First Nations Theatre in Postcolonial Context: Interpreting the Fusion of Premodern and Postmodern Cultural Forms in the Americas

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 3:45 PM
Room: 304
Oral Presentation
Jean-Francois COTE , Sociology, University of Quebec in Montreal, Montreal, QC, Canada
The last four or five decades witnessed a remarkable renaissance of First Nations theatre  across all the Americas. This hemispheric artistic renaissance is grounded in a postcolonial context that challenges the modern definitions of national cultures that had mostly ignored, eliminated and silenced the traditional and premodern forms of expressions of the pre-Columbian cultural traditions on the continent. Yet the renaissance of First Nations theatre shows not only that such traditions can be revived and transformed, but that the conditions under which they are performed blend easily with the most innovative experimentations of avant-garde theatre developed in the 20th century. The legacy of Antonin Artaud, Bertolt Brecht and Gertrude Stein can then be seen in the dramaturgical contributions of playwrights like Drew Hayden Taylor, Yves Sioui Durand and Monica Mojica, and theatre groups like Ondinnok or De-Ba-Jeh-Mu-Jig. The performative dimension of such a theatrical artistic renovation is also in touch with the political and legal transformations that accompany the wider cultural movement found in the contemporary postcolonial context of the Americas, and signals the presence of the transnational and transcultural processes at work in there. Using the conceptual tools of cultural pragmatics and hermeneutic theory, this presentation will focus on how the premodern and postmodern cultural forms converge and fuse in creating a hybridized theatre that reflects the transformation of the cultural hemispheric scene of the Americas.