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Staging identity : the intracultural theater of Hawaii

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Title:Staging identity : the intracultural theater of Hawaii
Authors:Choy, Sammie L.
Date Issued:Aug 2011
Publisher:[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2011]
Abstract:The theater of contemporary Hawaii has never had an extensive study, nor have its characteristics been separated out from under the all-inclusive term, "Asian American." The term is neither precise nor accurate when applied to Hawaii or its theater.
This study was prompted by the incongruity of a Hawaiian-themed play by a Native Hawaiian playwright published in an Asian American theater anthology. Oddly, there was no acknowledgement in the collection's introduction of the dissonance between the Conversion of Kaahumanu and the Asian American plays. It is only in the brief explanatory text directly pertaining to Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl's play that the indigenous is addressed at all--most of the introduction is concerned with political and cultural issues specifically concerning Asian Americans in the United States (Hawaii is not separated out). This inclusion suggested several conclusions--that indigeneity is considered either subordinate or equivalent to immigrant status; that the "Asian American experience" is the same nationwide that cultural coherence may be imposed by the demographically dominant; and that the theatrical output of Pacific and Oceania may be arbitrarily subsumed by Asian America. Challenging these assumptions required that theater in Hawaii be analyzed as a discrete category. I use Rustom Bharucha's nomenclature of "intracultural theater" to characterize Hawaii's theater in order to account for the proximity of both the Local and the Hawaiian, and Stuart Hall's identity theorizing to account for Hawaii's combination of the fluid and the immutable. In order to theatrize the Hawaiian separately, I use Manulani Aluli Meyer's system of Hawaiian epistemology, as well as Native American literary theory. I explore the use of languages--Hawaiian, Hawaii Creole English, and Standard English--and situate the plays in their historical, political, and cultural specificity. The Local plays are analyzed for commonalities in the social imaginary they represent that of people mainly of color--many times of Asian ancestry, sometimes Hawaiian, sometimes Caucasian--whose history of conflict, accomodation, colonialism, and immigration is reflected in a unique body of theatrical work.
Description:Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2011.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Theatre

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