Borders and Border Crossings on the 21st Century Spanish Stage: Renegotiating Identity and Belonging in Migrant Theater

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Rabke, Sarah, Spanish - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Anderson, Andrew, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia

This project explores the ways in which the border and border crossers are depicted on the contemporary Spanish stage. Drawing on scholarly ideas from a variety of disciplines, including concepts related to border studies, political geography, transnationalism, and hybridity and the third space, I analyze six theatrical works performed in Spain in the last two decades by playwrights Carla Guimarães de Andrade, Juan Diego Botto, Paco Bezerra, and Fermín Cabal and Amanda Rodríguez as well as theatrical companies Teatro sin papeles and Lucía Miranda’s Cross Border Project. The dissertation aims to expand on the scholarship of migration literature in Spain and to highlight plays that move beyond the damaging tropes, stereotypes, and trite plotlines used in many Spanish immigration plays of the 1990s. The six plays studied here illustrate an important evolution, although nonlinear, of the representation of the migrant character and the migrant stories being told onstage. They make strides away from models of necropolitical theater and toward convivial theater, both defined by Jeffrey K. Coleman, in order to reflect more accurately the current multicultural and multiracial reality of Spain and the varied experiences of migrants as they enter and make a home in their new host country. La increíble historia de la chica que llegó la última (2013), ¡Boza!: El grito que derrumba los muros (2018), Maldita cocina (2004), Un trozo invisible de este mundo (2014), El señor Ye ama los dragones (2015), and Fiesta, Fiesta, Fiesta (2017) contain migrant characters who refuse to fall neatly within binary categories, who are neither to be feared nor pitied, who are neither fully Spanish nor fully Other. The characters’ stories are complex and multifaceted and reflect more faithfully the hybrid identities of the real-life border crossers they depict. These plays, in their creation, content, structure, and performance, cross borders to navigate the in-between. In this interstitial space, the possibility arises to displace dominant and oppressive discourses, create new meaning, and negotiate identities and senses of being, becoming, and belonging. The study of these contributions to Spain’s repertoire of migration literature is invaluable because of how these artistic redefinitions of self and home can potentially reverberate out into local communities.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Spain, Madrid, Migrant, Migration, Migrant Theater, Paco Bezerra, Lucía Miranda, Carla Guimarães, Teatro sin papeles, Juan Diego Botto, Fermín Cabal, Amanda Rodríguez, Border, Bordering practices, Mediterranean Sea
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