The Adaptation of the Western World: Taking Up (Liminal) Space
- Author(s): Cruz, Mary Isabel;
- Advisor(s): Chemers, Michael M;
- et al.
THE ADAPTATION OF THE WESTERN WORLD:
Taking Up (Liminal) Space
M. Isabel Cruz
American theater remains a decidedly Anglo-patriarchal institution, up to and
including what is deemed worthy of being called “American” theater. Not seeing
themselves represented on stage, people of color have created their own companies,
and endure the criticism of not only engaging in what is sometimes considered a self-
inflicted segregation, but also being seen as inferior to mainstream theater. There is
the need for a third option: a theater between traditionally exclusionary “American”
theater, and the “ethnic” genres that have been reduced to niche theater. I propose
adaptation as that third option.
Through Gloria Anzaldúa’s Nepantla theory, existence between two worlds, I
establish my own need to claim space and tell stories that exist in the in-between; a
liminal space for me and theater makers like me, who don’t quite fit in one designated
space or the other. For this project, I adapted a work from the Irish canon, The
Playboy of the Western World, by John Millington Synge (1907), setting it in a time and
place in U.S. history that is also Latin American history: 19th century California. As I
consider my history and, even as I question my own identity, I propose this
adaptation as a vehicle for representation and self-identification. I conclude that, due
to casting, a staged reading and a workshop production were successful in distinct ways.