Background Intercultural. Multicultural. These are highly debated terms in todays media. A dictionary definition of multicultural is simply of or pertaining to a society of varied cultural groups. It is used to acknowledge the rich diversity of American society and also to challenge the achievements and values of Western European culture.
Background In this era of concerns for representing minorities and all cultures in society, political groups, on campuses, and in arts institutions, such words as multicultural, intercultural, ethnicity, and fusion abound in the new dialogue on cultural diversity.
Background Whereas multicultural celebrates the separateness and distinctions of diverse cultural groups existing side by side, interculturalism examines the collisions of those cultures, orientations, and ideologies.
Background What has not been or cannot be successfully fused is seen not as disasters or indictments of Western civilization but as fertile rifts of creative possibilities. Thus, there emerge in works of art the tensions between the Islamic and English literary practices in the novels of Salman Rushdie, the mixing of forms, texts, and performers by director Peter Brook, the theater anthropology of Eugenio Barba, and the performance art of Guillermo Gomez-Pena and Anna Deavere Smith.
Background Whereas the multicultural generates political and scholarly writings, interculturalism has fostered new art about cultures co-existing uneasily.
The Intercultural Text The intercultural text, first, demonstrates the collision of cultures. It takes its tensions and conflicts from the cultural uneasiness defining, for example, life in the United States in the last decades of the twentieth century. The intercultural text for the theater is rich and engaging in the artists efforts to confront and explore those cultural edges where fusion has not taken place.
The Intercultural Text In particular, plays by Hispanic American writers examine those failed cultural fusions in lives dislocated from a familiar language, people, and customs. Many plays by Asian American playwrights, like David Henry Hwang, focus on cultural differences and racial identities that lead to generational and personal conflicts.
U.S. Hispanic and Latino/a Playwriting Since the late sixteenth century, a Spanish-speaking theater whose purpose was to preserve Hispanic traditions and language has existed in North America. The new Latino/a writers who were writing in styles and subjects outside the mainstream of American traditions found stages in workshops and converted neighborhood spaces to test the waters of their new subjects: the border experience, colliding cultures, issues of ethnicity and gender, old-world taboos versus new-world lifestyles.
U.S. Hispanic and Latino/a Playwriting Machados The Modern Ladies of Guanabacoa, Moragas Shadow of a Man, Sanchez-Scotts Roosters, and Riveras The House of Ramon Iglesia focused national attention on new voices in the American theater who were presenting new ways to understand Latino/a identity and explore issues of assimilation, marginalization, and political and artistic bias heretofore ignored by the mainstream culture and its institutions.
Eduardo Machado is a playwright in motion, the reflection of a life in motion. Born in Cuba, his family fled to Miami when he was seven, and then moved on to Los Angeles where they began their new life. Eduardo kept moving: beyond the conservatism of his upbringing, beyond the parochialism of a single culture, beyond the confines of a single form of theatrical expression. He is simultaneously writing plays for HBO and CBS, while two of his earlier plays, Stevie Wants to Play the Blues and Once Removed, are opening in Los Angeles and San Francisco this winter. Today, he is in a coffee shop on Amsterdam Avenue, and for a moment we talk not about where he is going, but where he has come from.
Critical Introduction to Broken Eggs Eduardo Machado (1953-) was born in Havana, Cuba, and grew up in nearby Cojimar. Born on the day Fidel Castro launched the Cuban revolution, he grew up in its shadow. Eduardo Machado holds a faculty appointment in the School of the Arts at Columbia University New York City, and heads the graduate program in playwriting there.
Critical Introduction to Broken Eggs Broken Eggs, the fourth play in Eduardo Machados Floating Island tetralogy, was first produced in 1984 by New Yorks Ensemble Studio Theater. The Spanish version, entitled Revoltillo, was performed three years later at New Yorks Repertorio Espanol. The earlier plays are set in Cuba in the 1920s and in the 1950s. Broken Eggs continues the story of modern Cuba with Marquez-Hernadndez family now transplanted to a suburb of Los Angeles in 1979.
Critical Introduction to Broken Eggs Written in two acts, the play examines the problems faced by a formerly wealthy Cuban family experiencing life in exile in the United States. The transplanted Hispanic culture of the Marquez-Hernandez family emphasizes the frissons in their lives rather than an assimilation into the dominant culture. The wedding is the playwrights occasion for bringing the family together in celebration and nostalgia.
Critical Introduction to Broken Eggs Broken Eggs is a play that examines the collisions of two cultures and the reactions of three generations involved in the collision. Broken Eggs is a comedy of family values tested against an alien culture and found to be strong and enduring. Despite the anger, unhappiness, confusion, and emotional chaos, the family, although somewhat frayed, survives intact. Stetson University Stover Theatre February 2007
Critical Introduction to Broken Eggs As an example of the intercultural text, Broken Eggs sets forth the dysfunction of a Hispanic family forced to relocate to Southern California as an outcome of the Cuban revolution. The divorced parents, Sonia and Osvaldo, are at the center of Machados intercultural story, for they exhibit the fragility and sharp edges of people existing in limbo – holding on to the past and watching helplessly the erosion of their lives in the present.
Critical Introduction to Broken Eggs The grandparents are forever separate from the new culture by inherited rituals and customs; the grandchildren have connected; but the middle- aged parents are suspended between two cultures. Their pain and fragile accommodations are the material of Machados intercultural art. In the regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival regional competition in Greensboro, N.C. Florida International University 's production of Eduardo Machado's The Cook
Performing Broken Eggs Eduardo Machados plays and musicals have been produced since 1981 by the Ensemble Studio Theatre and Repertorio Espanol (New York City), the Long Wharf Theatre (CT), the Williams-town Theatre Festival (MA0, the Humana Festival of Actors Theatre Lousville (KY), Cincinnati Playhouse (OH), and the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.
Performing Broken Eggs Machados Floating Islands in general and Broken Eggs in particular focus on domestic power struggles as a mirror for a society in flux. The staging of Machados epic tetralogy about four generations of Cubans stretching from 1929-1980 opened in October 1995 at Los Angeles Mark Taper Forum.
Critics Notebook on Hispanic American Drama The theatrical diversity of the American theater has generated a plethora of scholarly books on the history of Hispanic American writing in the United States. The following commentary by Caridad Svich, resident playwright at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and editor/translator of books on Maria Irene Fornés and García Lorca, traces the development of Latino/a drama by a new generation of playwrights who worked at New York Citys INTAR ( the Hispanic American Arts Center)
Caridad Svich, from Out of the Fringe In the margins, in the black boxes, clubs, art galleries, performance spaces, garages, basements, universities, cabarets, poetry slams and other alternative spaces, a new kind of Latina/o theatre and performance aesthetic has been forged over the last ten years: a bold frank, uncompromising, lyrical, private, metaphorical kind of work that re-visions what it is to be a Latina/o dramatist in the U.S. Created outside the mainstream of official culture (both Latina/o and Anglo). This new generation of theatrical writing seeks to deconstruct and reconstruct not only theatrical forms but also the boundaries by which those forms have been created.
Caridad Svich, from Out of the Fringe In the 1970s and 1980s, Latina/o dramatists were encouraged by the bold experiments of master playwright and teacher María Irene Fornés, activist and storyteller Luis Valdez, maverick playwright and pioneering publisher of Latino/a work Pedro Monge-Rafuls, and a handful of other brave writers who were testing the uncharted, previously forbidden waters of American theatrical writing.
Asian American Playwriting As early as the 1850s, Asian theater and opera traditions were imported by laborers from China and by Japanese and Filipino workers settling in the United States at the turn of the century. Many workers and their families remained clustered in neighborhoods within major port cities, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and New York City.
Asian American Playwriting In order to combat the stereotyping and provide venues for their work, Asian- and American-born writers and artists found it necessary to establish their own theaters and cultural centers. Their works, old and new, exploded narrow stereotypes and misperceptions about Asian culture, people, and traditions.
Asian American Playwriting In the wake of the civil rights movement in the late sixties and early seventies, Asian American artists formed small theater companies in major cities to tell their own stories with authentic voices. In the last two decades, Asian American artists have emerged as unique voices in the American theater, addressing complex issues of race, prejudice, family, compromise, identity, and struggles for self-fulfillment.
Asian American Playwriting David Henry Hwangs work has been chosen here as an example of intercultural writing that reveals the collision of two cultures (East and West) and thereby exposes the rough cultural edges in the politics of race, gender, class, sexuality, and identity. Golden Child shows individuals caught up in the colliding of traditional Chinese culture and beliefs with Western Christian beliefs and social mores. The dualities make for a richly complex and theatrical text.
Borders of Identity: Where is Home? In the play, the characters are basically outsiders, living a kind of border existence, at home in neither country. Whether consciously or unconsciously, Machado places his characters outside of the reception hall, literally on the margins. We see them on the outside, looking into the reception. Regardless of their class or social status, they are always aware of their otherness and the borders this position creates. The three-generational family in Broken Eggs reflects the spectrum of todays upper middle-class Cuban family, from the frozen grandparents to the assimilationist bride.
Borders of Identity: Where is Home? The older characters cannot let their grandchildren forget who they are. The following exchange between the grandmother, Manuela, and her granddaughter Mimi, illustrates this preoccupation: MANUELA [in reference to Cuba]: My cousins are starving there. MIMI: At least they know who they are. MANUELA: You dont? Well, Ill tell you. Youre Manuela Sonia Marquez Hernandez. A Cuban girl. Dont forget what I just told you. MIMI: No, Grandma. Im Manuela Sonia Marquez, better known as Mimi Mar-kwez. I was born in Canoga Park. Im a first-generation white Hispanic American. MANUELA: No youre not. Youre a Cuban girl. Memorize what I just told you (Machado, 181).
Borders of Identity: Where is Home? A few minutes before this exchange, Manuela was urging her daughter to use potions to get her husband back, illustrating the syncretic Christianity they practice, a direct reference to the influence of the African slaves who were assimilated into the bloodlines of the colonizers. The African blood in so many Caribbean people suggests a home on that distant continent, but these playwrights do not explore their roots to that degree. In sharp contrast, Chicano playwrights have seldom, if ever, written about their African blood, mirroring the Mexican tradition of discounting such influences.
Borders of Identity: Where is Home? Finally, these three plays reflect the fact that the majority of US-born Latinos, from all three groups, do not have their hearts in a homeland that was never theirs. For all the cajoling the Cuban exiles have used on their grandchildren, these younger people are like the earlier sons and daughters of Chicanos and Puerto Ricans born in the US and who see the United States as home, for better or for worse. Although Machado was born in Cuba, he was only eight years old when he was brought to the States and he does not seem inclined to return, satirizing the older generation that does.The character who become one with the US is the new Mrs. Rifkin in Broken Eggs. She has basically rejected the culture of her parents, denying her cultures as she attempts to escape from her Latin dad into a new home, calling herself American.