonio Martoen--collaborates as an active
member of the group. This "street" theater
collective has been strongly influenced as well
by df work of Peter Schumann and the Bread
and Puppet theater in the United States. The
group elaborates spectacles that combine all
the arts (approaching a kind of "total theater")-
- painting, the fabrication of puppets and
costumes, music, performance, discussion
with the audience, street music, everything-to
achieve better communication with the
spectator. In addition to being popular,
MArquez's theater has been accepted and
supported by critics and institutions and that
places it and its relation to other popular
theater forms within the realm of friction as
Since these groups remain very
productive, their work will no doubt continue
to improve, benefiting not only Puerto Rico
but all of Latin America. That means that
Francisco Arrivfs proclamation (1965) is still
valid today: "Puerto Rican playwrights have
struggled for years not to suffer by being too
nationalistic or to die by being too universal,
and today, as never before, they are drawing
doser to an interesting equilibrium between
both needs" (7).


Amvf, Francisco. Teatro prt0mauq o:
Sptimo Festival de Tearo del
Institito de Cultura PuMMto umda.
Barcelona Edidones Rumbo,

de Toro, Fernando. Semi6fica del k o.
Buenos Aires. Editorial sala ,

Ramos Prea, Roberto. "De c6mo y porqu6 la
Nueva Dramaturgia Puertomqueif es
una revoluci6n." Intcncdio afo 1,
vol. 1 (1985).

SAndnez, Luis RafaeL La mionengn
Antigona ftez- Poerto Rico:
Ediciones Lugar, 1970.

Touchard, Pierre-Aim6. (Commentary quoted
in] eia del ro byRaul
Castagnino. Buenos Aires Editorial
Plus Ultra, 1967.

Humour In Cuban Community Theater*

J. R. Pereira

University of the West Indies
Mona, Jamaica

A wide variety of theatre traditions
have been credited with influencing the
development of popular and community
theatre in Cuba. Among these are the popular
comedies and enmmeses of the Spanish
Golden Age theatre (especially those of Lope
de Vega), particularly in relation to the gan
de rladones in Santiago, the West African
tradition of Ko aa satirical dramatic
entertainment. Wit and humour played its part
in these traditions, often simply for
entertainment, but at times with critical,
polical implications. Simplicity of
expression, concentration of issues,
incorporation of music and dance, total
flexibility of "stage" setting and improvisation
tended to emerge as features of this theatre,
consistent with its colectivist nature. Nor are
these features unique to Cuba, but replicate

* Originally presented at the 9th Canfrence on
West Inidan Literature, St Lucia, May 1990.

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

themselves in many sodetim and point to a
underlying universality of cultural expremon.
Responding to th renewed and
focused urgcies and eamnestmes of popular
revolution and stale support, community
theatre in Cuba could be said to have taken off
in the late sixties. Although various
community efforts preceded it, including the
Teatro Cabildo de Santiago, it was the
formation of the Esambmy Theatre Group in
1968 that proved the analyst for a new type of
theatre whose structuring was guided by the
revolutionary objective. Out of this
experience was inspired a plethora of
community theatre groups, not only rural but
Sergio Corrieri, leader of the
Escambray group, set out the prmciples
behind this new quest

"Theatre is a shaper of conscioumne;
theatrical activity should be aimed
essentially at developing senmbility,
thought and criteria as an
indispensible stop in the formation of
a full peron; theatre should pose a
living communication with the
spectator and if possible make he
spectator become so integrated into
the spectace that e becomes the
spectacle itself, the actors beings
conscious prvokrs of a collective
confrontation of ideas.

In this context, community theatre
becomes not only a theatre for community
participation aimed at the cones of the
community but rquires U collective
integration c stage and audience. Ideas are
more important thn emotive responses,
relations between dchactrs on stage lea
imp than the impact of daracters on
aud It is a aitical theatre, but critidcim
of what? Does the "monolithic" stat permit
cntiasm of the Revolution itself, or does it
focus on criticism of forces that stand in the
way of the evolution?
Within such a theatre, what
posiblities are there for humour? We all
know that humour is a deadly weapon of
criticism, of political devastation, of catarsis.
What play is given to hummour, then, in a
catical and consciousnesm-onted theater

Can it become a strategy for political
engagement? The Escambmay expeaime and
its offshoots soalized dramatic creation.
While the ext may have been dvoped by a
single author, it was cetanly i and
polished by collective reaction, and the pre-
text p rations m ere very much con-text
oriented. Anxiousat this new theatre should
create its public and believing at the only
authentic way to do so was to give back to the
audience those cancer that were dominant
amongst th specific community, te group set
about an extensive preiminary research in
interviewing a wide range of people, not only
to identify dominant concerns but to gather
specific cases, ways of thinking and
expreing and attendant objective rather tan
intuitive delineation of the community. For
example, its first major original work, La
YgiaL, was developed after interviewing
some 170 tizens of the area. With such an
arrest, "scientific," realist backdrop, does
humour have a chance a a technique or tone?
One of t problems of humour is that
it tend to be "at the expense of." What may
be funny to one group may be a deadly affront
to another, as Rushdie (sic) can testify.
Often, humour has been at the expense of a
race, a class, a gender, a group. In sucd a
situation, it has tended to assume an
exclusivity of identity on the part of hose who
share the humour, and conversely an
alienation of those who are the object of
humour. In Carbbean theatre, dass
distinction have provided humour over
generations. The mimic class had enjoyed
itself over the linguistic and siuatioal
"ineptitude" of the servant or peamsat unable to
team the culture of the colomzer or ruling
class. Conversely, the working people got
their own back through take-offs on the
remote stiffames of said sector. In Cuba, the
blade buffoon, the peasant Galiegan migrant
and the mulatto woman became stock
charact in nineteAn&-contury Havana
midde-clasms atre, eating raher lasting
stereotypes. To urban Cadbbeans, the
country bumpkin has frequenly been
projected as a joke.
Escambray Theatre, starting with the
pindple of respect, although with
contradictory comments about de cultural
backwardness of Ut peasantry, deady was

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

not invested in projecting the peasant as
backward buffoon, but as a person with real
problems, emotions and aspirations. La
VitJma,2 =cated in 1971, sought to grapple
with the problem which was fundame l
estranging peasant from revolutionary state:
land ownership.
Ironically enough, the revolutionary
state, having shared up some of the latifundia
among the peasants and squatters in the heady
days of the Agrarian Reform Laws, soon
found that, with increased central panning
and control of the economy, it needed those
very lands to establish state fans and
centralizd communities. "La Vitrina" was die
name given to a dairy complex involving large
pasturage and dairy herds as well as dairy
industry infrastructure. The peasantry was in
fact being encouraged to voluntarily self-
destruct and become works in a cdlective
farm and citizens of a centralized new
This situation brought the traditional
values of the peasant regarding land
ownership into collision with state values of a
macro-economy and society. Contradiction is
the staff of most theatre. How to tackle this
problem through theatre was Albio Paz's
challenge in his very first play. His solution
drew on distancing, humour and its extension,
the absurd. Given the widespread concern
and doubts among the peasants at surreading
their aired ty for a not necsaeily
convincing better life, it was not going to be a
question of creating a scenario of a minority
group of backward thinkers to be mocked by
"correct" characters
Paz, accordingly, adopts a
generalized humour devoid of schematirm.
No specific dcharactr can be seao to be the
voice of revolutionary wisdom, nor any
character to be a real villain all have
weaknemes and strengths. There is one
exception to this, however, and that is the
Explotdor (the big farmer of pre-
revolutionary days). This Exploiter appears
briefly at the height of the controversy on
stage to suggest that, though he, tainted with
the dass stigma, has to tow the official line,
the rest, being peasants in whose name the
Revolution had cut him down to aima, could
refuse to comply. The leading propont of
incompliance attacks him roundly, physically

and verbally as she diases him off dihe stage,
exclaiming at his shameleasmes in trying to
place his ideas into their heads. There is, in
this, a division drawn between treating the
problem within ihe homogenous class and
extra-dclass subversive interference. The
comic retreat of dithe Explotador is just desserts
at the same time that it delimits who is
legitimate in this conflict. The peasants'
revolutionary commitment is not questioned,
but their self-seeking is explored.
The conflict is posed by a farcally
exaggerated situation: Ana, a peasant wife,
seeks to bury her husband Pancho on his own
land, notion the cemetery. The Land
Commissioners try to get her to change her
mind since they must deliver the land
(voluntarily) to the state. The tizens who
drop in on the wake joining the debate. A
realist approach clearly would have presented
problems, but playing just for laughs was not
the intention. The comic technique, then, is
itself a medanism for distancing,
exaggerating the atde ades to self-interest and
excessive materialism, some of which border
on dread humour, such as the character who
laments that he does not have a retarded child
to get the supplement die gover nmat was
providing in dme compensation package.
Further critique of die materialist
venialities is presented through exaggerations,
such as Ana deciding to bury her husband
with his machete, to the dismay of those who
see a good scare commodity being wasted, or
later, to bury him on his horse, which refuses
to jump into the hole. Death and burial, thez,
are exploited not for emotional sympathy but
for symbolism of the moribund values
regarding land ownership. Indeed, ironic
humour is used in bringing about the actual
death of Pancho, since it is die couple's
mistaken bdelf that the Commissioners have
arrived to take heir land dat ise final cause
of Pancho's death, whm in fact they have
come to inquire into his health.
This symbolic, comic use of death is
earned former by the absurdist technique that
bring the play to its final climax, when
character begin to fall dead and then come
back miraculously to life. As part of this
exaggeration of egoism, Ana begins to fight
the resurrected Pancho over the piece of land
she thought she had inherited by his death.

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

Paz, after initial rehearsals, added a
musical group that comments on the
occurenes in the play to help explain the
significance of this tedmique within their final
moralizing intervention that wings the
audience back to the serious intent of the farce:

It doesn't matter if we aren't dead,
one can die living,
merely by persisting
with a way of thinking
that isn't adapting
to the world that s emerging. (78)

The final music puts the problem back
in the lap of the audience from which it had
originated and reminds us that the laughter has
not been intended for catharsis but as a
strategy for engagement:

We have been laughing here
at this different situation,
but we mustn't forget
that for today's problems
the apr ate solution
is neth laughter nor team;
we have to set our minds to thinking
se that we can see grow
this world which, as it emerges,
must do away with the old. (79)

Music, informality of language,
familiarity of situation have been
supplementary techniques to facilitate humour
and receptivity. Thee arm several little
vignettes of humour within this overall comedy
of death. Slap- is used when Ana
intmnitly boxes her daughter whether she
supports Ana or opposes her viewpoints. Fun
is poked through witty exchanges over certain
consequences of revolutionary life such as
imports of Russian beef-which doesn't seem
to have gone down well with the people. The
formalist adoption of Leinist party practices
is ridiculed, when Ana shouts loudly for self-
criticism at the shambles egoism of those
who would wish for retarded children for
additional hand-outs. This grand self-
righteousness is countered quietly by a
character who replies: "No, sir, what is
needed here is for people to stop being so
opportunist and slf-seeking" (53).

One may well ask whether techniques
of the absurd can be sprung upon a rural
community unexposed to a theatical tradition
or sophistication of television or cinema. It
has already been pointed out that Paz added a
musical explication of tedmique to ast in
the communication. From verbatim extracts
of discussions with audiences after staging, it
would seem that some confusion did exist
regarding how to interpret the deaths, but
certainly, most interpreations expressed
revealed an understanding of what the
symbolism and farce was about.3
Out of the Escambray Theatre Group
experience came a deeper appreciatim of e
intellectual ability of the peasantry to deal with
subtle issues or techniques, reducing the
paternalist approadi lurking in many an urban
mastituon-ducated mind.
The rural audience wa also les
trained to self-reemsion than urban
audiences. Sergio Cormri recounts the
responses of his audiences:

Sometimes, we didn't understand
why the audiences laughed at
particular somes, something which in
Havana we would have taken as a
lack of respect; he we realized that it
was the best reaction of all; it was the
laughter of someone who sees
himself in the mirror for th first time
and says: "But is that really me?" It
is a laughter at times nervous, at times
satisfied, in short, with many

Importantly, the laugher of the
audience changed character after they had
actually moved to the new township (La Yaya)
and saw the play staged again a couple of
years after its initial presentation:

You had to see the faces of those
peasants when they saw LaYiiU.
how they laughed, after living in the
new town and being delighted with
the life there. They laughed at what
they used to beJ

Paz, however, was surprised that they did not
seem to perceive tir specific selves in the
peasants depicted; with their new-found

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

changes and expeiencs, they had ceaed to
identify with those peasants "Those are
some pretty backward peasants" seemed to
have been their attitude now-nothing like
laughing at somebody else's expenses But
that is a different result from laughter as a
strategy for aitical engagement.
Altio Paz again found himself using
humour as a dramatic technique in a play [E
paraso recobra developed in 1971 around
the political problem of the activities of
Jehovah Witnesses who had been winning
converts in the area. The problem rests in the
unwillingness of the witasses to participate in
many of thi revolutionary programmes
because of their religious conviction of non-
involvement in politics as they await
Armageddon and the earthly paradise. In this
situation involving a minority group with
which the state had no sympathy, it was easier
to use humour as ridicule of the proponents of
adversary beliefs. However, it was not until
the third version of his play, by 1973, that Paz
settled on humour as the appropriate vehicle,
having found his earlier "emous approaches
inadequate for galvanizing the andinc.7
The mumcians in this vemon a used
as an ironic voice, apparently and initially
supportive of the newly-leamned theological
sentiments of the Witnesses, but gradually
yielding to their more innate musical traditions
of celebration and festivity rather than
religious hymns. The leading Witnes, Sarah,
never too comfortable with this indigenous
hybrid of secular and religious music,
eventually loses control over them, and their
ultimate practical "good sense" nerges in
ironic revelation of te hypocrins and illusory
idealism of the sect. One optional ending of
the play uses them to break into a fete dhat
moves from stage to audience and transit
beyond the drama, so making the community
share in the celebration of the triumph of
common sense over propaganda.
Another major source of humour rests
in the powcdfl character Babilonia. whose
name is itself ironic and who has been won
over by dre beautiful language of the
converters, but who herself is very much a
practical person whose own linguistic
storehouse of proverbs resenting popular
wisdom is used in naisction of the
viewpomints of de Witnesses, deflating &em in

comic counterpoint. There is a bit of slap-
stick too, in Babilonia, as when she hiccups
loudly during the most seious preaching of
Sarah, the leader of the Witnasses, especially
on those points of political difference. She
also makes several ironic asides directly to the
audience, distancing it from the mythic
teachings of d sect.
The contradictions between the
material world and idealist world-view of the
sect form die core of the play around the
conversions of Juancho and Noemi, who hold
on to the promise of their dead child's return
to life and Edelmira, who seeks her plot of
land and livestock in die promised Paradise.
These motivations am depicted precisely
because he pre-text research had indicated that
they were frequent aspirations exploited by the
Witmanes for converts. Both sets of converts
fall back on their socio-political reality when
the congregation becomes embroiled in a
quanel over land allocation in dte coming
Paadise and the disillusioned turn on the
leaden of de sect and chd e eman out The
audience is invited to participate in this routing
of the Witnesses.
That the leader of the Witnesses,
Sarah, is from outside e area and does not
speak with te peasant pronunciation of the
rest of fie dcaractrs helps to alienate her from
tie audience. Her own political intentions
behind religious activity are conveyed by
comic slips of the tongue, and her final flight
despairing at her quanelling converts leads to
humorous linguistic juxtaposition:

Moises (Calling after her) Sister,
die divine word!

Sarah: (Off stage and as if continuin
Moises' n cz To hell
with it!

Ridicule of the Witnesses is also the
technique used by Flora Lauten in her
offshoot La Yaya Theatre Group's short play
Los herm os which has various similarities
with Paz's play.8 The Witnesses are even
more caricatured, and from die start they are
projected as comic characters as their names
suggest Thumina (unminated) and
Vencrando (venerating). The play, however,
centres around an episode drawn from reality

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

of a young man who had been persuaded to
join the sect by the promise of amistano in a
ate creates two preliminary
episodes of conversion, as Paz had done, both
ludicrous and reflecting idealist aspirations
which the Witneses profes to be able to
satisfy. Soledad (sohtude), whose name is
symbolic, wants her little house and conceives
of the post-Annageddon Paradise in material
terms. Ultimately, when the Revolution
offers her a real house, her belief in the
Witnesses will fail apart The second convert
is as comical: Duldta, the mad-woman of the
district, whose fondness for riddles goes
beyond the entrance to the Kingdom Hall with
humorous results when solemnities are
shattered by her riddle-posing. Again, her
ambition in joining is to get her son out of
military service-altruismm is but opportunism
in disguise.
The main comedy is situational and
lies in the story of Cheo, in love with
Margarta. The Witnesses offer themselves as
go-betweens and develop the age-old theatrical
deception: Cheo is made to think Margarita is
a Witness and Margarita is made to think Cheo
is one. Choo attends da Temple impatiently
expecting Margainta. His insstence on getting
some results from his involvnent in the
Temple leads luminado to impersonate
Margarita and invent messages and for much
comic misunderstanding to develop. When
the young couple discover that they have been
deceived, they join forces in routing the
Witnesses, and as in Paz's play, involve the
audience in the climax. The light humour is
assisted by the love songs between Choo, the
disguised luminado and then the real
Marga ta, although the music does contain its
pedagogical observations.
The naivet6 of the Witnesses is
underscored in the conclusion of e play
when fireworks ae set off. Ilimmado and
Venerando rejoice at what ey see as ithe
approaching Armageddon and their salvation
m their moment of crisis, to be countered by
the ironically juxtaposed question of ome of
the daracter "What's hat? A man going to
dle moon?" (51) The belief of e Witnesses
is subtly symbolized as anschronistically pre
scientific, behind the levels of undemtadng
of the peasant community responding to

revolutionary transformation. In this play,
dhre is absolutely no scious dimesimn to the
pathetic foolishness of the Witnesses, unlike
nrecobrao. where de Witnesses ae
politically-motivated hypocrites.
One of the casualties of this new
artistic expression is another type of humour.
Reading the evaluaions of La Yaya Thatre
Group, one comes across an nteesting
comment by a satisfied citizen who
complained of the poor taste of pe-Yaya
cultural expression, citing the cultural
segments at accompanied mass
political functions, which segments would
include samee demsia with verses loaded
with indecent imagery and double meaning"
which she saw as at odds with the political
issues being raised.9 For her, La Yaya
Theater provided "a truly artistic reaction of
great usefulness." One is reminded here of
the "slrnadme debate regarding Jamaican
popular music, or the vital tone of calypso.
Amorous liaisons also formn part of
he structuring of an example of the Mo do
relacons k dit De c6mo, Stingo
Aputol pM loas is en la terra developed by
Radl Pomares and the Conjunto Dramtidco de
Oriented in Santiago. As with Launen, Pomares
targets a minority group for ridicule: the
Spanish colonial establishment.
The play explores the appropriation
by the colonized and enslaved of the most
sacred symbol of Spanish imperialism: SL
James, the patron saint of Spain, the warrior
saint who led them to expansionist victories.
This is the ultimate mockery: turning the
dominating symbology on its head. Santiago,
by the pressure of transculturatin, is
appropriated as the warrior god Ogun, who
stands by dthe people in their struggle against
The buWa is achieved in e play by
symbolic roles: die Spanish church, state and
upper class, standard arms of the
Establishment, are depicted through Bishop,
Governor and dre widow noblewoman Dofa
Giomar. Hypocrisy is dithe keystone of the
Governor's behaviour as he decrees a curfew
to put an end to lasciviousnees when i
himself is having a liaison with die widow.
The Bishop is scandalized at sexual
immorality but comfortably supports the
repression of tie slaves. The morality of the

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

ruling class is seen in its double standards as
the morality of self-preservation.
In counterpoint, the slaves mimic
their hypocrisy in a play-within-thc-pay,
wearing masks of the ruling class. They
attract Santiago [James] with their absence of
artifice and falsities, and after liberal
groundings with rum, he gradually identifies
himself as Ogun. They parody the Catholic
litanies to highlight the brutality behind the
genteel mask of the Spaniards when faced
with political resistance.
When the Spaniards believe they are
invoking the Apostle Santiago against the
rebel slaves and independence fighters, they
discover that all they have is but a fade. The
corporeal Santiago has descended the pedestal
to be with the rebels as their warrior god who
supports them in putting the oppressors to
flight. As with community theatre, music
plays an important role for tone, commentary
and identification, climaxing the play with a
cathartic celebration that embraces the
What the play shows behind the
burlesque is the ability of the oppressed
classes and races to appropriate the powers of
the state not merely or even mainly by
confrontation of arms but by cultural
subversion in which cultural expression plays
a strong role, since that is where the
oppressed have been left to gather strength.
This may well be an interesting
ideological insertion into revolutionary
politics, because although class struggle had
erupted into armed conflict and Cuban society
was being given orthodox interpretations in
class terms, black Cuba still had its own
problems within and with the revolution, in
which contending for its own space was not
by dint of armed conflict but at times by the
more sublteranean if slower weapon of
culture, especially music and dance and the
strengths of an identity-providing religious
tradition. Not that Pomares was setting up a
"Black Alternative," rather his play was
extending the insertion/assertion of the African
component of Cuban identity. Santiago, after
all, is, ironically, at once the city that bears the
name of the symbol of Spanish expansionism
and the city of greatest bla concentration and
culture in Cuba. It is a rich dialectical symbol
of historical and contemporary Cuba.

In these three examples of community
theatre groups, it can be seen that humour is
not employed for its own sake or even largely
for entertainment, but as a technique for
political engagement and social mobilization.
That the humour is not at the expense of the
revolutionary state is because the dramatists
and theatre groups in themselves are
committed and convinced revolutionarines
seeking to change the socio-economic
imbalances in their communities, yes, but
perhaps more than anything to engage their
fellow citizens in critical transformation of
"the fibres of the self as a necessary part of
the dialectics of transforming the external
material world.


1. Sergio Corrier, "Documento inddito,"
TaaM (oct.-dic. 1988): 7.
2. Albio Paz, Ta=t (Havana Lctras
Cubanas, 1982): 23-79.
3. Laurette Sejourne, Teatro Ecambrav:
Una Exprinca (Havana& Ed.
Ciencias Sociales, 1977): 150-58;
242-62; 286-304.
4. Sejourne, 116.
5. Sejourne, 311.
6. Sejoumrne, 313.
7. Unpublished manuscript. The published
version of E paraso recobrao
(Havana: Letras Cubanas, 1979) is
slightly different
8. Flora Lauten, Tatro La Yaya (Havana:
Letras Cubanas): 23-51.
9. Carlos Espinosa, "El teatro en manos del
pueblo," Con2umto 27 (encro-mazo
1976): 6.
10. Raxl Pomares, "De c6mo Santiago
Ap6stol puso los pies en la tierra,"
ConJunto 31 (enero-marzo 1977): 73-

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

The American Experience in
Puerto Rican Drama/
The Puerto Rican Experience in
American Dramal

John V. Antosh

Fordham University

Pouerto Rican drama is Amekrica
drama, American in the fullest sanse, drama of
all the Americas. As Americans, Puerto
Ricans stand in a unique relationship to other
Latino cultures; as Latinos, they enjoy a
distinctive place within the diversity of
American culture. The result seems to be dhat
Puerto Rican playwrights have been perceived
as margial to several literary heritages at
once. In the last thirty years more than a
hundred plays by Poerto Ricans have been
written in the United States, dozens of dnem
produced with great theatrical success.
Although these plays have been popular, less
than a dozen of them have been published.
The time is ripe to bring them into libraries
and classrooms and to begin the academic
debate that will allow these plays to find their
place in the canon of American dramatic

I. Backgrounds

The Puerto Rican literary heritage has
focused historically on the jAM ("peasant" or
freehold fanner") as national folk hero.
Freighted with moral and spiritual qualities
that mtracond physical traits, the jarm
traditionally has persmfied de inner life of
the national character. Wheder Puerto Rican
writers were carving out their own cultural
features within the Spanish domain, or, after
1898, within the American spI e of
influence, a consistent strain of all the island's
literature has been to preserve the distinctive
character of Puerto Rican identity. Modern
drama in Puerto Rico appropriated to itself the
moral persona ofthe j0a= when it began in
1938 with the founding of the Areyto Group.
Under the leadership of playwright Emilio S.
Belaval, the Group produced new plays
-xploring Puerto Rico's cultural past and
alyzing contemporary problems. Other

playwrights-like Manuel MWndez Ballestr,
Francisco Anivi, and Luis Rafad Sancez-
wrote highly psychological dramas of the lows
of identity as well as realistic plays sensitive to
the emerging urban society that was
dislodging the traditional social structures.
The most portan playwright of them all
was Rena Marqus (1917-1979) whose play
La canetarThe ) is tie bridge between
island and mainland drama.2
Not in any of the artm, not even in the
novel, has Puerto Rican individuality
emigrated to the United States more effectually
than in dihe drama. In 1954 Roberto
Rodriguez Suarez presented La amea by dthis
little-known (in the U.S.) playwright at the
Hunt's Point Palace in the South Bronx. The
story of a j[ba family that migrated from the
mountains of Puerto Rico to dthe poor section
of San Juan and finally to the slums of New
York City told a moral tale of disconnection
from dth land, dte vain pursuit of maetricious
values, and the loss of one's soul. The
people's hunger for a theatre that addressed
their vital needs, a theatre that gave shape and
moral significance to their lives, expressed
itself in the community's response. The five
performances over a single weekend sold out;
hundreds of people lined up for tickets the
following weekend only to be told there
would be no more performances. Twelve
years later fe highly successful English
language production of The Oxart in 1966
moved iriamn C61lon and others to form the
Puerto Rica Traveling Theatre in 1967 so
they could bring this play to dte people of
New York free of charge. Funded largely by
Mayor John Lindsay's Summer Taskform,
they mound thirty performances that summer
in parks and playgrounds all over New York
City. The groundswell beanme a movement.
The Ox set the standard, the tone, the
political attitude, and die direction of Puerto
Rico drama in New York for the next thirteen
This movement was also part of a
larger creative theate experimentation die
sixties that saw the birth of "off-off-
Broadway" theatre. Dozens of small, non-
traditional compares sprang into existence
and created a cmat of theatre-going for
everyone, not just for intellectuals and theatre-
buffs. Places lik Caffe Cino, Cafe la Mama,

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

Judsons Poets Theatre provided a venue for
new plays; groups like the Living Theatre, the
Open Theatre, th American Plae theatre,
Circle-in-the-Square, Cirdcle Rep, and the
Manhattan Theatre Club, to name a few,
actively promoted new plays, new
playwrights, new ideas. In all this ferment the
growth of many Latino theatrical comnamis-.
like The Family, I t Afro-Caribbean oey
Theatre, INTAR, Duo, more recently
Pregones (1979) and even mor recently the
Shaman Repertory Theatre (1990), among
others-have also helped to develop new
American plays by Puerto Ricans.

II. The Early Puerto Rican Dramatists
of New York: 1966-1978

The plays about the New York
experience between 1966 and 1978 are the
plays of the Puerto Rican diaspora. They are
characterized by a mood of exile,
bewilderment, confusion of desire, and a
longing to return "home." Tone and feeling
bind these plays together more than
chronology. A common concern is the loss of
identity and spiritual strength as a result of
acquisitivnes and egotismn. The
contradictions within Puerto Rican culture are
exacerbated by some of the perverse social
values in American culture. Some plays
depict the loss of a spiritual center when
migration is motivated by a spurious
materiaism; others expose the egotistical traps
of machimo and the corruptibility of feininne
dependece. They citicize Puerto Rican
weakness as freely as American values, but
they ar plays that essentially look backward
to Puerto Rico and a return to an agrarian
Eden. Most of these plays end with the main
characters retuming to Puerto Rico or dying
without fulfilling their desie to turn or
having their bodies shipped back to Puerto
Rico for burial in the wann sunshine.


R6 Marqu6s, The Oxcart

Roberto Rodriguez Suarez, The Betrothed.
The Windows. The MiMtant Otria II
tde Whitghoose. 1blli XIV Mghtgardan;

Jaime Carrero, Pio Subway no sabe refr. Sm
bandia Noo (New York), ITh EM

Pin Thomas, The Goldm Steets and PiL
Papoleto. and Pedro. directed by Pabio

Pedro Pictri, The Mamnes Are Asses:

Joseph lizardi, El madfi Tht CommitmenL
The Block Party. TheAgsgcoaL Dim

Oscar C61on, Soldies of the 117th. Welcome
to Magaret's Wodd. Siempre mi corazdn.

Jaoobo Morales, She. That One. He and the

Ana Lydia Vega, Beat for Four Losers:

Tom Mulett, The Blue B or The M al

EstrUllaArtau, Marine

L.is Rdchani Agrait, i1cmpnia
Victor Fragoso (with Dolores Prida), Lam
Pedro Juan Soto, The GOmt/Scibbles/he

Miguel Algadrn and Tato Laviea, OQi

Roberto Ramfiez, Do They Cany "Bustelo"?.

MII. The "New" Puerto Rican
Playwrights of New York: 1979-1990

A. The "American" Plas of Puerto Ricans:

These plays of the last decade are
about the end of the sense of exile. They are
cdaracterized by a sense of arrival,
breakthrough, achievement, and opportunity.
As these plays develop, their American rather
than their Puerto Rican interests become much
more evidet. The ovebearing piety of the
older generation is no less destructive than the

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

misguided secularism of the new ghetto
Umtreprneurs. The spuitual centr of these
"New" Puerto Ricans, born on the mainland,
must be found within themselves somewhere
between the Scylla of their parents' old ways
and the Charybdis of the street ways. When
Edward Gallardo's play Simpon Set
opened in 1979, it not only set sell-out records
and brought to a new high the movement to
return ethe batr to the people (as opposed to
an intellectual elite), it also spoke directly to
the feelings of the new Puerto Rican New
Yorkers. It spoke to that second generation
who have no root memories of the island and
who regard New York City as "home."
Having been dislodged from the traditional
Puerto Rican communal structure and the class
and gender markers of one's place in it, these
keen-eyed products of the migration strife are
looking forward in these plays with a
pioneering spirit to all the challenges of an
ever-em~rgent society and their new identity in


Ni The eny fm Hea M Man Un

Bill Vargas, The King of Dominos ad Naked
Among the Wolves.

Jack Agueros, The News from Puerto Rico.
Makers of the Night Sun. No More Fat

Reon Calvo, Out and Down at the Horror
HAL Cowm The Iron Hoe. AL
Cintia Cruz, The Bapti and The Gova Bean

Migdalia Cruz, Lc Loves Me. Miiam's
Rowers. Dreams of Home Tcn Tales
ectra Hero Dream. Cigaretes and Mobv-
DiskL E&L Welome Back to Salamanca.
When Galaxy 6 and mfe Branx Collide. The
Touch f a An Have-tt Oliver Street
or A Queein ofFaith Street Sense. FdM&

Eva Iopez, Recordos and Madene

Edward GaUardo, B In Another Part of
. Nobody Ever Says Goodbye, Walz
Around the MWn-Go-Round. Crdelia. A
Little Spice ... And Thinp Not So Nice The
Maggwr, Simpson Steet The Wodd of
Muddy Waters. Aredto depeecadomes. Ballad
of a Silent Man. Women Without Me;

Candido Tirado, Some le Have All he
1^gk Ki&U Withoatl a e Caagbh nJthe
Triangle. rst Clas. Who's Next?. The11lc
The Barber Shop. Don't Whisper. ]]e Ca

Federico Fraguado, an Bodega,
epio An Island Called BrotdwTy:
Eduardo Ivan L6pez, The Three of U
Shadows of Two Women. Sah es
Mindcape. Frontiiapiece A With a
View A Silct Thnnd-, Fireflies:
Richard Irizanry, Aa= and The LaJst Paco

Eugene Rodriguez, The at Man at L
urd Sophia's Revenge. M s Ninet

Frank Pdrez, Living for Yesterday. lp
Abita Next Stop. SMbwis

Ivete Ramirez, FamilySene

Carmen Rivera, Bliss, TheUivene. ITbink
Th meforet I am B ming ameRican lna

Linda Reyes, The FirstLool
Yolanda Roddquez, Second Na :
David Shnchez, The T Point

B. Street and Prison Plas

A special place should be set aside for
the plays ofJfiguel Picero and Juan Shamsul
Alam. These plays go beyond the culture
shock of the eadier generation to fhe extreme
alienation of street gangs and prisoners. They
cut acro the categories of theme and feeling.
These plays grow directly out of a theatre
workshop for inmates at the Bedford Hills
Coactional facility. Marvin F6lix Camillo
began fhe workshop in 1972. The experiment

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

waso successful inside that several of the
inmates waned to continue their theatre work
on the outside. With a nucleus of ex-convicts,
Camillo put together a repertory company that
became known as The Family. The earliest
success of this company was Miguel Picro's
Short E3y that won the Drama Critics Cirde
Award and an Obit for the best ff-Broadway
play of 1973-74. Marvin Camillo also won
the Drama Desk Award for the best dizect.r.
Pifero continued to write plays until his death
of dchosis of th liver at age 41 in 1988.
Pifero's most promising protg6 in
this line of theatre is Juan Shamsul Alam, a
promising young Puerto Rican
actor/playwright who also spent a short time
m prison. Shamsul has written more than a
dozen plays along with several movie scripts,
and he has extended the range of his writing
beyond anything Pifiro ever attempted. His
eary play Bepi explores Mhe psychology
of how a street gang often provides the only
structure for some youths' sense of loyalty,
belonging, and pride. However brutal the
mindless violence of the streets, the story is
told with humor and wit The title which is
the name of the gang is take from the
members' inability to pronounce or spell
"vampires." His most recent and most
critically acclaimed plays-Extr Midiht
Bl- Zook-epexplore the impact of dte
Vietnam War and AIDS on traditional family


Miguel Pifero, Sort Eves, yfor a Small-
Time The Sun Always Shines for the
CaL A Midmight Moon a the y Spon
Every Form of Refupe Has Its Price. Ewa
Tzilet Cold Beer. T mhe Gun Tower. Iing
Sideow Tap Danring and Bruce Lee Kicks:

Juan Shamsul Alamr, BPlla. Bepis.
Vials, Accession. Define Staggle T,
Sweet Staff. On the Roof. Hw a
pam. h HaIlemo &i Pra dif EAt ereanc.
Midnight IlNe=. Zook ga.

C. The Puerto Rican Plays of "Americans"

Pregones Touring Puerto Rican
Theatre Collective has come down on the
other, the Puerto Rican, side of the margin.
Their plays emphasize Purto Rican history
and the inspiring side of the Puerto Rican
heitage. hese plays are a blend of old and
new. Some of them look backward over the
whole tradition of island and mainland drama
from the perspective of the eighties; other
plays address the cunrnt aspirations and fears
of the Bronx community: getting into college,
teenage peer pressure, drug dealers, AIDS,
sexual problems of all kinds, the politics of a
better life. The sometimes bitter strife
between migrant paent and more accultmated
children has given way to an unabashed pride
in the struggle for Punto Rican indepedea.
The politics of these plays are decidedly more
Puerto Rican than Ameican. Even the style
of anonymous group composition of plays
puts into practice a Puerto Rican political ideal
of voluntary cooperation between individuals
and groups. Pregones has sponsored a
distinctive style tat spurns the psychological
realism of the American theatrical mainstream
and offers a more lyrical, musical mode of
drama. Many of Pregones' plays draw upon
the whole tradition using Tamo legends, the
poetry rentals that were often staged in private
clubs or homes, and even the zWZoca (comic
operettas) of popular theatre. However,
Pregcnes bknds fthse elements of music,
dance, oral history, and poetry together in an
innovative structure of aesthetic integrity.
Pregones Touring Theatre originally
sprang from the community need for an
artistic voice to express ft lives of Puerto
Ricans living in the United States and to
validate the cultmal ties between island and
mainland. In 1979 three actwa-Victor
Fragoso, Rosalban R61lon, and Luis
Mdlndez-formed a touring company that
played fthe streets, schools, senior citizens'
homes, and other community centers. In
1981 Victor left fite group but Rosalban and
Lms made the political and artistic decision to
move to fte Bronx to engage in a community
activist theatre with other actors, directors,
writes-Eduardo Carrasquillo, David
Crommet, Gilberto Diaz, and Xiomara Tonrres
Later, Alban Cdon Lrspier, Jorge Merced,
Judith Rivera, and oters joined them. In
1986 Pregones found a penrmant home in St.

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

Ann's Church in the Bronx, but the company
still continues to tour. Alvan Cdon Imspicr
gives a sharp insight into the Theatre's
comuaity work in the Bronx and even in cities
outside New York. By visiting a community
ahead of time and talking to local people Dey
are able "to function as mor than a company
of artists that comes to set up, perform, stilk,
and leave." Their perfounances "become part
of an ongoing process-an activist campaign,
festival or cultural program-within the
community." Pregones hus exists as an
alternative theatre dedicated to integrating art
and life in a way that will trafonn the
community and eventually a whole culture.4


Pregones Theatre Company, Colecdin-One
Hundred Years of Pucrto Rican Theatre. A
ropWito P opA a
anam CanataaLa Migrant= Voices

Alvan Cdon Lcspier, The Caravn
Jorge Merced, The Embrace (with the
Pregones Company) and ImAgm de an
pa (with Rosalba Rdlon)

Rosalba R61on, I.a iima mimi. Remote
Control and TmImes dc un padre (with Jorge

IV. Conclusion

These groupings are by no means
precise nor exhaustive. Many plays crom
over or transcend altogether the categories in
which I have placed them. Also, I have
included only those plays that are available in
English; most of them a rein both English and
Latino Theatre in New York is still
enjoying un an florecimento. With more
than twty legimate theatre companies
throughout the City and dozens of free
programs for learning acting, directing,
playwriting, and so forth, Latino Theatre has
become a force in New York Theatre. Critics
have been writing about Latino Theatre,
Hispanic Theatre, Chicano Theatre, Black
Theatre, WASP Theatre, Women's Theatre,

Gay Theatre; but no one has yet written a
book about die considerable contribution
Puerto Ricans, as a separate group, are
making to the Amrican Theatre. About a year
ago Iset out to write an article about Puerto
Rican dramain New York. The only
published plays in English tat I could find
were those of Miguel Pifo. Later, I found
three other plays. I realized then that the
problem would involve more than I had
anticipated. Before I could begin a critical
dialogue about these plays, I had to get them
published. The fist volume, SimsStiet
and Oer Plas by Edward Oallardo was
published last February [1990]. A second
volume, Five Puerto Rican Plays of New
YXk, will be published in February 1991. A
third volume is finished and with the
publisher, but no date has been set for
publication. At least four other volumes of
plays are planned.
What will be the future of Puerto
Rican dramain New York? Who knows? I
leave you with two anecdotes to ponder. In
response to my "Author's Query notice in the
New Yok me asking for infoanation about
Puerto Rican drama, a young Puerto Rican
aspiring television writer wrote me that he had
a couple of plays. But, he said, the plays had
nothing to do with Puerto Ricans; he did not
want to go that "ethnic route." On the other
hand, last summer after the highly successful
TeatroFestival at Pregones, Dolores Prida
explained that the "goal of Hispanic Theatre is
to reflect its own reality and not attempt to
cross over into Ut so-called mainstream. In
the future... the majority of the United
States population will be of non-European
extraction. Then... we wi be the

1. The published essay is the edited version
of a talk given at the lOh Annual Convention
of th Speech Communication Association of
Puerto Rico, 7-8 December 1990.
2. For further information see George R.
McMunray, Sash American Wrting Since
1941: A Critical Survey (New York Ungar,
1987); Rosa Lmsa Marqucz and Lowell A.
Fiet, "Puerto Rican Theatre on the Mainland,"

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

Chapter 16, E ic Theate in the United
Stas ed. Maxine Schwartz Seller (Westport,
ConnmLondon: Greenwood, 1983): 419-46;
Manesba Hill and Harold Schlider, Eahl
Rican Authors: A Biobibliograhic Handbook
(Mctuchm, NJ: Scarecrow, 1974).

3. For further descriptions of Puerto Rican
drama in New York before 1966, see
Nicholas Kanellos, A History of HIpanic
Theatre in the Umtd States Origins to 1940
(Austin, Texas; U of Texas P, 1990).

4. See Alvan C61on Lespier, "ITag
Prgons Finding Language in Dialogue,"
Reimaging Ameica. The Arts of Socal
Change, eds. Mark O'Brien and Craig LittU
(Philadelphia: New Society Publishers,

5. As quoted by The New York Times. "Arts
and Leisure Section" (29 July 1990): 36.

Elements of the Absurd in Jose
Triana's Medea en el espelo

Alan Persico

University of Guyana

Latin American theatre has,
particularly over the last ten to fifteen years,
been recognized as being among the most
impressive and most prodigious in the world
today. Although it is evident that much of the
contemporary theater in Latin American shows
marked European influence-through works of
dramatists such as Henrik Ibsen, Bertolt
Brecht, Lmigi Pirandello, Antonin Artnd, and
Jean Genet, to name a few-it is also evident
that in many cases the Latin American
dramatist has significantly modified the
European model with startling success.
The eminent and authoritative critic of
Latin American theatre, Frank Dauser, makes

the following observation in a very perceptive
Keynote Addree

Theater as a game, as ritual. and as
role-palying is rooted in European
drama, but I know of no European
work which uses these concepts as
effectively or in such an anginal
fashion as does Joe6 Triana in La
noche de los asceinos. In a
somewhat different form they are at
the omre of the best work of Cados
Gorostiza, Isaac Chocr6n and
Griselda Gamnbro .... (6)

Indeed, the Cuban dramatist Jose
Triana (b. 1932) is perhaps best known for
his work La noche de los aesinos (1962). It
is accepted that this work found high favour
with critics and theakr-goems chiefly because
of the unique and revolutionary way in which
the dranatist exploits many of ft tedmiques
of the Absurd theater, as it is portrayed in
European plays. A succinct description of
what Absurd drama tries to do is given by
Jack A. Vaughn;

Aburdiam in the drama is the
depiction of the randmness and
meaningenes of life, rendered in
nonrealistic and unorthodox forms.
The absurdists, who have been
conceded with the iraonality of
human experience, often utilize
chaotic structure, incongruous events,
seiocomic and ironic effects, and
irrational language. (196)

The preset study focus attention
on the earliest major woik of Jos6 Triana,
Medea en el eMeo,. and attempts to identify,
analyze, and evaluate the features of the
Absurd theatre that it contains. Particular
attention is paid to the modes of
communication that Joe6 Trianm employs in
this play, and to his concept of language and
its role in communication. The function of
language in communication has always been
of major importance, for exampk, in
existentialist thinking, really as writers in
this tradition attempt to depict he absurdity of
existmce in a world that is basically
meaningless and crel. In the literate of the

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

Absurd, the is usually a tendency to destroy
the logical and the syntactical coherence of
language itself (Woodyard, 183-92; Brustem).
It will be shown too, that in the play under
consideration, there are very significant
overtones of existentialism. But first, let us
examine who the man characters are and what
the play is about
In this thee-act play, Mara, a Cuban
mIlat is the wife of Julian, a blonde white-
skinned Cuban. Together with their two
children they live in a sol, an mban tenement
house. Julian has been away from home for
some days, and during this time, Enmdina, an
old black servant, and la seiorita Amparo, a
very thin mestio woman, tell Maria that
Julian, presumably out of self-interest, is
about to leave her to get married. His wife-to-
be is Esperanza, the daughter of Perico Piedra
Fna, a fifty-year-old white boss of the mlar.
Penco wants someone to carry on the
business after he has died. When Maria
verifies the news that the two women have
brought her she takes revenge by poisoning
Peinco Piedra Fina and Esperanza the night of
the wedding. She then slays her own
Act I is set between mid-day and early
afternoon. In this Act, Amparo and Erundina,
through innuendo and in circumloctory
fashion, inform Maria of Julian's plans. They
learn about the plan through the gossip that is
going around the 1ola. Later, a newspaper
boy shouts the latest news concerning two
more marriages that end, one in tragedy and
the other in bloodshed. Mada is now
convinced that she should take the statements
of the two seriously. She calls for her mirror.
At this moment, as if in a daze, she speaks of
JuliAn who appears to be in the crowd. The
figure of JuliAn then appears behind Maria.
As she tries to embrace him he rejects her,
while telling her that today they will go to

* Medea is a tragedy written by Euipdes (480-
406 b.c.). The protagonist was a powerful
enchantress who aided Jason in obtaining the
Golden Fleece. When Jason abandoned her,
she killed their two duldren and fled to
Athens. In the present play by Joe6 Triana,
Medea is replaced by Maria, and Jason by

paradise. Act I ends with Maria motionless,
as if paralyzed, while Julihn disappears
In Act II, which takes place the same
night, Erunmdina goes to Maria's room, but the
latter is not thmere. Ermdina calls out to
Amparo and brings her up to date with the
latest gossip in crculation-what Penco's wife
is wearing to the wedding, and also the fact
that Perico came to see Maria to discuss the
matter. Ernmdina points out that Julian was
with them and they all went to the sea-wall to
talk over things. Prico appears for the first
time in the next scene (Scene ii). He is happy,
but is surprised at everyone else's sad looks
and mood. He tells them they should be
celebrating, because his daughter had got
married. Drinks are served. After drinking,
PeNco and his wife get sick and die. At the
end of the Act, Maria observes that she has
won the match, so far.
Act I takes place at dawn the next
day. It begins with Maria's long lament about
her feelings toward Julian, and her confused
state of mind. She feels deeply tormented,
and she desperately searches for the meaning
of her existence. As she speaks to herself,
she looks into her minor and sees the image
of Medea-that it is Medea is implied rather
than stated. She realizes that her destiny is not
Julian, but rather Medea. In the following
scene, Enmdina and Amparo discuss how
Maria's children were crying desperately for
their mother. At this point tmere are very
frequent references to blood and to tragedy.
Other women in the sIa think they should
find Maria and try to advise and calm her, lest
she does anything drastic, since they know of
cases where women have destroyed their
children under similar circumstances.
However, JuliAn finds Maria and tells her that
he knows it is she who poisoned the wine.
He demands his children, telling her that she
will have to give them over to him one way or
the other. She refuses to tell him where they
are, but when he goes into her room, he sees
them slaughtered. Maria tries to escape. The
chorus shouts "aseaina, asesina" (murderess,
murderess) and they all try to subdue her amid
the sounds of drums and music. Even though
Maria is outnumbered she conquers them all
and, dancing hysterically, lets out a savage
cry: "Soy Dios" (I am God).

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

This twentieth-century play is very
reminiscent of classical tragedy, not only
because of the very close similaity of its plot
to that of the original by Euripides and later by
Roman Seneca, but also through its use of a
Chorus whose chant is often interpolated with
the dialogue; also, its use of songs, the air of
myth, the supernatural element, the very
serious and stressful situation that is being
treated, and the fact that it involves a family
tragedy. It is also noted that the action occurs
in one place, there is one central argument,
and the period of time extends from noon on
one day until the following morning. In other
words, it adheres to what are often referred to
as the classical unities of Place. Action, and
Time. However, it should be pointed out that
the name Medea does not appear at all in the
play. As the title suggests, Maria is a
reflection or an imitation of the classical
Medea. This fact is important for
understanding the concept of existentialist
thinking that the play involves. Maria's
"becoming" is not going to end at the point of
her own physical death, but rather, she "lives
on" to become like the mythical Medea who in
a sense is still alive in Maria. Marfa's destiny
then is to be Medea.
In keeping with the notion of the
search or the quest for a meaning to existence,
the play may be seen as having the following
structure: Maria the protagonist has the goal
of preserving her family. But there is an
obstacle in the form of Perico Piedra Fina and
his daughter. Maria get the assistance or the
help of witchcraft, in the form of the Devil,
probably symbolized by the mirror, and
inspired, she overcomes the obstacle (by
poisoning the opponent). However, this leads
to a further complication-the wrath of her
husband. Her way of conquering this final
obstacle leads to a greater tragedy but,
paradoxically, it is liberation for her as she
finds her destiny.
In this play Jos6 Triana makes much
use of sounds, tone. pitch and volume of
voice, light, music, dance and religious
symbolism. With respect to sound, for
example, we note that just after Maria is
convinced about Julian deceit and just before
she consults her mirror at the end of Act I, the
Bongosero comes on stage, beating the drum

gently to introduce the audience to a tension-
filled moment

Aparece por lateral izquierdo el
bongosero. Trae un pano rojo
amarrado al cuello. El negro da
saves golpecitos en el tambor.

Bongo: (Ri6ndose.) Un escarmiento
.... Para hombres de tal calafia cada
minute es el dltimo minute. (28)

Again, in a moving scene in which Maria has
to confront the problem she faces and reflect
on what she must do to solve it, the situation
is made even more dramatic through the way
the lighting of the stage is used. "La lz del
scenario va disminnvendo. quedando en su
totalidad a oscuras .... S61lo una luz toca a
Maa" (25). And when the next scene begins:
"En ese instant la luz vuelve a su tono
nominal" (26).
Religious symbolism is reflected in
the ritual, in the frequent kneeling of the
characters, and in the allusion, in various
ways, to the concept of three. This point will
be developed further on.
Reference was made easier to the
element of existentialism in the play. The
existentialist note is struck at the very outset
through an observation from the protagonist
Maria regarding her destiny: 'Tngo que
actuar con cauela .... Julin. ulikn. uli.
Mi destino est" (13). The following
references show how this "becoming," this
movement toward destiny on the part of Maria
is developed&

Analizard mi sitnaci6n. (20)

LD6nde est mi camino? (25)

S61o en ti descubro lo que soy, lo que
era. (47)

Tengo necesidad de ser, de ser
eternamente. (48)

Tengo necesidad de ser .... He
legado al final del final mis alli del
final. (50)

Soy Dios. (54)

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

Such pronouncments am very typical in
existentialist thinking where the individual
comes to realize the tragedy of existence,
usually when faced with a crisis situation in
which, after analysis, he has to ma certain
choices and accept the consequences. At
times, this leads to a feeling of freedom or
As was stated in the introduction an
importat aspect of this paper has to do with
the question of language and communication.
This is one of the main concern of
existentialist thinking as well as of the Absurd
theatre, as is to be noted in the definition given
earlier. Many contemporay writer in their
attempt to portray the anguish and aloneness
of man and his alienation even from himself,
raise serious questions regarding the
usefulness and efficiency of language for true
communication of people with one another.
The lack of faith in language as a means of
effective communication is portrayed by a
constant violation of what traditionally are
considered the rules and assumptions of
verbal communication. Two of these
conventions are (1) that communication is the
end of language and (2) that verbal
communication requires at last a speaker, a
message, and a receiver of the message.
These conventions are often violated in
Absurd drama. The main techniques used for
doing so include a predominance of nonsense
words, dialogue that leads nowhere or that
goes in circles, incoherent verbal exchanges,
speech that is attributed to objects, planm, or
animals, different languages used by different
speakers in the same dialogue, adults using
child language, misunderstandings read by
apparently normal language, and deiberate
use of ambiguous language. Some of these
techniques have appeared in traditional drama,
but in the plays of the Absurd theatre they lend
to abound.
In Mea on el peio wev note that at
least four of the main character speak to an
absent person, to nobody, or to themselves,
but they do so as if they were in fact speaking
to someone else who is present

Maria (como si hablara con otra
person.) Mara, Lqu6 has hocho?

Enmdina. ... (Como si hablara con
otra persona.) Miv que so lo he
advrtido. (15)

Enmdina: (Hablando con un
personaje invisible.) Disimulare. (17)

Erndina (Como si hablara con otra
persona no visible.) Ay, 6sta qu6 se
trae entire manos. (16)

Sefiorita Amparo: (Como si hablara
con otra persona.) IA qu6 viene todo
este discursito? (18)

Perico: ... (En otro tono. Como si
hablara con Maria.) Eacucha, Maria.
Vete. Prepara etanoche tus coas y
manhan t vas .. (44)

Of course, this tedmique also has the function
of creating an atmosphere of witchcraft and
the supernatural, clements which ar very
important in the play under consideration.
The tone is generally ritualistic.
On the question of barriers to
communication in apparently normal
conversation, there is the following dialogue
between Maria and la sefionta Amparo.

Mara: Qu6 tine que ver la mujr
de Perico Piedra Fina en todo esto?

Srta.: Elaes la madre.

MarIa Lnmadre de quen?

Srta.: De su hij.

Maria. ZA hIja d qu6 mnadre?

Srta.: La hija de su madre.

Mafia: (Delirando.) Lamadre, la
hija, la madre de su hija; la hija, la
madre, la hija de so madre. Qo6
cachumbamb6. Ni el m6dico chino le
pone fin a este lo. (22)

This speaking without communicating
continues until Maria finally becomes aware
that it is all about a marriage and that fhe

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

husband-to-be is Julitn, her lover. The
primary purpose of Jos9 Triana may have
been to create an atmosphere of suspense and
uncertainty, but the dialogue does for some
time also acate confusion and lack of
Another related tedmchnique as far as the
use of language is conceded is that of causing
the characters to make pronounoemeas that
are ambiguous in meaning. (The technique is
very common in such Spanish Golden Age
drama's as Lope de Vega's El cabaliro de
Qhda.) This technique usually carries with
it overtones of tragedy. For example, Perico
and Julian are celebrating after the wedding.
They are serving the gift of wine from Maria,
which he latter has poisoned, though they do
not know it:

Perico: ... (Sonriente y sarcstico.)
Regalame una botella de vino. Linda
botellita. Qu6 marcaes? Noveoel
sello... Ay, los espejuelos, Ld6nde
los dej6?. . Si, Julian, Maria t
quiere demasiado... y, por tanto, en
cualquier instant hbira saltado
como una leona.

Julian: No exagere tanto. Maia
tendrt que conformarse. Los anicos
que verdadeamente me inleresan son
mis hijos.

Julian: Yo se lo que me traigo entire

Perico: ... Deja sos pensamnntos.
Maria quedara sola. Yo buscear
razoncepara quitamcos. Pnrico
Piedra Fina es a bicho para dar
golpes macstros. (43)

The allusions to the children, to Maria's
remaining alone, to the brand of wine, and to
JuliAn's knowing what he has in his hands,
are all very timely and ironical and point to the
imminent tragedy. In addition, the word
spejemlos does suggest the gWgjg that is so
important in the play. Other examples of
ambiguity or deble cnendido aem:

JuliAmn . (Cantando.) La vida es
corta y el porvenir es menia. (41)

Perico: LMe ha cogido alguici en mna
pifia? jNo be hablado senpe con la
vcrdad an la mano? (40)

Repetition is usually expected in
normal communication. The use of repetition
is very important here also. But often, in
Mdeaen espejo. what seems to be simply a
repetition of words of another speaker turns
out to be a technique for creating rhythm and
for building tasion. An individual does not
normally repeat the words or statements that
others make. Such behavior could seem
rather infantile or intellectually immature.
However, his technique abounds in the play
and it creates very effectively an atmosphere
of ritual, this too, being a typical characteristic
of Absurd drama:

Mujer y Muchachax Todos ke

Barbero y Bongosero: Todos le
conocemos. (40)

Mujer. Lo hemos visto.

Barbero: Lo hemos visto.

Bongosero: Lo hemos visto.

Muchacdha Lo hemos visto. (40)

Mujer Una pesadilla.

Barbero: Una pesadilla.

Bongosero: Una pesadilla.

Mudadcha: Un pesadilla. (41)

Murje Que me traigan n tago.

Barbero: Que me trga n trago.

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

Bongosro: Que me traigan un trago.

Mudhacha Que me traigan un trago.

As if to drive home the fact that
language at times tends to lead nowhere, or
that language may be illogical and even
tedious, Jos6 Triana attributes the following
words to Amparo:

... En la calle, en la plaza, en el
parque, en la bodega, en el cine, en el
caf6, en la guagua. .. la mujer de
Pedro, la de Pablo, la de Chucho...
me han dicho, me dijeron, estdn
diciendo, seguirin diaendo, que acrs,
que eras, que peros, que siempre, que
ahora, que nmmnca... que estaris, en
la esquina de este solar sin nombre
esperando el llamado de la sangre.

In this extract not only is the atmosphere of
gossip cleady implied, but also, tdere is an
allusion to the concept of the individual being
a synthesis of his past, his present, and his
A variant of the technique of
repetition is used when the play approaches its
climax. The spectators cannot help feeling the
tension or the atmosphere of doom that is
being conjured up, particularly with the
constant repetition of sanag:

Coro: (Tono solemn, casi
Sangr6 sangst sangpt sangp
no te hundas en sangre
Sangr, sangr sangmt sangrt
no te hundas en sangre
Sangit sang sangim sang[
ay sangre ay perdid6n. (53)

If effective communication through the
conventional use of language sometimes fails,
the juxtaposition of hysterical cries, frantic
singing, and energetic dancing certainly
communicates adequately, especially when it
is sensed that death is in the air. Thisis
precisely the tedmique that Jos6 Triana
employs at one of the dimactic moments of

the play, that is, when Perico discovers that he
has been poisoned. It is the moment of th
groteque. Communication here is made more
successful through the combination or the
accumulation of the various means of
communication that are at the disposal of the
creative dramatist speech, song, dance,
shrieks, and drums, all juxtaposed.
Throughout dhe play the dramatist has been
employmg these elements, separately and at
different points, so that now, when they are
all combined, they do communicate to the
audience he atmosphere of tension and cisis,
much more so than mere words would have
done. It is the moment of sacrifice. The ritual
is being pefomed.
Joe6 Trianm has been leading up to
this idea of die ritual through religious
overtones on another level as well: the
indirect, subconscious level. Mention was
made easier of the concept of three that
appears frequently. Traditionally, the number
three suggests, in certain contexts, the idea of
the Trinity. At de end of the play, Maria says
"Soy Dios." Let us examine how the
spectatos are subconsciously conditioned for
this (key words have been undedined)

Mada: ulinme amna. ulin es mi
marido. uli es el padre de mis
hijos. Juli. J uliak. IJu (13)

Erundina.: PBm0. AIMa.
hasta legar al fal del ams alla
del fial (15)

. . . . .

Maria: ... Oh, klp. lqra ra

Maia:... .adel vacdo, hach mi
padre muerto, aim mi hermano
ahorcado. (21)

Mada: Cn qe el tempo

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

Erundina Cone que el tiempo no es
el aie.

Mada: Com que el tiempo no es la
eernidad. (24)

Perico: Has evenado el vino.
Has envemnnado la noche. Has
cmvegado el tempo. (45)

Maria: . Esta fiera... que s
o cua, iSO& y Ina y ma y
ma Ca una rbita implacable. (48)

These tripartite divisions do not fail to
conmmuncate the ritualistic atmosphere,
especially when it is also noted that at different
moments the characters fall on their knees.

Questions may be asked regarding the
social purpose or relevance of the play.
Because the race, social dass, and occupation
of different characters have been given,
on cld speo may be comidered as symbolizing
certain social problems that existed in Cuba
just before the time of the volution. There is
the dear implication that a marriage of
convenience was one route towards social
mobility and economic well-being. There
does not seem to be as much stress on this
aspect as on the question of frustrated love
On a more universal level, the play
can be interpreted and analyzed within the
context of the existential problems that face
man today in his efforts at self-realization.
Family relationships, love, passion, marriage,
and bloodshed are much emphasized. Self-
realization or self-actualization could depend
very much on the way we are able to relate
with others. Here, we see frustrated
relationships. Although the thme or message
of a work of art must always receive special
attention, the fact that the mearm and the
techniques through which the theme is
communicated can decmnir to a very large
extent just how effective the writer has been m

achieving his intention cannot be overlooked.
In this regard, Jo@6 Triana has been very
successful. The plot may not have been
original but there is much merit in the way the
dramatic devices and the stage effects were
used to reflect the extent of the emotional
crises experienced by the main characters.
One of the points highlighted in this
paper is the question of how the dramatist
approads fthe problem of language by
showing how very often language leads not to
communication but to frustration and
confusion. Communication takes place more
effectively when extra linguistic modes of
communication are employed as well. On the
levels of dramatic technique and world view,
it has been shown that this play has many
features of the Absurd Theater which in itself
tends to be existentialistic in outlook. The
irrational note that is frequent in plays of this
tradition is communicated not only through the
way language is used, but also through the
behavior of the protagonist Maria, who seems
to be insane or to have lost control of herself
at the end of the play. Although Medean el
upej is the first major play of Jos6 Triana,
many of the dramatic techniques that he was to
use in his more recent and most famous play
La noch de olos am s are already quite
evident in it Jo6 Triam was already an
eminent example of the outstanding
contribution that Cuba is making to the
development of the Latin American Theatre.


Brustein, Robert The Theatre of Revolt
Boston: Little, Brown, 1964.
Dauster, Frank. "Keynote Address."
Proceedings of the Symposium on
Latin American Theatre. LAIR 13, 2
(Summer 1980): 6.
Triana, Jose. Modea el espejo. El pao.
d la fbatrmidad. Havana- Uni6n
Teatro, 1962.
Vaughn, Jack A. Dna A toZ New York:
Frederick Ungar, 1978.
Woodyard, George W. "The Theatre of the
Absurd in Spanish America."
Comparatv Dama 3, no. 3 (Fall
1969): 183.92.

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

Two Can Plah and School' Out.:
Tek Bad tings Mek Laugh*

Hyacnth Simpson

University of the West Indies
Mona, Jamaica

People are seeing theatre now as a
good money earner-which it can be,
but at the same time I would like for
them to delve a little bit into quality
and show the society a little bit more
about itself rather than just making
them laugh, you know, all the timed

Trevor Rhone achieves both the
humour and the revelation. His comedy
makes use of all the different levels of
humour--the farcical, delightful expectation,
the scandalous, funny, ironic and sarcastic,
He fashions a comfortable blend between the
comic and the serious so that we can better
understand the contradictions, pain and
suffering of our lives without breaking under
the pressure of the revelation. With Rhone,
there is "joke and more joke... and so much
more."2 Two Can Play and School's Out are
two plays which demonstrate Rhone's vision
of his people and soaety at different points in
his writing career. Two Can Pay is a tender,
heartwarming, humorous account of a
couple's struggle to overcome age-old
male/female conflicts on leadership, sex and
intimacy. The final note is hopeful and
positive, suggesting regeaneaton and rebirth.
School's Out strikes a telling bow at the heart
of educational corruption, black/white
malefemale violation and exploitation and
language prejudices. It exposes the evil at
each level of interractim. Th final
impression is of unrelieved hopelessness.
Theme is the feeling that things will continue to
fall apart.
Both plays are concerned with very
serious issues. Yet audience laughter in
response to seeing them on stage indicates
their comic element. We might eve say that

* Origmally presented at the 9th Confeence
on West Indian Litature, St. Lucia, May

Two Can m and School's Out are
comedies. It might be difficult to pinpoint
exactly what is going on in these plays that
causes us to laugh even while we are
confronted with serious issues. Rhone
himself can give us help with this. In a 1988
interview with Carolyn Allen he said,

... even with comedy, one has to
find the truth. One needs to believe
that these people are up against a jack-
in-the-box situation. You push them
down, they come back up. But he
can't know he's going to be pushed
down, otherwise it's just not funny.3

There we have it-Rhone's basic storyline has
to do with people in undesirable
circumstances. They are constantly beaten
down in various aspects of their lives, but
they keep reacting-popping up like jads-in-
the-box. The humour does not come from
their situation. After all, there is nothing
funny in pain taken by itself. The comedy
comes from Rhone's understanding of the
Jamaica people's attitude to p -resisting
total dissolution through laught. The
laughter comes as the playwright shows us the
twists and turns in their behaviour as the
individuals struggle to adjust the balance of
their lives. It is no fun if the characters and
the audience can only predict and look
forward to more and more pair. Comedy is
achieved when personal idiosyncrasies, folk
wit, tricks and action bordering on the
ridiculous also share the spotlight. We sit on
the edge of our seats in glorious anticipation.
What is this character going to do next What
is that character going to say next? The
comedy is always opening up a situation so
we can see the contradictions as well as the
fun in human relationships. There is a duality
in Rhone's writing and one half is the fun.
From Rhone's admission, we
understand that his'earlier work was very
satirical."4 School's falls in this period
and category. It is a situation comedy in
which exaggerated action and surroundings
hold sway. The staffroom is a dilapidated,
untidy place where nothing works. Added to
this is the stench from the malfunctioning
toilet dominating the set at centre stage. This
exaggeration in the setting will certainly cause

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

ripples of laughter as the curtains open. No
less would ihe exaggerated entrances of the
characters. Mr Josephs playing his "Monday
Morning Blues" on his guitar is bothered by
the smell from the bathroom. He continues
his playing but tries to dispel the odour by
spraying air freshener towards the bathroom.
Right on his heels comes Mr Hendry with a
cheerful "Solicitations on this lovely Monday
morning, Mr Josephs" (79). No doubt Mr
Josephs does not want "Solictations" and that
odour will take the loveliness out of any
morning. Pat Campbell enters like a bandit,
handkerchief covering his face, "Don't any
teacher move; this is a smell-up!" (81). The
Chaplain offers "I see the smell is no longer
with us .... mind over matter. Not a thing."
A few minutes later Rosco enters with a gas-
maskic "Peace, love and justice. I come
prepared for the smell today" (82). These
fast-paced entrances-ridiculous in the
exaggerated way in which they are done, are
very funny. They all centre on the smell and,
secondarily, on the ramshackle look of the
staffroom. But Rhone makes sure we do not
miss the point even while we are laughing.
Not long after these entrances an argument
develops in which Rosco offers,

The Board, Bishop? That's the
biggest stink of all! Those men don't
care about education, Bishop. They
climbing the political ladder to glory
road-a little pay-off from the party-
their own little power. That stink
affects the pocket and the intellect I
will sign a deputation to the Prime
Minister to get politics out of
education. I say get rid of the
headmaster-Now, there is an odour.

The education system represented by
this staffroom is a "big stink." It is affected
by political corruption and lies in ruins as this
staoom does. It is no coincidence that the
two dosed doors with signs on them lead to
the bathroom and the headmaster's office.
The top of the education system is
malfunctioning. We are hardly surprised that
the teachers have little motivation and are slack
concerning fhir duties. Whereas we laughed
uproariously before, our chuckling now has a

sober edge because we realise there is a
serious point to tfe joke after all.
But something else smells in this
staffroom-radal prejudice and discrmination.
Pat Campbell, white expatriate teacher, gets
better wages than the other teachers. Hence
his reluctance to join any action to press for
more pay. His gidfriend, black, Jamaican and
very attractive Mica McAdam, attributes his
higher salary to his "superiority." "Naturally.
Mr Callendar," she says. "Pat is a superior
teacher, a superior man" (83). Rosco
Callendar's response brings this canker to the

Ah, white is beautiful. Same thing A
tell you Mr Hendry. White is
beautiful .... That is the stink we
shall protest about, Mr Campbell,
nothing personal. (83)

From Rosco's comments we lean that Mica
finds white more attractive: "Sorry about the
first impression, but I don't dig no black
woman who only dig white man LyM
dly]. It's a personal insult to me, my race,
my manhood" (93). It is the old story of the
black race's "emasculation" Racial pride is
nonexistent because we blacks think
ourselves inferior. Pat and Mica's
relationship is common knowledge. The
Chaplain makes nasty insinuations about their
week end activities with his characteristic
edgy, flat humour. The staff watches (almost
with glee) Mica's attraction for Russ Dacres
and Pat's jealousy. This love triangle is
messy and has nasty consequences. Pat's
jealousy causes him to join the cruel and
insenmsible movement to oust Russ from the
school. The relationship becomes a part of the
cruelty and vindictiveness which are features
of he play.
Pat and Mica's relationship reveals
some sour truths about mak/female
interaction. Rhone points out a lack of
communication between the sexes which he
later develops in Two Can Play. Pat and Mica
do not discuss their problems. They react to
each other. Pat resorts to sarcasm on more
than one occasion. He can be brutal too-
deliberately crumpling the Form 3A's
magazine she gives him in an effort to insult
her enthusiasm over Rum's projects. The

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

woman is, as always, at the receiving end.
Mica is pressured from the position of Russ's
enthusiastic helpmate to that of a hystercal,
tearful woman. She succumbs to the
distasteful lies about Russ's intimacy with
male and female students. In the showdown
between Russ and the other staff members,
she hardly participates. Stage directions (136)
tell us "Others react Mica rests her head on
her desk." The last we see of her, she is
obeying Pat's "Come Mica," sobbing and
trailing behind him like a defeated animal.
Humour surrounding these issues is
particularly scandalous-belittling a
relationship built on a questionable
foundation. Rosco and tdie Chaplain make
passes at Mica in full view of Pat. They make
for coarse humour and are somewhat
offensive, giving, I think, an exact summunation
of this relationship.
There is still another "odour"
circulating in this staffroom. Rhone uses
comedy to challenge the notion that Standard
English is good and the Jamaican Creole is
bad. Satirical humour is his main weapon
here and Rosco is his mouthpice. Roeco's
jocularity aims at worsting his opponents.
His main targets are Mica and the sardonic,
aging conservative Mr. Josephs. Rosco's use
of the dialect is done for "effect," shaming the
others as either ridiculous or stuffy. The other
characters as well as the audience and society
are challenged. Of Mica he says, "She don't
like me, because I speak so badly. Did you
ever hear such assninity?" (93) He makes
what is still a revolutionary statement today
judging by the heated debates we have been
having in our Jamaican papers on the status of

I can use the queen's English if I so
desire, but to me it is no more than an
acquisition by the black bourgeois to
create baiers and underline the status
quo. (93)

Hopal Hendry, given to malapropism and
fitting in with neither standard nor dialect,
becomes Rosco's puppetclown. At one point
Rosco has Hendry jigging to a reggae beat he
drums out on the table. He fetches and carries
and is the target of jokes from everyone. Itis
important that Rosco semns to control Hendry

with his funny antics. It implies that Rosco's
position on the language is supeor to that of
Hendry. Hendry is an example of what most
of us Jamaicans have become. Our "selves"
are displaced with our language. We are as
pathetically comic as he is when we try to
aspire to our "British selves" at the expense of
our "Jamaican selves." The end of the play
where Hendry blows cigarette smoke in
Rosco's face, turning the tables of a similar
action on Rosco's pat earlier (87), does not
contradict this reading. It is part of Rhone's
satire. The bad concepts (in this case the
language) overcome the good. Everything is
rotting at the core.
It must be noted that Rosco's tone
and actions are comic even when he is
delivering the harshest criticisms. He plays
the fool most of the time. Rhone has invested
him with many of th characteristics we
associate with that wellloved trickster hero
Anancy. He gets the better of all the
characters, teasing, jostling, mimicing and
hiding intelligence and craftiness behind the
mask of simplicity. We laugh at his capers
even if we do not condone them, just as we do
with Anancy. Shakespeare puts it very well:
"He uses his folly like a stalking-horse, and
under the presentation of that he shoots his
wiL"6 Rosco hides behind his appearance of
foolishness so that he can attack others more
effectively with his real cleverness. Mr.
Josephs's prejudices come in for much
"ribbing" from Roeco. Joe scoffs at Reggae
but embraces Bach. He thinks the pantomime
is "a cheap vaudeville show designed to
titillate the bulgar appetites of the masses"
(116). Rosco disregards him: "Waste my
time talking to you, all the same" (86). His
dullness and stuffries contrast with the life of
colour of Rosco and even the others. Within
the context of comedy, he seems lackluster
and unappealing. We disregard his character
as well as his sentiments.
Rnss Dacres is a good man in many
ways but he also has his faults. He is brittle
and unsmiling, pushing his reforms with little
or no delicacy. He is unbedingin the tasks
and in his criticisms of the other teachers. He
failed to realis that it is the joking that has
kept e teachers from tearing each other apart.
The fun has helped them to survive while
giving them opportunities to speak their minds

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

without coming to blows. Everything falls
apart as Russ begins to apply the truth with
the sensitivity of a stinging wasp. Instead of
bringing the teachers to face the truth, he
pushes them farther from it. They preferred
(with the exception of Rosco who saw dearly
from the beginning) to band together, telling
themselves that they were serving the interest
of the school by ousting Russ. Russ's truths
admmistered in raw form were too much to
take. Rhone wasn't about to take the chance
that Russ took. He knows the value of
humour. The sweet coating on the bitter pill
helps the stomach to digest easier. Rhone
understands perfectly what Northrop Frye
says about comedy:

Comedy removes [the viewer] to a
distance from which he can look at
the absurdities of characters who
often turn out to be very much like
himself. The experience may shake
him but it does not defeat him.7

Two Can Play

Even with only two actors on stage,
Two Can Play does not have a dull moment.
The action is fast and comic, touching but
funny. It explores the age-old problems of
mae/female intcraction. "The play is about
men and women, husbands and wives and the
socialization of the sexes."8 Jmn is the
stereotypical male chauvinist. Gloria has
played the "perfectly normal good woman"
(55), as Jim sees it, for twenty years. She has
waited on him hand and foot, postponed her
education to look after the family fulltime and
propped up Jim's ego. It is an unfulfilling
mamrage when we look at it dosely, more so
for the woman than for the man. But at many
points we find humour, humour that works.
How does Rhone manage to make a thought-
provoking social documentary into a play
which qualifies as comedy? The answer lies
in the engaging domestic drama built on an
appreciation for the inbuilt humour and
rhythm of Jamaica life and language. We find
humour in the man/woman games the couple
plays in an attempt to score points off each
other. Their mannerism are truly Jamaican.
They are able to make jokes in the midst of a

isis and bounce back again and again. Their
reslence and sharp wit delight us, providing
scenes of lively, sustained action.
One of Rhone's main techdmiques for
comedy here is role reversal. We are used to
seeing the big, strong, brave man protecting
the fearful woman. Rhone switches this
around to provide moments of good fun. In
the opening scene, Gloria gives Jim his fifth
valium tablet to "calm his nerves." Tun cannot
sleep with gunshots exploding in the distance
even with the pillow over his head. As the
gunshots tear through the silence of the night,
Gloria reaches underneath the bed for a bottle
of water and a cutlass for defence. Jim
reacdes for a slipper and heads for the clothes
closet In an exasperatingly funny manner,
Jim moves between playing the man who
knows it all and the coward who hides behind
Gloria's initiative each time a problem
develops. He pleads grogginess when he
realizs h has to go out in the gunshots to get
medicine if his father (Pops) is to survive the
night He goes only because Gloria is
disabled by the broken bottle he left on the
floor. Gloria is the one who finds a way of
concealing money in a tube of toothpaste. She
endures all the pain and humiliation of the trip
to the United States. Jim keeps quiet
whenever anything goes wrong but as soon as
something goes right, he is "the general," the
brain behind it all along.
It is funny seeing Jim bounce back
from silence and cowardice, knocking his
chest and prancing like he is boss as soon as
the isis has passed. But it also indicates
something below the surface, something more
serious than Jim playing King Kong. It has to
do with exploitation. We understand that for
years Glona has been the strength and the
brains behinds this marriage. She found a
way of helping the children to take mor than
the $50 U.S. dollars allowed to smooth their
passage to a strange land. She found a way of
communicating with them (in code worked out
with Pops) to ensure that family members do
not lose touch. Jim knew nothing of this. He
felt he had done his fathrly duty and made his
sacrifice in sending the children away to
"better themselves." But Gloria has to stand
back and watch him pretend to take charge,
exploiting her strength and initiative and
taking the glory as the man who keeps

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

everything together. It is humiliating and
unfair for the woman to play shadow to the
man she has to lead each step of the way.
Unfairness is one of the problems in
this marriage. Tun is the main offender, but
he has method. Even if we cannot condone
his actions we have to admit that the ways in
which he gets Gloria to do his bidding are
funny at times. After Pope's funeral, Jim is
taking charge, or so he says. IHe has decided
to leave the country: "The fuss chance A get
to get out, I gone!" (17) She asks him if he is
hungry. He denies it, probably because he
feels he might have to prepare his own food
because Gloria is still in pain from falling on
the kitchen floor-Jim's carelessness was the
cause. Gloria advises him to eat before
making plans to migrate. He indicates that he
is full up to the neck. But as soon as Gloria
gets up with "Let me get something for miself
then...," Jim responds with "Alright...
bring me a litfie something." At another time
he tries sexual blackmail: "Bread outside-
Jusr ruste up something nice to put in
between it .... Come nuh, sweetness.."
(51). This is the same night Gloria returns
from an exhausting and emotionally during
taip to the Uniltd States. Jim's attitude
snacks of selfishness. Gloria finds the
courage to tell unim about his selfishness after
her trip to Miami. She has learned that a
woman's sacrifice need not be taken for
granted. She can be treated as an equal, with
understanding and respect by a man.
This does not mean that Gloria did
not notice or try to deal with her husband's
selfishness before me trip. She has been
trying to beat him at his own game by holding
him to ransom whenever she could. She can
also be in control some of the times. Atone
point, frightened by the belief that the police
had followed him home to seize the U.S.
dollars he bought in the black market, unm tells
Gloria to flush the money down the toilet. It
was their life-savings but at least the police
would find no evidence. Quick thinking
Gloria does not obey him. She wraps the
money in a plastic bag and hides it in the
toilet. The raid"turns out to be a false alarm
and Jim starts to cy like a baby, thinking
Gloria had flushed the money. Gloria jokes
about the value of he property going up:
"Anytime yuh sit on the seat now, yuh will be

sitting on a gold mine" (37). She plays it for
all it is worth before telling Jim she did not
flush it and producing the money as proof.
There are other examples of this game
We ar delighted when Gloria gives
"tit for tat." The enjoyment works in the same
way as a good, hard-hitting boxing match
delights boxing fans. Rhone heightens the
pleasure by throwing in funny lines like the
one given to Gloria above. But we camot
deny that the couple is playing a baiting game.
The aim of baiting is to hook the victim. The
reward for the victor is power.
I believe Rhone intends for us to see
it this way even while we are laughing at the
jokes. Jim and Gloria are locked in a power
struggle. Jim is unwill9g to concede
anything because be is a man." Gloriaisan
unwilling victim who fights below the surface
to maintain her dignity. She is dawing at her
prison walls. Their relationship is an example
of the battle which continues to be fought
between men and women of all races and
cultures. The problem will not be solved
until, in Gloria's words, "we start to look into
weself an learn to help each other" (66).
Before this could happen for Jim and Gloria,
they had to deal with double standards and
dishonesty. Probably the most famous scene
in this play is where Jim confesses that he too
does "dat t'ing, dat make hair grow in yuh
hand middle.. ." (72). Jim shows anger at
Gloria's confession, saying "Woman don't do
dem things ..." (59). He takes it as a
personal insult "What yuh saying to me?
Say dat A don't satisfy yuh?" (61) According
to him she has defiled herself but he does not
see his actions in the same light. How can he
get angry with her for doing what he
prmaices? He thinks because he is a man he is
allowed his little detours from time to time.
Gloria has been dishonest. For years she
faked sexual satisfaction because she didn't
feel she could talk to her husband. They did
not communicate. Gloria tells him:

Mi one regret, 'bout dem days, is we
never sit down an chat .... we never
discuss what we wanted out of the
marriage. We never really get to
know each other, Jim... (58)

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

They salvage their love and their
marriage by removing masks. Jim is able to
advise his newly marmed son in terms we can
approve of:

Paul, take care o'yuhself, and don't
take her for granted. Work together
for the good of the marriage ....
Shar wid her, listen to what she have
to say. Take it seriously, even if she
chatting nonsense... an Paul, make
certain the two o' yuh go over the hill
together... Is okay. A will explain
when A see yuh. (73)

The orange tree blossoms after all. There is
hope for us yet. We don't have to look to any
"promised land," be it the United Stated or
another country. The problem is right an the
inside and the answer lies on the inside too.
Writing for a Jamaican audience,
Rhone writes comedy because he realizes this
is how his target audience likes to see things.
His well developed sense of absurd helps
him to be successful in his task. The "break
neck" speed of calamity after calamity which
forms the basis of Two Can Pay makes for
real humour despite the genuine pathos of the
incidents. His choice of the Jamaican Creole
because "it is the language that express true
feelings"9 is another factor in Rhone's
comedy in both plays. He is an entertainer as
well as a critic. The Jamaican theatre, in fact,
Caribbean theatre has benfitted from his gift


1. Trevor Rhone interviewed by Mervyn
Morris, Jamaica Joumal (February 1983): 5.

2. Ibid: 8.

3. Trevor Rhone interviewed by Carolyn
Allen, Trevor Rhone's Comic Vision
(unpublished Thesis, U of West Indies,
Mona, Jamaica, 1988).
4. Ibid.

5. All page references are to Trevor Rhone,
Two Can Pla and Schools Out (EMssex
Longman, 1986).

6. As You LAe ILt V.iv, 106-07.

7. Northrup Frye, "Comic Fictional Modes,"
The Play and the Reader, edited by Stanley
Johnson, Judah Bunman, and James Hart
(New Jersey, 1966).

8. Rhone interviewed by Carolyn Allen.

9. Ibid.

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

Reviews / Resefias

Jamaica Kincaid.

New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux,

Jamaica Kincaid's Lucy would rather
be a creator of heroines than one herself,
representer rather than reresented. She
dislikes the name Lucy, becausee it seemed
slight, without substance" (like a Victorian
heroine). "In my own mind, I called myself
other names of the authoresses whose books I
loved." Lcy may be seen as a reader's reply-
-daffodils and metropolitan cities are now
represented, not passively read about:

Now that I saw these places, they
looked ordinary, dirty, worn down
by so many people entering and
leaving them in real life, and it
occurred to me that I could not be the
only person in the world for whom
they were a fixture of fantasy.

The daffodils are somewhat prettier ("they
looked like something to eat and something to
wear at the same time"), but the memory of
the poem she "had to learn" as a schoolgid in
a distant colony of the British Empire has
spoilt the flower for her. Ljj is full of such
representations-in the ext, Lucy learns to
take photographs, then begins to write. The
text even records the moment of its own
beginning, making it a metananative of sorts.
The protagonist's impulse to lay bare her
subjectivity finds an effective medium in the
dream-like, confessional, candid journal style
so typical of Kincaid.
This is the first of her published work
to be located outside of Kincaid's birthplace
Antigua, in the metropolitan world that Lucy
had so longed for. The narrative traces
Lucy's career as an au-pair girl living with an
American family in an named American
city, through new friendshipu/antagomisms
and sexual relationships. But the narrative
defeats any expectations of expanded horizons

the reader (and Lucy) may have. The
relocation brings neither detachment nor
objectivity, the new world turns out as narrow
and suffocating as the old, certainly for those
like Mariah (Lucy's employer) who live in it.
For Lucy herself, the same obsessive concern
with early relationships, especially that with
her mother, dominates,
The location of mamrnal in relation to
discursive seems to me one of the chief points
of interest in this book. If the energy that
drives the narrative is Lucy's will to represent,
I read this as a concomitant of that other
energy underwriting the text her
ambivalence, even hatred toward her mother.
On one level, her mother is the very symbol of
narrative force-the text is punctuated by her
unopened letters from Antigua that Lucy is
only too conscious of. Time and again, Lucy
recalls stories told to her by her mother.
Sometimes these are too horrible for her.
Take, for example the first letter she receives:

Not too long before, out of
politeness, I had written my mother a
very nice letter I thought, telling her
about the first ride I had taken in an
underground train. She wrote back to
me and after Iread her letter, I was
afraid to even put my face outside the
door. The letter was filled with detail
after detail of horrible and vicious
things she had read or heard about
that had taken place on those very
same underground trains on which I

In an adnowledgement both of her
mother's narrative eloquence and her own
rebellion, Lucy neither reads her mother's
subsequent letters, nor does she write to her.
The text then arises out of this communicative
"lack," the postal silence she chooses (an eerie
consequence of this is her unawareness of her
own father's death).
For the will to represent, to
fictionalized, that elsewhere (New Yor Times
MaaznE. 7 October 1990) Kincaid has called
lying, is incompatible with the subservient
security she remembers in her early bond with
her mother. Mothedesnmes is a reaming
element, an inecacpable nanative fact in those
nineteenth-century women's novels that, Lucy

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

claims, so influenced her in her childhood and
prompted her first rebellion.
The overwhelming paradox of the
book. however, is that in attempting to forget
the mother, it reinstates her sexually. Lucy's
employer Mariah is repmsnted, indeed
reinvented or recast perhaps, in mammal
terms. The recasting is all the more poignant
because Mariah-suburban, wealthy,
pnvileged--is the very antithesis of Lucy's
mother. But, significantly for Lucy, she is a
tolerant mother, encouraging inventiveness in
her own little daughters. Two such instances
in the book are contrasted to Lucy's memory
of her own stifled childhood. While Mariah is
represented as encouraging Lucy's
independence at every tum-sexually,
vocationally, creatively-she is most valuable
as mother-substitute because she grants Lucy
the upper hand. As subject in Lucy's
narrative, she is more completely under
Lucy's control than her mother could ever be.

The smell of Mariah was pleasant.
Just that-pleasant And I thought,
but that's the trouble with Mariah-
she smells pleasant. By then I
already knew that I wanted to have a
powerful odour and would not care if
it gave offense.

Writing for Lucy mediates her
"inside" and "outside," which in the past she
could never reconcile. The text becomes a
discourse of truth, placing itself in contrast to
the lies she writes in her first and only letter
home. It mediates the inside anger at
subservience (to mother, to authority, to
colonizer) with the outside (mock) humility
instilled in her by a Puritanical school system.
The humility-anger binazism provides the
rhetorical organizing principle of the woLk.
Expectations and experience, past and present,
wonderful elitfe (Lewis and Mariah) and
the drudgery of her own form the poles within
which her story is recorded. The writing
within these contrasts works to deconstruct
them eventually, for there is always something
that escapes the nat polarity. Her own
delight in sexuality makes "reality" somewhat
more exciting than her expectations; he past is
never in contrast to the present but always
intrudes on it; and Mariah's domestic

happinms comes apart at the husband's
adultry, while she herself manages to achieve
some measure of equanimity in de closing
pages of the book, on the evening when she
begins to write:

Peggy [Lucy's friend] was on an
outing by herself. Paul [Lucy's
lover] was on an outing by himself. I
had noticed this happen more and
more; the two of them were busy at
something and I suspect it was with
each other. I only hoped they would
not get angry and disrupt my life
when they realized I did not care.

Nalini Natarajan

University of Puerto Rico
Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico

Gloria Escoffery.
Loggerhead. Caribbean Poetry Series
No. 1.
Kingston: Sandberry Press, 1988.

Edward Baugh.
A Tale from the Rainforest.
Caribbean Poetry Series No. 2.
Kingston: Sandberry Press, 1988.

Pamela Mordecal.
.Journy Poem. Caribbean Poetry
Series No. 3.
Kingston: Sandberry Press, 1989.

Dennis Scott.
Strategies. Caribbean Poetry Series
No. 4.
Kingston: Sandberry Press, 1989.

In her introduction to From Our Yard-
Jamaica Poetay Since Indenden (1987),
Pamela Mordecai writes that the poetry of
Jamaica has been

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

the largely unsentimental catalogue of
the ordinary life of her people: the
pleasure and pain of mothering,
fathering, childbearing and child-
rearing; the horror of personal and
social, oppression and violence; the
intimacy of man-woman
relationships; the struggle to make
life; the fact of death; the continuing
exhilaration of the island place.

Relatedly, Dennis Scott has written in the
appropriately titled "Companysong":

: this is the confederacy that I wish/
who in some way keep the light
from going out In them
is the small mirackl, the tenderness/
of desire
that has no reason, that stops us/
weightless into the dark, that offers/
a difficult and joyful fire.

It is from these particular standpoints that the
poetry under review can be seen.
Gloria Escoffery's Loggerhead is the
first in the Sandbeny Press's nicely produced
Caribbean Poetry Series. Escoffery, who is a
painter, writes about ripeness and coming of
age. Her poetry stresses memory and her
remembrance is generated, like the Lawrentian
turtle of her title poem, by knowing when to
"pounce," to "swoop," and to "strike." In
"Discovery Bay," Escoffery remembers
herself at sixteen a "ready listener for a lover's
entry," discovers "the emptiness in the
receding moment," and understands her
"landfall" as a poet Escoffery's is "the
watcher's talent" and her poetry-ut pitra
Rpg -reflects on Guyana as a place where
blue" ghosts "through clouds, dropped from
God's/ own fingers," evokes "Beldame
Nature" as a "Fairy Godmother," identifies
with Nelson and Winnie Mandela through a
"grafitti of resistance." Above all, it is the
color, the fauvism of Escoffery's poetry that
dazzles. In it "pigments/ reaert their rights,"
not only in the "yellow and green" of croton
leaves, in the "ochre/to umber in a river of

light," or in the "reds" on heryalette, but also
in the "urdictable product that is "the
secretive bauxite soil of Jamaica.
In "No Man's Land," Gloria
Escoffery asks: "Is there no way but through
this scene?" Edward Bangh's A Tale from h
Ranforet answers her question be re-
mapping the route, by transfiguing scue into
situation. While Escoffery's poetry seems
rooted in the "narrow courtyard" of the
Jamaican expenenoe, Baugh's poetry
transcends the context of the place, giving it a
general habitation and a name. Baugh's
exploration discloses that beyond Mundo
Nuevo's "dead end" there is the "pomibility/ a
turning point, some final testing ground/ at
lonely journey's end." The "metaphor" that
this newly dis-covered New World provokes
disturbs[] a sleeping nerve." "Every line
commits you," he writes in "Truth and
Consequences," and it is this commitment in
"'Go Not To Wittenberg'" that keeps him safe
from the ephemeral, that keeps him both home
and abroad-like Whitman-that allows him his
"barbaric yawp."
Baugh's poetry is one of getting there,
of arriving somehow. Offering us an
experience that becomes ours, he moves
beyond time and before it making, mything,
folk-telling "the grief of de rainforest," "the
unwritten histories/ of flight and ambush and
survival," the"cut and glance" of the great
Frank Worrell at the crease, "the true folk/the
immaculate idea untoudied by irony," the
metastases" that "multiply." Beyond the
"reality" of "rumn and puke'-which is
evcryplac-Baugh's is a poetics of empathy
that extends touchingly to an aunt whose death
is announced to his mother in "childbed," to
an ageing lady, her li levelled by the
exigencies of living, who "outworships her
neighbors and magnifies her Lord," to the
man waiting for a visa to enter the United
so, bons, excuse this nigger sweat.
And I know that you know it
as good as me,
this river running through history,
this historical fact, this sweat
that put the aroma
in your choice Virginia
that setem thd cmae
and make the cotton shine;

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

and sometnies I dream a nightmare/
that the river ising, rang
and swelling the sea and I see
you choking and drowning
in a sea of black man sweat
and I wake up shaking
with shame and remove
for my mother did teach me,
Child, don't study revenge.
("Nigger Sweat")

In Derek Walcott's words, Edward
Baugh's is "a careful passion." It is one that
"can come from anywhere, unobtrusive/
exact." Like Ingrid Bergman's hat brim at the
end of Casablanca. it is "the line that holds
everything/ together, the line that was lying/ in
wait for the poem." In such poetry, Jamaca
and "skywardness" meet, a poetry in which
the hortns conclusus of one becomes the open
garden of all.
The third book in the series is Pamela
Mordecai's Journy Poem. Working within
the "confederacy" proposed by Dennis Scott,
Mordecai's poetry, like Tiesia, sees both
ways: "We propose to speak/ your language,"
she writes in "Protest Poem," "but not
abandon ours: we inst that you/ understand/
that you do not understand us." Thisis the
voice in context, one which has been honed
by what Walott once called "the leprosy of
Empire:" colonial, social psychological,
sexual. Mordecai is "a woman/of a fierce
green place;" as such her poetry remembers,
celebrates, intimates, advancs the importance
of a womanness that is as "mercurial as helL"
In order to be more than a "coolie wife," the
"kingdom" must "grow" in "the dark womb,"
the "small seeds/ of greatness in the scrota of
your pockets" must become woman, must
become mm. Only thn is it possible "to go
up rivers"-not as John Beyman would have
it, alone-but to h "to move farther in/ to
water, rock, sky, innocence." Like Edward
Bangh, Mordocai dis-orders the local
experience. "Outwardlooking," it verses
"itself" in "that plantation twin-/ ingness of
view." In "Easy Life," her world is
Macondo.d into the our ad yrs

Who can have

a clear ear for your plight? The red/
crazy with sun, howling
their misconstructions at the sky?
Children dragging their bellies heavy
with their fathers' seed to monstruous
beginnings? Who born twist? Who
born dead? Who chop before they/

I not even dealing with hungry:
hungry is them same
greedy hands, scratching up the dirt;
not dealing with sick neither
sick is the wriggling things that
tum up when dirt scratch.

This is good poetry, reminiscent of Soyinka's:
jagged, honest, cautionary. A poetry to read
when you want to know the truth.
Dennis Scott's Stragi completes
the Sandberry Press series to date. With
poems punctuated by songs-"Jukesong,"
Ratsong," "Scabsong," Journeysong, etc.--
Scott's book reminds me of the rhythms of
Jean Toomer's Cae, of the syncopating
paints of Edmund Burra, of a Charlie Parker
jam. The poet teaches at Yale University, and
this seems to have dis-connected him from his
native Jamaica into an encounter which has
widened the power of his poetry. While
growing up and memories of familiar things
are not as redolent as they are in Gloria
Escoffery's poetry, Scott's new world is more
dangerous, cunning, obscure. In it "children
must eat/if they are not to become killers," in
it "river come far, river deep... river don't
sleep," in it "somethings are not to be
negotiated, like freedom, like love." In
"Centresong 1, 2, 3," the poet emerges only
to "dive again," as if his troe place is the
Baconesque cage in "Zooeong" or simply
"under" where he can "bond" with another "in
the centre." In "Manysong," a misreading
hints at the problems of being home (safety,
Joy, Jamaica?), of being abroad of identity,
of the accommodation needed in the widening
of boundaries:

He never learned her, quite. Year after year
that territory, without seasons, shifted
under hiseye. An hour he could be lost
in the walled anger of her qualed hurt
or turning, see cool water laughing where

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

the day before there wre stones in her/
He charged. She made wilderness again.
Roads disappeared. The map was never/
Wind brought him rain sometimes, tasting/
of sea-
and suddenly she would change the shape/
of shores
faultlessly calm. All, all was each day new:
the shadows of her love, shortened of grew
like trees seen from an unexpected hill,
new country at each jaunty helpless journey.
So he accepted that geography, constantly/
Wondered. Stayed home increasingly to/
his way among the landscapes of her mind.

What impresses one reading
Straegies is that the poetry is capable of
mesmerizing the reader with an illusion of
surface, a brilliant optic that sees under and
beyond as well. That this t is in the
process of becoming is hinted at in

you allow me
to be constant in your house, a man
full of October dreams, of endings I
have not the magnificence to come to.
Knowing less thanI did
that evening we whispered
first against the world
sure of nothing, I confess
myself to our sweet dances, judged
by your pleasure in the danger of my living
healed in my hangdog hurts
by your forgiving.

Dennis Scott charts the dusklands of
contemporary life. His is both the known
territory-marriage, children, place of birth
(and death), the jazz of things-and the
unknown-"the heart's hurl/ the blood's
breaking/ the web-twist of/ this world's wet
drizzle." His is the poet's task of keeping "the
light/ from going out"
It is encouraging to know, reading
these four books from Sandberry Press, that
the Caribbean is alive to the pulse of being,
that dret he nthe ruble is the poetry that
is, the poetry to be, that the snickers of history

are in rat's alley. There is, as Richard Ellman
once said in relation to Auden, "a conspiracy
of good others" at hand.

Michal Sharp

University of Puerto Rico
Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico

Her True-True Name: An Anthology
of Women's Writing from the
Edited by Pamela Mordecai and Betty
London/Kingston: Heinemann, 1989.

Her True-True Name is Pamela
Mordecai and Betty Wilson's "contribution to
the long-overdue task of making the writing of
Caribbean women easily available to a wider
audience." Although limiting their selections
to prose works, the editors succeed in making
their anthology as representative as possible in
another very significant way. they have
included stories and fragments of novels by
authors from the English-speaking Caribbean
as well as translations of works from the
French- and Spanish-speaking islands.
Grouped according to the countries
where their authors were bom or raised, the
selections are presented in a geographical
order that starts out in the two mainland
countries of Guyana and Belize, proceeds
eastward across the sea through Cuba,
Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and
Puerto Rico, then moves south through
Antigua, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Barbados,
Grenada, and finally Trinidad and Tobago, a
neighbor of the first country, Ouyana.
Although at first this order does not strike the
reader as being especially important, after a

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

cover-to-cover reading of the anthology, it
does seem particularly effective in that it
removes some barriers to unity assocated
with the respective "mother countries" and
their languages and distinct signs of
colonialism, and guarantees the relevance of
the issue the editors have chosen to

... these works explore events as
they affect the "private" lives of those
who make or suffer them. In this
respect they would seem to be
distinctly "feminist," at any rate as we
would wish to define the term.

What is "private" is drawn in a series
of portraits of Caribbean females at home and
abroad, starting with Beryl Gilroy's Mama
King in Franpa House (Guyana)

Each afternoon she sat pondering the
number of times that life had
reconstituted her-first as a child, then
as a woman, wife, mother,
grandmother, mad-head old woman,
beggar and finally old woman at
peace at last

In her first reconstition, the intelligent girl
child growing up in the Caribbean has two
main worries: getting an education and not
getting pregnant. On the whole, the mothers
are the ons who push for the education of
their daughters in the hope of averting the
repetition of their own powerlessness, while
fathers ar either hesitant (Merle Collins'
Angl; Grenada) or opposed to it (Janice
Shinebourne, 'This is Modem Times";
Guyana), with the exception of the cue in
BekaLamb by Zee Edgell (Belize). Passing a
scholarship exam can thus be crual, the only
way that even some of the authors included
here were able to start out in their own
careens. But getting pregnant is the greatest
foil in their attempt to gain their personal (and
private) independence, and it often results in
madness (Joycie in Bka Lab) or expulsion,
as in Erna Brodber's "Into This Bematiful
Garden" (Jamaica):

She was taking castor oil for it but her
baby father box the glass out of her

hand and she never get to drink it and
her father kick her with his water
boots and run her out of the house.

If they are lucky, girls will have
mothers who will spell out for them the extent
of male power.

Simon, now, because he is man, he
start off as boss already. You have to
work for it. Study yourself. (Angel

Sometimes, men will spell out that
powerlessness for them. Looking at the
swollen ulcer in a woman's leg, a young
doctor in Rosario Fene's 'The Youngest
Doll" (Puerto Rico) tells his father, also a
doctor, that he could have cured it from the
start. The answer

That's true. .but I just wanted you
to come and see that prawn that had
been paying for your education these
twenty years.

All of these young girtis, however,
do not necessarily accept things as adults
would want them to. In Michelle Cliffs "No
Telephone to Heaven" (Jamaica), Clare resists
her father's counsels on the advisability of
seats, self.effaceneat and blending in when
they are in New York, and te girl in Magali
Garda Ramis' "Every Sunday" (Puerto Rico)
does not take communion, although she will
be iticized by her aunt, and seaetly
expresses the desire to be a heretic, just like
her father. In "Do Angels Wear Brassieres?,"
moreover, Olive Senior (Jamaica) creates a
picaresque character who shocks a visiting
archdeacon by asking riddles and questions
like the one in the title, which he could not
answer. She is a definite forerunner of the
Caribbean woman whose private and public
spheres will one day merge in such a way that
she will no longer only be affected by events;
quite the contrary, she will reconstitute life
instead of being reconstituted by it
In the meantime, the Caribbeans
portrayed in these narratives range from
victims to independent beings (to the extent
that that is possible). A victim of rape in
Sylvia Wynter Carew's Hills of Hebron

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

(Jamaica), she is a victimzer who abuses her
own children and is thus estranged from them
because she has let her anger at the financial
presures she endures settle her into fits of
fury in "Photograph" by Dionne Brand
(Trinidad and Tobago). She has to cope with
her deflated self-esteem when her husband
tells her "Yu get ole and ugly" in "Closing the
Case" by Joan Riley (Jamaica) and in her
adaptation to new circumstances:

She couldn't bear the thought of them
finding her not ony recently divorced,
fat, middle-aged, and, to top it off,
with money problems. (Carmen Lugo
Filippi, "Recipes for the Gullible";
Puerto Rico)

But she can also cut and contrive and
make a living for her children, intending to
"make life her own way" ("Ivy" by Grace
Nichols, Guyana); decide to have a child in
spite of its father's negative wishes ("A Man,
A Woman" by Omega Agtero, Cuba); and be
"independent behind her tray on the turned-
over empty box which served as her stool" in
"Elizabeth" by Marion Patrick-Jones (Trinidad
and Tobago). Thee are even some groups of
friends: four of them are together on a roof
during a priest's hour of loving in "The
Window by Hihna Contreras (Dominican
Republic), and when together, five Guyanese
women "let down their guard and were subtle
and humorous" in spite of their poverty in
"This Is Modem Tunes" by Janice
These selections also include the
favorable portraits of grandmothers tat
Caribbean authors, like Latina and Afro-
American ones, have made us come to expect
Grandmothers teach them all the words they
know in "Photograph" (Diomnne Brand,
Trinidad and Tobago); proudly sing slave
songs and say their hearts dance when they
bond with their granddaughters in Simone
Schwarz-Bart's "Queen Without a Name"
(Guadaloupe); express "an essential attitude
before the whole of existence" with a Scips.,
and have the power of owning their land,
which becomes, in a granddaughter's eyes,
Hodge's "Her True-True Name" (Trinidad
and Tobago).

The composite portrait (which also
includes servants, ghosts, peasants turned
ladies, thirty-nine-year-old virgins, and
alcoholics) is revealing in other ways:
mother-daughter relationships can be quite
stormy (Jamaica Kincaid, "Marles";
Antigua); "good" Cuban families justify their
reticmce about letting fifteen-year-old
daughters pick coffee in the mountains with
bgadiaj who might be black by trying to
instill in them fears of rape and loss of
virginity; Africa, where one can supposedly
go to put down or find one's roots, is
represented as "apast of which nothing is left"
in Maryse Cond6 s "Eikia" (Guadaloupe) or a
place where "everything is a show" in Myrim
Warer-Vieyra's liuetme (Guadaloupe).
Yet feminism is not the only point of
convergence between these authors, or even
between them and others, of either sex,
writing in the Caribbean. Issues of race,
class, politics, religion, witchcraft, music,
sex, nature and memory, the mettle of
Caribbean literature, am also explored here.
Some of these selections, in fact, are not
overtly about feminist topics. Ana Lydia
Vega's "Cloud Cover Caribbean," for
example, has all male shipwrecked characters
seeking a better life in Miami. In
"Monologue" (Jamaica), Velma Pollard's male
protagonist goes mad "against all the eyes that
told him that nothing could ever make him
make it." A father returning from war in 'The
Master Comes Home" (Phyllis Shand Allfrey,
Dominica) feels like a stranger and has "the
look of a wonderer, without direction," while
he reads A la Reddier du Temp Pe .
As reconstituted by these women
authors in both male and female characters,
then, the "private self" does give loose
cohesion to the anthology. The wider
audience the editors want to reach will
certainly be introduced to the major Caribbean
writers of the twentieth century and their
concerns. In the future, one would hope, the
register of Caribbean countries represented in
another edition or volume of this anthology
will be amplified to induds not only the
authors from the Dutch-speaking acres the
editors regret not being able to include, but
others from French- and Sp h-speaking
regions such as French Ouiana, Colombia and
Venezuela. As our sense of each other grows,

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

so will the realization that, together, we do
form a distinct area.

Mara Soledad Rodriguez

University of Puerto Rico
Cayey, Puerto Rico

Caribbean New Wave: Contemporary
Short Stories.
Selected by Stewart Brown.
London/Kingston: Heinemann, 1990.

This is a collection of twenty-three
short stories that, together, provide a
distinctive narrative of the post-colonial
Anglophone Caribbean. The stories reflect the
multi-ethnic and multicultural-Afro-
Caribbean, Indian (Hindu and Muslim),
Chinese, Creole-composition of the region.
Some stones are exphidtly set in spedfic
locales-Belize, Jamaica, Trinidad-others in
anonymous but unnistakeably Caribbean
island settings. While disparate in structure
and content, they give this reader the
impression of sometimes blending into one
another, a response which this review will try
to relate to the parallels in the social text
underwriting each piece. If fiction can be rcad
as providing a coherent narrative to the project
of cultural identity, national and individual,
then these stories can be read as touching on
issues aucial to cultural studies at the
The stories are mostly written in what
may be called "nation-language," in
Brathwaite's (History of the Voice. London:
Beacon, 1985) terms, and thus linguistically
innovative. They use traditional mimetic
forms. They are however self-conscious
about the role of memory in narrative (F. B.
Andzi, Jamaica Kincaid) and could be read as
playing out a dynamic of desire and
disenchantment. Thus, expatriate writers (of
whom this collection has many) "express" (in
the two meanings of the word, give thought

to, and rid themselves of) desire for the
community, the island, the memories of
childhood and youth by reconstructing, in
Benedict Anderson's (magned Communitics
London: Verso, 1983) terms, an "imagined
community." This desire informs many of the
material descriptions of island experience,
lyrical and brutal.
Contemporary cultural theory is
interested in the exclusions of nation-
construction, in the way cultural and political
nationalism has been taken over as a male,
middle-class enterprise. This collection
provides perspectives on this contention, with
reference to both cdam and gender. The
relation of post-colonial middle dass to
metropolitan (here, Canada and the U.S.)
worlds features repeatedly. In F. B. Andre,
Cyril Dabydeen, Lorna Goodison, the stories
outline the complex collaborative position of
the island's upwardly mobile with both
"national" and "cosmopolitan" identity. But
the collection is far from having a bourgeois
thrust. Quite a few of the stories articulate the
voices of the humble and poor, the hitherto
siknt sections of sodety: Shoemaker Arnold
(Eazr Lovelace), Bahadur the "coolie"
(Rooplall Monar), the young shop girl Julie
(Zoila Ellis), the frustrated young housewife
turned seamstress (Hazel Campbell).
The emergence of woman as subject
in these stories throws interesting light on the
representation of masculinity. The male-
female relation can be read figuratively, and
woman can often become, in the male
consciousness, a signifier for his own desires
and anxieties rather than an autonomous
entity. Thus, she can be anti-national-woman
becomes associated with "corruption" by
metropolitan values or escape from the island
to freedom in Canada and the U.S.: Bella in
"Bella Makes Life" (Goodison) and Lily in
"Bienvenue an Canada" (Andrt). Often,
however, as in Mammita's Garden Cove"
(Dabydeen), "Miss Dorcas" (James Berry)
and "Thursday Wife" (Campbell), she is the
embodiment of the traditional values of the
land, represented alternatively as resilient
(Manumta), self-sacrificing and long-
suffering. In "Duppy Get Her" (Opal Palmer
Adisa) the identification of woman with
traditional beliefs can lead to speculation on

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

the use of woman in recovering mdigenous
These representations of women point
to what I read as a subtext of masculine
anxiety, sometimes told in a comic vein, as in
"Bahadur," sometimes with more tragic
overtones. Two of the stories tell of the
adored male hero's death: the rash and
brilliant young Indian doctor Johnny
Seecharan and the stickfighter Bogo. in
Andre's and Willi Chen's pieces, respectively.
Told from the point of view of a Nick
Carraway-like narrator, in both heroism
comes to a violent end. Several of the stories
(Adisa's "Duppy Get Her," Berry's "Miss
Dorcas," Campbell's "Thursday Wife,"
Chen's "The Stickfighter," Goodison's "Bella
Make Life") feature the anxieties of the male
protagomst--sexual, spiritual, economic. The
crisis is presented as a worsening marital
relation, usually signalled by the wife's
increasing awareness: This happens in
"Thursday Wife" and Andre's "Bienvenue an
Canada." These anxieties are clearly
contextualized in the difficult realities of the
neo-colonial Caribbean.

Nalini Natarajan

University of Puerto Rico
Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico

Stewart Brown.
Lngard's Bridge.
Wales: Seren Books of Poetry Wales
Press, 1989.
In Tnder (1986), Stewart Brown's
first book of poems, the title-poem, set in
Niger, maps the legacy of empire. The
arrogance of colonialism that divided and
ruled "a continent with squares and calipers"
is now cruelly manifest in "the stipulated
portrait" of the present "Comrade General,
General Comrade" who "smiles sternly" over
his beggar-kingdom where Achebe and
Soyinka are banned as "dealers in ideas,

smuggling subversion," where "more or less,
the truth rules." Beyond this, and enclosing
it, is Africa in all its magnificent perversity.
The title-poem of Brown's new
volume is placed in Nigeria and is an
emanation of "Zindcr," perhaps even a
summing up of the poets Africa experience.
The bridge of this daring long poem is both
historical fact and symbol; it is the "dislocated
elbow of the Empire" where Africa-men like
Frederick Lugard "crossed" into the continent
to be "the king" of a "fickle/ unenamoured
folk." To Lugard, "discretion proved the
better part/ or conquest," and during his tenure
as High Commissioner of the Hanslands in
the early 1900s, he determined to "patronise
the Emirsj cultivate their tongues insinsinuate
their ways with medicine/ and education."
What could possibly be wrong--the intricate
culture of the gida (compound) not
withstanding-with "Shakespeate/ quinine and
the Trinity?" This was "the logic/ of Colonial
Rule" whose "'Great Ideal'" was "to secure
the world" and rule it with the "finest race."
As the avarice of empire gave way to
the promiscuity of local greed, it becomes
dear that in "every dusty town between/ the A
and F in AFRICA" everything and nothing
has changed as the "bloated Marxcyst
Governors," the "'immoral multi-national
corporations,'" and the politics of "dash"
flourish in the raucouss brutal limbo." Then,
as now, the superior inelegance of the Joberg
Nazi cuts through time like an asagai: "they
just don't quite have what it takes, up top.'"
This is the language of while mischief, of
indigenous terror, of the neo-imperialist with
Nikon and guide. For romantics like Lugard,
Africa presented apromethean challenge
which naively pitted European energy against
a Continent's opaque power. As that
misguided zeal dwindled, it has been replaced
by the indifference of Africa's new-men who
prosecute their revisionist ambitions, like their
hated colonial ancestors, without a touch of
With "Lugard's Bridge," Stewart
Brown rescues an otherwise ordinary
collection of poems by projecting the
impotence of intruding on th un-enterabler
place. Concomitantly, it explores, as Ernst
Rscher did in his writings on art and
revolution, the tremendous loss of will at

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

journey's enad. Finally, the poem takes the
risk of locating personal fear in another's
trembling by crossing the bridge into the
empty quarter of human rapacity, into the
darkness without heart.

Michael Sharp

University of Puerto Rico
Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico

BREAD AND PUPPET: La estetica de
la lentitud o se detiene "la movida"

(Una reseia de "La pasidn segdn Adolfina
Villaiueva"-prcsenIadaen Puerto Rico cl 27
al 30 de marzo de 1989--originalmente
publicada en DiAlog. mayo de 1989: 26.)

El tema
Tal vez demasiado cerca al fuego, los
nihos (y los adults tambi6n) so alborozan
cuando la tone de 20 pies con la cara grande
de Judas Quifiones so desploma en llamas.
Judas-comercante, Judas-promotor del
turismo, Judas-prorgido por las leyes, Judas-
traidor, Judas-canfbal, queda hecho cenizas y
palos dc bambW. Estamos en el mismo bote,
el de Dofia Adolfina y no el de Judas, en la
media en que la deformaci6n causda por el
colonialismo, y especialmente en su forma fea
del turismo "tropical", demuestra que el
consumo nos estA comiendo a todos. En este
caso, los deshauciados no son los unicos
condenados de la tina. La McDonald-
izaci6n, la hotel-izaci6n, la cetro comcrdal-
izci6n, la autopista-izaci6n, la medios-
izaci6n, la monocultua-izac6n y la trismo-
izaci6n convierten en canfbales a individaos,
ncgocios, institucioncs y hasta a los gobiemos
enteros que prefieren sacar y comer el pelkjo
del vedno antes que perder su pequeia ventaja
frente al imperio. Esta es la situaidn que
describe el poeta neoriqueno Pedro Pietri en
"Puerto Rican Obituary' como

Hating, fighting, and stealing

broken windows from each other.

"La pasi6n segdn Adolfina
Villanueva", producci6n conjunta de
mtegrantes del teatro BREAD AND PUPPET
y do estudianes y teatzeros pucrtoniqudios,
trata precim e el tema del canfbal-el que
mata y come no tanto para ellnar los
bolsillos como para participar en la
administiacidn de la colonial.
Para lograr expresar ese tema BREAD
AND PUPPET utiliza formnnas casi nummca
vistas en el teatro conventional: La
yuxtaposici6n e interaci6n del movimicnto
coreogrAfico de masa, la cmraci6n de m6sica
instrumental y do sonidos natmrakls, las
banderas y tlas pintadas, la reitadc6n coral,
la proccsi6n de una "estad6n" a otra, cucntos
y mitos antiguos, rescatados y representados
como analogias a los events contemporineos
y los muaecos (PUPPETS), que son
esculturas individuals que transmiten
imgenes suprahumanas de alegrfa, pena,
sdfimicato y resurrecin. Estos so mueven,
gesticulan aunque casi nunca hablan. El estilo
visual tiee mm sdflkz y blleza que parece
trazar ma lnea que se extiende desde las
pintumas de las cuevas prehistriicas, transit
por las artes populares orientaks y las de la
Edad Media en Europa, cruza a trav6s del
primilvismo del arte modemo y ilega hasta la
temblica de la supervivenda humana en
confrontaci6n con las annas nrceares, el
impcrialismo y la violaci6n de la tierra.

El pdblico
"La pasi6n seg6n Adolfina
Villanucva" fue una rprsentaci6n gratis,
abiemta a todo publico, al aire libre, con un
reparto de unos satenta partipantcs-la gran
mayoria puertomquefios-y con la intend6n
poticade analizar el deshaudo y la muerte a
balazos de Doia Adolfina Villanueva en
febrero de 1980. Los espacios teatraks
fueron los ahededores y el parquc de pelota de
Pifiones, la grama y la escakoa frente a la
Tone del Rednto de Rio Piedras y los campos
y las plazas del Cokgio Universitario de
Humacao y del Recinto Universitario de
Con todo lo peculiar de esta situadn,
Ilegaron aln unos cintos do espectadores a
desfilar con el grapo, a oir la cacofonla

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

musical de tambores, trompetas, daincles,
flautas, trombones y voces, a ver los muiccos
giganes escutmales y para atestiguar la
"pasi6n" teatral. La composici6n y la cacci6n
de los pdbhcos fucron distintas en cada lugar
y fund6n-los vocinos [de Dofia Adolfina) de
Pifiones se vefan tmidos al principio, mientras
quc los cstudiantes, professors y sus hijos en
Rio Piedras no tenfan rlesrvas algmas; los
espectadores en Humacao, tal vez monos
iniados en artes alternas, no respondicron
con el afan inmediato del pfblico universitaio
de Cayey, ya un poco mis acostumbrado a
obras "raras".
,Curl fue la am aza que prc ait6 la
Froducc6n de BREAD AND PUPPET sobre
La pasi6n segn Adolfimna Villanueva"? El
m6todo ticne ss limitaciones: tendemda a
vec s simplonas, el uso de muiecos, telas y
banderas ya existntes, un p6blico intelectual-
artista (en Rio Piedras) compuesto de los ya
inciados (pero no los YUPPIES. como indic6
una resefa de peri6dico), la dificoltad do
adaptarse a situaciones locales, la no inclu6n
de mas elements plAsticos puertoniqueaos,
eto6tera. Pero mas quc cualquicr otra cosa "La
pasidn segfn Adolfina Villwva" mostr6 la
pobreza del teatro convencioml y la reaccdn
defensiva-cfnica de los que screen a el mundo
commercial del show businessy la fartndula.
La mera posibilidad de un arte que se abre a
todo pdblico sin barriers cowndmicas crea
inquietudes y revela las iseguridades de los
individuos y las institocones que tratan de
controlar las fonnas culturales.

La estetica de la lentitud
Tal vez la importanda de la
colaboraci6n entm los minimcros de BREAD
AND PUPPET y los icatfros do ac reside en
la cread6n de una expeecia tealral q esti
fucra dey a la vez es pate de la espeaficidad
puertorriquefia. Esa sensaaddn de afuera/de
dentro estableo una cicrta tesi6n, un
conflict damatico especial. Cuando todo lo
de aqui subraya acd6n, mfica, palabras y
movimiento, BREAD AND PUPPET ofrece
una conuraposic6n con so insist*nda en una
acd6n dctenida, congelada, un anti-itmo
musical, u sikacio que habla y una lentid
de los muiecos y de los gestos grande. Por
qu6? Para poder ver, para detener "la
movida, paraparar el flujo de la vida

cotidiana y para indagar sus condidonms
subyacentes: "Sf a la vida humana, a la
naturaleza no conlaminada, a las necoadades
de tierra, buena comida, cass y ropa y al
espirtd bondadoso, pero "No" a la
explotacidn, al canibalismo, a la violad6n y la
contaminaci6n de la naturaleza, a las armas y
plants nudcales, al militarismo. al
impcrialismo y a lo no esencial del
consumisionismo-quc include a los medios
de comunicaci6n, al how business y al teatro
comrcial-quc so ha convertido on obsesi6n
cultural y que funciona para esconder las
necesidades blsicas y reales de la mayorfa de
los pertoniqueos. La estetica de la lentid
deticne, si solo por un moment, el cone-
corre dianio par dejamos ver las condicon
actual del canibalismo colonial y cl consume
que nos tiene comidndonos los unos a los

Lowell Fet

University of Puerto Rico
Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

Journal Exchange

Anas del Carib. Centro de Estudios del Caribe, Cas de las Amricas. Emilio Jorge
Rodriguez, editor. Address Casa de las Amicas,3ra. y G, El Vedado, Ciudad de
la Habana, Cuba.

Canadian Journal of Plitical and Sodal The Arthmr Krokr and Marilouise Kroker,
editors. Address: Concordia University, 7141 Sherbrooke St. West, Montreal,
Quebec H4B 1R6.
Carto. West Indian Association for Commonwealth .iterature and Language Studies.
Address; Department of English, Univerity of the West Indies, Kingston 7,

Caribbean Stud Instituto de Estudios del Caribe, Facultad de Ciencia Sociales,
Univezrdad de Puerto Rico. Marta M. Quiiones, editor. Address Institute of
Caribbean Studies, P. O. Box 23361, University Station, Rio Piedras, Puerto
Rico 00931.
The Caribbean Wier. Eika J. Smilowitz, editor. Address Caribbean Research Institute,
University of the Virgin Islands, RR 02, Box 10,000, Kingshill Post Office, St.
Croix, Virgin Islands 00850.

Cn'mit: Tcat&o linAm no Casa de las Amricas. Magaly Maguacra, editor.
Addre Casa de las Am6icas, 3ra. y Vedado, Ciudad de laHabna,Cuba.

Discoum: Journal for Theortical Studies in Media and Culmre. Roswitha Mueller and
Kathleen Woodward, editors. Addream Center for Twentieth Century Studies,
Univenity of Wisconsmn-Milwaukee, P.O. Box 413, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201.
Indigo. The Spanhr-anadian Psence in the Ar Margaita Feliciano, editor. Address:
Room 252, A&kinson College, York University, Norih York, Ontario M3J 1P3.

Joumal of West India Litratme. Mark A. McWatt, editor. Addcies Department of
English, University of the West Indies, P. O. Box 64, Bridgetown, Barbados.

Kvk.Over l Ian McDonald, editor. Address: c/o Guysuco, 22 Churdh Street,
Georgetown, Guyana.

Svacou. Edward Kaman Braihwaite, editor. Address: P.O. Box 170, Mona, Kingston 7,

SARGASSO 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

Notes on Contributors

Ailecne Alvarez is a rofional translator and the librarian of the Lewis C. Ridchardson Seminar
Room at the University of Puerto Rico.

John V. Antush is a professor of English at Fcrdham University. His second book on Puerto Rican
drama in New York is scheduled for publication in 1991.

Lowell FiRt is the editor of Sargasso and teaches at the University of Puerto Rico.

Julio Garda is a Puerto Rican graphic artist He works in he Graphic Arts section of the Department
of Cultural Activities at the University of Puerto Rico.

Peter Hulme is a senior lecturcr of Literatur at the University of Essex. He is a frequent visitor to
the Caribbean and recently completed a major research project in Domirnca.

Rosa Luinsa Mrquez teaches in the Drama Department of the Umversity of Purto Rico. She is also
de director of Los Teatmos Amhbulanmto e d a (Theater Artists in-Actimn), one of the most
innovative theater groups in Puerto Rico.

Nalin Natarajan is a specialist in pastcolonial literary studies and teadia in the English Departmut
at the University of Puerto Rico.

Rosalina Pales writes frequently on Puerto Rican mid Latin American theater amd drmna. She
teaches at the Humacao Campus of the Univerty of Puerto Rico.

Joseph R. Pereia specializes in the literanre of the ispanic Caribbean. He is also the academic dean
of the Art and lAm faculty at the Univcaty of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica.

Alan Persico specializes in hispanic studies and is an academic dean at Dhe University of Guyana.
Vivian Otero is a professional translator who lives and works in Puerto Rico.

Maria Soledad Rodriguez teaches English and Comparative Litrature at fhe Cayey Campus of the
University of Puerto Rico.

Midiael Sharp teaches in the English Department at the University of Puerto Rico. His poetry mand
iticism appear in numerous litery journals.

Hyadnth Simpson is a (poet)graduate student of English at the Univerity of fe West Indies, Mona,

Sargaaso 7 (1990): Caribbean Theater

SARGASSO 6 (1989): Caribbean Fiction

Julio Garcia, (drawings) "Ecloi6n final" .................... ......... Cover
and "La espera" ................................... iii

"Lis Rafael Sanchez and L De 1
Ana D. Alvarado, Maia Milagros Lopez, and Wanda E. Ramos,
"Celebrating ife and the Rearticulation of Mytho-Misogyny".. . 2

Ana Lydia Vega, "The Story of Rice and Beans" (story) ................... 8

Lee Erwin, "Please Stop': Women's Time in Vovae in ft Dak" ........... 12

Kathym Robinson, "The Blue-eyed Loner" (story) ...................... 23

LUzabeth Paravisn, "Revolt and Rebirth in the Contemporury
Caribbean Novel" ..................................... 29

"Jean Rhys, Wide SarMasso Sea. and the Question of Feminism" ............. 40
Maria Crisina Rodiguez, "he Discoume of Power in Wide Sarasso Sea" 41

Gerald Guinness, "Wide Sargso Sea: Two Arguments" ........... 43

Lowell Ret, "Reading History Into Subjectivity in Wide Sargasso Sea .... 47

Diane Accaria, "History: The Stuff Nightmaes are Made of in
W ide Sarg sso Sea ............................... 52

Books Reviews
Susan Homar A 9aLl Phac by Jamaica Kincaid ...................... 57
Consuelo Lpez Springfield The Enigma of Arival by V. S. Naipaul ........ 60

Carol Matravalgyi Negrdn: claiming M a: Short Stories by
ContinMvor Perto Rican Women edited by Diana V61cz ..... 62
Patriia Padfico Sweet Diamond Dust by Rosario Ferr6 .................. 66

Mada Cristina Rodriguez: El ramo anda: emyos pnrtorriqumios
dehy edited by Ana Lydia Vega ...................... 69

Gerald Guinness: The Atanss Testament by Derek Walcott ............. 72

Books Received and Journal Exchange ........................ 79

Notes on Contributors .................................. 80

Table of Contents Sargasso 5 (1988) ......................... 81

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atro de Estudios
del Caribe

Canadian Journal of







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SARGASSO 7 (1990)

SARGASSO is published by

with the assistance of the offices of the

Dean of Academic Affairs
Dean of Administration
of the
Rfo Piedras Campus of the
University of Puerto Rico

Caribbean Theater

forthcoming in SARGASSO:

SARGASSO 8 (1991): Caribbean Film


articles on the Caribbean and its cultural representations

book reviews

play reviews

film reviews

histories of Caribbean performance groups and theaters



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