Jessica Hagedorn Drama Analysis
Jessica Hagedorn’s entire body of work focuses on Filipino Americans’ struggle to discover a place in a new culture without having to relinquish every element of the home culture. In her plays—as in her novels, essays, and poetry—Hagedorn explores a number of significant issues, among them the search for or formation of identity, the clash of cultures, and the problems inherent in an immigrant’s attempts to fit into a new community. Although she is much better known as a novelist than as a dramatist, she has produced an interesting body of mixed-media and multimedia work for the stage, pieces that are closer to performance art than to the traditional play format.
Hagedorn’s work defies simple categorization, instead straddling the boundaries between high and low culture, and crossing between and among genres. In theater circles and to theatergoing audiences, Hagedorn is best known in as a performance artist, and her plays are infused with distinctively performative elements drawn from music, dance, poetry slams, storytelling, and role playing. Except for the themes on which Hagedorn focuses—themes that surface in many American plays—her work has little in common with conventional American drama, even with contemporary ethnic drama. Instead, her pieces belong with the work of theater artists and innovators such as Karen Finley, John Leguizamo, Ping Chong, and Ntozake Shange.
A multimedia theater...
(The entire section is 2351 words.)
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