Critical Context

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

JoAnne Akalaitis often combines in her work broad historical elements with highly personal experience, tragic events with absurdities, lofty concepts with homely sayings. In Green Card, she incorporates much of what she used in earlier work with Mabou Mines, the collaborative theater group with whom she formed her reputation as an avant-garde multimedia playwright. Her concern with social issues appears in Dead End Kids: A History of Nuclear Power (pr. 1980, pb. 1982), a play about nuclear power and weapons. Earlier works show less direct concern with contemporary issues. Dressed Like an Egg (pr. 1977, pb. 1984) is more obscure in its themes and topic, with information based loosely on the life of Colette and scenes dealing in some fashion with male and female relationships. Southern Exposure (pr. 1979), while more clearly dealing with an identifiable historical event, the first exploration of the Antarctic, is still similar to Green Card in its unconventional techniques and juxtaposition of dramatic elements.

Despite her desire to have her works experienced directly and spontaneously, much of Akalaitis’s writing profits from close inspection. She researches her material quite thoroughly, and a number of references and quotations from other sources may be missed in a cursory viewing. This is as true of her earlier works as it is of Green Card, but Green Card may appear to be more accessible simply because...

(The entire section is 605 words.)