Performing Race and Torture on the Early Modern Stage
Routledge, 2008 - 174
Performing Race and Torture on the Early Modern Stage provides the first sustained reading of Restoration plays through a performance theory lens. This approach shows that an analysis of the conjoined performances of torture and race not only reveals the early modern interest in the nature of racial identity, but also how race was initially coded in a paradoxical fashion as both essentially fixed and socially constructed. An examination of scenes of torture provides the most effective way to unearth these seemingly contradictory representations of race because depictions of torture often interrogate the incongruous desire to substitute the visible and manipulable materiality of the body for the more illusive performative nature of identity. In turn, Performing Race and Torture on the Early Modern Stage challenges the long-standing assumption that early modern conceptions of race were radically different in their fluidity from post-Enlightenment ones by demonstrating how many of the debates we continue to have about the nature of racial identity were engendered by these seventeenth-century performances.
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For example , Nicholas Burt performed as Vasquez in The Indian Emperour and Perez in Amboyna , and both roles seem to indicate a willingness to betray Christian ethics : Vasquez , of course , commits atrocities in The Indian Emperour ...
to erase and reassign the racial politics inherent in the events at Amboyna . The depiction of the onstage torture of English merchants at Dutch hands both creates and reveals these anxieties about race . In Amboyna all of the potential ...
In other words , the problems with Amboyna do not stem from the generic expectations of making heroic mercantilist events ; rather , the problems stem from the attempt to stage and perform events which were originally narrated with ...
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