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The Representation of Diversity in the New Plays of 2019 Oregon Shakespeare Festival

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2019, 32(3), pp.161-198
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama
  • Published : December 31, 2019

Choi Seok Hun 1

1서울시립대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper reviews the 5 new plays performed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2019 with a focus on the representation of diversity. As a major not-for-profit regional theatre of the US, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, in addition to performing Shakespeare canon, has served as a cradle for new American plays that deal with important social and historical issues. Nevertheless, the festival has received little attention from Korean academia and it is the main purpose of the essay to introduce the new plays to Korean scholars of contemporary American drama as a research archive. The Native American sketch comedy troupe 1491s’ Between Two Knees portrays Native Americans’ struggle to achieve independence between the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre and the 1973 Wounded Knee Occupation. Featuring the California-based band Dengue Fever’s songs, Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band recounts the moving story of a Cambodian man’s survival under the Khmer Rouge to explore the tenacious human spirit of freedom and its powerful expression in rock music. Christina Anderson’s How to Catch Creation is an imaginative play that revolves around six African-American men and women pursuing art and love; the play challenges our conventional assumptions of race and sexuality and captures how we influence and inspire each other’s creative attempts in our daily lives. The international performance history of The God of Vengeance by the Yiddish writer Sholem Asch and the lives of the artists involved in the production are the main focus of Paula Vogel’s recent masterpiece, Indecent. Finally, Octavio Solis’ Mother Road, a sequel to John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wreath, depicts a road trip of two Joad descendants, one white and one Mexican, on the reversed course from California to Oklahoma to satirize anti-Mexican prejudice and immigration laws. These plays altogether constitute a powerful model of diversity that challenges the traditional centrality of middle-class white characters in modern American drama.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.