ERIC Number: ED248557
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Aug
Reference Count: 0
Historiography, American Theatre, and the First Americans.
Jenkins, Linda Walsh
American theatre history should include a study of Native American performances, since these performances are rich with "American" symbolic materials such as imagery, symbols, and heraldic visions of animals and landscapes. Indian cultures understood the importance of performance for both the visionary and the community at large. Even the pow-wow contains structural elements familiar to Westerners, from vaudeville to Robert Wilson, from circus to opera, from rodeo to Twyla Tharp. Unfortunately, theatre scholarship has refused to call Indian theatre "theatre," in part because of a cultural bias against Indians. The contemporary Indians who are trying to create theatre need access to the written history of Native American performance. For the most part, they know what has been passed along orally in their own tribes and what has been recorded by anthropologists, neither of which provides a "theatre" perception. As a result, many of them have the bias that their traditional performances have nothing whatsoever to do with theatre. But Native American performances are indigenous to this continent and deserve a place in American theatre studies, not just as a bit of exotica, but as a form to value and to utilize in trying to understand how performance interacts with cultures in transition. (HOD)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Theatre Association (San Francisco, CA, August 12-15, 1984).