Migrating Texts: Cross-Cultural Readings of Costa Rican Plays of 1990-2000

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2003-12-05

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Using the framework of globalization studies and theories about intercultural theatre, this dissertation examines how Costa Rican New Wave dramatists explore the flow of ideologies and cultural identities. While these playwrights examine movements across borders and establish varying settings and links to history or other theatrical texts, they remain firmly committed to their local roots by contextualizing their plays for Costa Rican readers and audiences. I begin this study by focusing on plays that are set in Costa Rica and develop imagery allusive to national history. Leda Cavallini's Inquilinos del árbol (1999) and Miguel Rojas's Madriguera de ilusiones (1998) and Hogar dulce hogar (2000) denounce invasions by market-oriented forms of globalization that homogenize local cultures. Cavallini and Rojas put into practice in these plays the views expressed in their writings about the theatrical medium in San José urging dramatists and theatrical companies to create plays and repertories relevant to contemporary Costa Rica. I then consider how Víctor Valdelomar, in El ángel de la tormenta (1990), and Linda Berrón, in Olimpia (1998), set their plays in Medieval and Revolutionary France, respectively, accommodating the historical material to the contemporary Costa Rican socio-political context. Although Valdelomar questions U.S. economic and political hegemony, and Berrón criticizes relying solely upon foreign theories or local activism in the women's movement, both plays suggest that globalization can operate politically in Costa Rica through regional or transnational networks. Finally, I analyze Ana Istarú's Hombres en escabeche (2000), a commercial and critical success in Costa Rica and abroad. Inspired by the Italian play Sesso? Grazie, tanto per gradire! (1996) written by Dario Fo, Franca Rame, and Jacopo Fo, Istarú sets her own play in Costa Rica. However, Istarú also incorporates Western archetypes and employs images and metaphors associated with the plays Flores de papel (1968), by Chilean Egon Wolff, and Cocinar hombres (1986), by Mexican Carmen Boullosa, creating a text with multiple levels of meaning for transnational audiences that questions the fixed nature of gender identity and artistic creativity and suggests that neither Marxism nor neoliberalism provides the answer to Costa Rica's future.

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