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Asian “Top Girls” and Historical Amnesia in Sun Mee Chomet’s Asiamnesia

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2019, 32(1), pp.257-278
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama
  • Published : April 30, 2019

Miseong Woo 1

1연세대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Sun Mee Chomet’s Asiamnesia (2008) is an Asian women’s version of Top Girls (1982). Borrowing from Caryl Churchill’s famous plot structure and integrating socialist feminist themes and Brechtian epic theatre devices, Asiamnesia shapes its meaning using intertextuality with Top Girls. Chomet’s play highlights a particular group of women’s historical condition: in this case, Asian women in the American context and, more specifically, Asian female performers framed in the capitalist system of theatre business. The play extends the theme to a new generation’s collective amnesia of cultural history that almost obscures the material conditions and struggles of Asian women from the twentieth century. The purpose of Chomet’s creation of the text was to create opportunities for fellow Asian performers, and the visibility of a racial minority group can be empowering; however, it can also expose itself to the danger of being exploited in a capitalist system of cultural production. Chomet’s play poses questions about the representation of Asian women in the popular consciousness of the twenty-first century and the problematic system of circulating images of women and celebrities in this extremely neoliberal moment in history. Asiamnesia, through its open ending, reminds of us that historical amnesia can be detrimental in the process of developing the cultural identity of individuals, groups, or generations.

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