By Anthony James Kubiak
From the earliest Puritan screens of piety and rectitude to the present-day epidemic of staged university massacres, the background of the USA has been characterised by way of a twin impulse: to forged public occasion and personality as excessive drama, and to brush aside theater and theatricalization as un-American, even evil. This ebook rethinks American historical past as theater, and theater because the ethos and substance of yank existence, mockingly repudiated at each flip through the tradition it produces. starting with the writings of John Winthrop and others, throughout the Federalist and ''romantic'' levels of yank cultural existence, and into the fashionable and modern sessions, Anthony Kubiak reveals an the United States now not often stumbled on by means of conventional or materialist techniques to background. He deploys the psychoanalytic concept of Jacques Lacan, the cultural thought of SlavojZizek, and the functionality conception of Herbert Blau in an unheard of reappraisal of dominant American identification, tradition, and historical past. Anthony Kubiak is affiliate Professor of English, college of South Florida. he's additionally writer of levels of Terror: Terrorism, Ideology, and Coercion as Theatre historical past .
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Extra info for Agitated States: Performance in the American Theater of Cruelty
The full effect of Wigglesworth's writing is, as I have suggested, very nearly a recapitulation of the Puritan stereotype. He is lust-driven and yet seems quite openly to detest the flesh and hovers dangerously close to Manichaeanism in his suspicion that the physical world is evil. His rejection of sexuality, and his fervent desire to have God relieve him of the temptations of the flesh, his constant physical pains and sickly constitution, his attraction, finally, to a kind of Calvinized Gnos- ticism, in which the stern, vengeful God of Sinai seems to threaten the obliteration of all flesh-suggests a man who, like Artaud, was pos- sessed of a dramatic vision that was finally incapable of play.
The diary thus represents the contents of memory, as well as what that memory could not contain. " And yet the memory that the diary represents also resists historicization, just as any personal memory resists histori- cization unless it is ratified by others who can verify what memory gives over. Memory demands witness, in other words, to move into the domain of the historical. And it is the private and personal nature of the Puritanism and the Early American Theaters of Cruelty 39 diaries that generates this resistance-how do we know that what they represent was in any way typical of the "Puritan mind," or even that such a thing as a Puritan mind existed?
Or rottenly Real in Sam Shepard's Buried Child. And in the end we rest at this present and final recursion; the perfor- mance scenarios of Karen Finley, and the plays of Tony Kushner and Suzan-Lori Parks, lead us back through the very themes of this Ameri- can jeremiad. In Finley, we return to the diaretic and Enthusiastic excesses of Puritan American origins, the endless replay of the ecstasies of social and political violence. In Parks we see the reiteration of the anxieties about authenticity and the theaters of the Real, the multiplica- tion of selves and their insubstantialities.