Holy Terrors

Latin American Women Perform

Holy Terrors

Book Pages: 464 Illustrations: 58 b&w photos, 19 figures Published: December 2003

Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Latin American Studies, Theater and Performance > Performance Art

Holy Terrors presents exemplary original work by fourteen of Latin America’s foremost contemporary women theatre and performance artists. Many of the pieces—including one-act plays, manifestos, and lyrics—appear in English for the first time. From Griselda Gambaro, Argentina's most widely recognized playwright, to such renowned performers as Brazil's Denise Stoklos and Mexico’s Jesusa Rodríguez, these women are involved in some of Latin America's most important aesthetic and political movements. Of varied racial and ethnic backgrounds, they come from across Latin America—Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Peru, and Cuba. This volume is generously illustrated with over seventy images. A number of the performance pieces are complemented by essays providing context and analysis.

The performance pieces in Holy Terrors are powerful testimonies to the artists' political and personal struggles. These women confront patriarchy, racism, and repressive government regimes and challenge brutality and corruption through a variety of artistic genres. Several have formed theatre collectives—among them FOMMA (a Mayan women’s theatre company in Chiapas) and El Teatro de la máscara in Colombia. Some draw from cabaret and ‘frivolous’ theatre traditions to create intense and humorous performances that challenge church and state. Engaging in self-mutilation and abandoning traditional dress, others use their bodies as the platforms on which to stage their defiant critiques of injustice. Holy Terrors is a unique English-language presentation of some of Latin America's fiercest, most provocative art.

Sabina Berman
Tania Bruguera
Petrona de la Cruz Cruz
Diamela Eltit
Griselda Gambaro
Astrid Hadad
Teresa Hernández
Rosa Luisa Márquez
Teresa Ralli
Diana Raznovich
Jesusa Rodríguez
Denise Stoklos
Katia Tirado
Ema Villanueva


Holy Terrors . . . reaches beyond the major metropoles where many of its artists work, into various political squabbles throughout the hemisphere. . . . [I]nnovative scholarship. Its emergence marks just how much the landscape of Latin American theater and performance has changed over the past ten years and signals how much it could change in the next ten.” — Patricia Ybarra, Theater

“[A]n imaginary Latin America that might otherwise go unnoticed outside of the region has been made available for the first time to English-speaking readers. . . . A key accomplishment of this collection is its capacity to bring together, within the utopian space of the printed page, women from different social, ethnic, and class backgrounds, giving voice to their experience as it emerges in the most contrasting settings. . . . As an ultimate political act, the editors of Holy Terrors have sought to bridge the gap between artist and critic, thus positioning the artists’ work as an open field in which women circulate, not only as commodities, but also as agents of change.” — Rita De Grandis, Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

“[T]he book signals new departures in the field of theatrical and performance criticism. . . .” — Beatriz J. Rizk, Latin American Research Review

“For anyone interested in theatre and performance art—and most particularly in women’s theatre—in Latin America, this will be a fascinating collection.” — British Bulletin of Publications on Latin America

“For the reader who wants a broad overview of women performing in Latin America, Holy Terrors provides a sampling of some of Latin America’s most important playwrights and performers, as well as some new voices.” — Alexandra Fitts, Bulletin of Spanish Studies

"[A] crazy quilt account of women performing theater in Latin America. . . . Holy Terrors is a work rich in ideas, history and personalities, and an important source book for learning, not only about theater in these eight Latin American countries, but also about key political issues, the risks of free expression, and the health and nearly unchartable diversity of the women's movement." — Martha Gies, Women's Review of Books

“The editors have done a remarkable job in assembling an important group of women playwrights and performers whose work remains terribly under publicized. The work included in this volume provides an excellent introduction to the diverse ways Latin American women have used the performing arts to engage the particular political and cultural conditions under which they live.” — David Román, author of Acts of Intervention: Performance, Gay Culture, and AIDS

“We can’t have theater if we have nothing to say. I was told that we wouldn’t have Coltrane if Miles Davis hadn’t let him play at his own gig, and that Miles let him play a long time, because he could see that Coltrane had a lot to say. Traveling with Diana, which I have had the great fortune to do, and being introduced to these extraordinary performers, both on these pages, and live and in person was flat-out a life-altering experience. This book turns us on to our cousin Americans and to their passion, their skill, their intellect, their purpose, their resolve. To go to music again, I think of Thelonius Monk, who said, ‘The cats I like are the cats who take chances.’  These are chancing cats, and enrapturing ones.” — Anna Deavere Smith


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Diana Taylor is Professor of Performance Studies and Spanish and Director of the Hemispheric Institute on Performance and Politics at New York University. Among her books are The Archive and the Repertoire: Cultural Memory and Performance in the Americas, Disappearing Acts: Spectacles of Gender and Nationalism in Argentina’s “Dirty War,” and Negotiating Performance: Gender, Sexuality, and Theatricality in Latin/o America, all published by Duke University Press. Roselyn Costantino is Associate Professor of Spanish and Women’s Studies at Pennsylvania State University.

Roselyn Costantino is Associate Professor of Spanish and Women’s Studies at Pennsylvania State University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Illustrations ix

Preface xiii

Unimagined Communities / Diana Taylor and Roselyn Costantino 1

Diana Raznovich (Argentina) 25

Manifesto 2000 of Feminine Humor / Translated by Marlene Ramirez-Cancio and Shanna Lorenz 27

From the Waist Down / Translated by Shanna Lorenz 43

What is Diana Raznovich Laughing At? / Diana Taylor 73

Griselda Gambaro (Argentina) 93

Strip / Translated by Marguerite Feitlowitz 95

Diamela Eltit (Chile) 105

Excerpts from Lumperica (E. Luminata): "From Her Forgetfulness Project" and "Dress Rehearsal" / Translated by Ronald Christ 107

Diamela Eltit: Performing Action in Dictatorial Chile/ Robert Neustadt 117

Denise Stoklos (Brazil) 135

Selections from Writings on Essential Theatre/ Translated by Diana Taylor 137

Casa / Translated by Denise Stoklos and Diana Taylor 140

The Gestural Art of Reclaiming Utopia: Denise Stoklos at Play with the Hysterical-Historical / Leslie Damasceno 152

Astrid Hadad (Mexico) 179

Selected Lyrics and Monologue Fragments / Translated by Roselyn Costantino and Lorna Scott 181

Politics and Culture in a Diva's Diversion: The Body of Astrid Hadad in Performance / Roselyn Costantino 187

Jesusa Rodriguez (Mexico) 209

Sor Juana in Prison: A Virtual Pageant Play / Translated by Diana Taylor with Marlene Ramirez-Cancio 211

Nahuatlismo: The Aztec Acting Method / Translated by Marlene Ramirez-Cancio 227

The Conquest According to La Malinche / Translated by Marlene Ramirez-Cancio 231

Excerpts from "Genesis," "Barbie: The Revenge of the Devil,' and "Censorship: The Bald Rat in the Garbage" / Translated by Roselyn Costantino 235

Katia Tirado and Ema Villanueva (Mexico) 245

Wrestling the Phallus, Resisting Amnesia: The Body Politics of Chilanga Performance Artists / Antonio Prieto Stambaugh 247

Sabina Berman (Mexico) 275

The Agony of Ecstasy: Four One-Act Plays on a Single Theme / Translated by Adam Versenyi 279

Petrona de la Cruz Cruz (Mexico) 291

A Desperate Woman: A Play in Two Acts / Translated by Shanna Lorenz 293

Eso si pasa aqui: Indigenous Women Performing Revoultions in Mayan Chiapas / Teresa Marrero 311

Teatro la Mascara (Colombia) 331

Teatro la mascara: Twenty-Eight Years of Invisibilized Theatre / Marlene Ramirez-Cancio 333

Teresa Ralli (Peru) 353

Fragments of Memory / Translated by Margaret Carson 355

Excerpts from Antigona / Jose Watanabe, Translated by Margaret Carson 365

Rosa Luisa Marquez (Puerto Rico) 371

Between Theatre and Performance / Translation and photos by Miguel Villefane 373

Teresa Hernandez (Puerto Rico) 385

How Complex Being Is, or The Complex of Being / Translated by Marlene Ramirez-Cancio 387

Teresa Hernandez vs. the Puerto Rican Complex / Vivian Martinez Tabares, Translated by Margaret Carson 394

Tania Bruguera (Cuba) 399

Performing Greater Cuba: Tania Bruguera and the Burden of Guilt / Jose Munoz 401

Selected Bibliography 417

Contributors 441

Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3240-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3227-5
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