My research will explore the ways in which historical events are recorded, and how the Indigenous peoples in Latin America performed colonialism in the form of conquest dramas. I will be analyzing the play The End of Atau Wallpa and comparing it to European documents about the fall of Atahualpa in Peru. The significance of this is two-fold: providing another source to Latin American theatre scholarship, and addressing the way historians marginalize the arts as valid sources.
I am considering utilizing the following secondary sources:
Theatre and Cartographies of Power: Repositioning the Latina/o Americas by Jimmy A. Noriega and Analola Santana.
Stages of Conflict: A Critical Anthology of Latin American Theatre and Performance edited by Diana Taylor and Sarah J. Townsend.
Performing Conquest: Five Centuries of Theatre, History, and Identity in Tlaxcala, Mexico by Patricia A. Ybarra.
The essay “Colonial Literature and Social Reality in Brazil and the Viceroyalty of Peru: The Satirical Poetry of Gregorio de Matos and Juan del Valle y Caviedes.” By Lucia Helena S. Costigan, in the book Coded Encounters: Writing, Gender, and Ethnicity in Colonial Latin America.
A painting, Pizzaro Sizing the Inca of Peru (1846) by John Everett Millais.
History’s Peru: The Poetics of Colonial and Postcolonial Historiography by Mark Thurner
One of the research avenues I am toying with pursuing is to review colonial Latin American conquest dramas such as The End of Atau Wallpa and The Loa for the Auto Sacramental of The Divine Narcissus. How do these conquest dramas express the attitudes of the native peoples toward colonization, and how do those performative reflections stack up to primary documents detailing those same attitudes?
In my major, it is important to recognize the importance of pieces of drama from parts of the world that are not Europe. And further, in recognizing those records as historically relevant, they are made all the more important in academia; we should study the texts in the same ways as we study Shakespeare.
As a Theatre major in a research-oriented program and with a plan to pursue directing, I am interested in learning not only the historical facts behind many of what we call “conquest narratives” in Latin American theatrical traditions, but the impact that colonialism has/had on the spread of Latin American cultural traditions in performance. I think that the concept of “high art” versus “low art” are informed by who the supposed winners and losers of history were. This in and of itself is important when considering the study of these performance traditions.
I will be the first to admit fault in the performing arts and arts academia in being Eurocentrically aligned. If you still don’t believe me, tell me why you probably can’t name any plays written by not only Latine people, but people of color beyond the tokens that are included in the curriculum, forced by the rise of exceptional liberalism in education? I’ll wait. My goal is to focus on historical research in addressing the misrepresentations of “low art” (sometimes lovingly called, “folk art” by well-meaning white people) and realigning the theatrical narrative to refocus on a transcultural Theatre. This, in turn, should inform creators and practitioners to create more meaningful, historically accurate content that speaks to more than just wealthy white folk.