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America Play


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A: Suzan-Lori Parks Pf: 1993, Dallas (workshop production); 1994, New York Pb: 1995 G: Hist. drama in 2 acts S: USA, 19th and 20th c. C: 3m, 2f, extrasIn ‘a great hole’, a kind of theme park which is ‘an exact replica of the Great Hole of History’, the Founding Father, as Abraham Lincoln, delivers a long monologue. He tells of the Great Man (Lincoln) and the Lesser Known, a digger, who years after Lincoln's death makes money by displaying his remarkable likeness to the President. He re-enacts Lincoln's assassination by John Wilkes Booth by recreating the scene in Ford's Theatre, sitting in a rocking chair, and inviting the public to choose a pistol to shoot him with. Lucy, a widow, and her son Brazil, a digger (son of the Lesser Known?) listen to the echoes of the gunshot. Brazil's father dug the Great Hole of History, where he and Lucy saw American history re-enacted. Brief extracts are performed from Our American Cousin, the play Lincoln was watching when he was assassinated. In the Hall of Wonders Lucy and Brazil exhibit relics of America's past. Lincoln is shot again, and the nation mourns.

A: Suzan-Lori Parks Pf: 1993, Dallas (workshop production); 1994, New York Pb: 1995 G: Hist. drama in 2 acts S: USA, 19th and 20th c. C: 3m, 2f, extras

This young African-American playwright is often compared to Gertrude Stein and Adrienne Kennedy for her imaginative use of the theatre and for her language, with its quotations, repetitions, and ambiguities (what Parks has called ‘rep’ and ‘rev’, repetition and revision). The America Play interestingly does not make much of Abraham Lincoln's role in abolishing slavery. This is taken as read, but the repeated re-enactment of his assassination, with the role being played by a black actor, creates an image of oppression for which the nation must continue to mourn.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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