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Performing Spanishness
History, Cultural Identity and Censorship in the Theatre of José María Rodríguez Méndez
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ISBN 9781841501345
Paperback 228 pages
Published February 2007
Imprint: Intellect
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Books by Michael Thompson
Books in Performing Arts
Chapter Titles     |      Reviews     |      Comments

This book delves into the theatre of Spanish dramatist José María Rodríguez Méndez, one of the most significant Spanish playwrights of the twentieth century and an acerbic cultural commentator.

The book traces the development of Rodríguez Méndez’s work from the hard times of the Franco dictatorship through the uncertainties of the transition to democracy. Rodríguez Méndez’s theatre is saturated by the socially explosive concept of Spanishness, dramatized as a dazzling range of popular performances of cultural identity in various periods from the middle ages to the present. The author locates the kernel of this impression in Rodríguez Méndez's interpretation of 'machismo español' as a volatile yet universal articulation of Spanish identity charged with the dissident voice of popular resistance to constraining political and ideological structures.

The analysis of Rodríguez Méndez's work from the late 1950s to the mid-70s is enriched by detailed evidence from censors' reports, providing fascinating case studies of the unpredictability of censorship under a dictatorial regime. Some of his most powerful plays banned during that time have been revived since 1975, and the book includes discussion of these influential productions.

Chapter titles
Introduction - Page 9
Michael Thompson
1. 'Dramatizing Spanishness' - Page 17
Michael Thompson
2. 'Rodríguez Méndez’s essays: realism, machismo español, inteligencia española and historical theatre' - Page 43
Michael Thompson
3. 'History from below (1): enclosed spaces' - Page 71
Michael Thompson
4. 'History from below (2): open spaces' - Page 103
Michael Thompson
5. 'Leading roles in history' - Page 153
Michael Thompson
6. 'Fading echoes of the past in contemporary Spain' - Page 193
Michael Thompson
'Thompson is able to reveal the more nuanced thinking of a subject whose work squarely addresses questions of where Spanish identity lies, taking against the perceived indiscriminate internationalism of the avantgarde to excavate Spanishness, whilst at the same time attempting to seize it from hegemonic and homogenizing discourses.' – Helena Buffery, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

'Performing Spanishness can be considered a valuable contribution to twentieth-century Spanish theatre studies and a resource for those interested in debates on social and cultural history and Spanish national identities. ' – Catherine O'Leary, Contemporary Theatre Review

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