What’s on Our Nightstands—“Trans-Caribbean Scenes: Essays on Theater, Performance and Culture”

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I wrote Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes’s original title—Escenas Transcaribeñas: Ensayos sobre teatro, performance y cultura—in English because I certainly hope that a translation is in the works.

La Fountain-Stokes’s Escenas Transcaribeñas [published by Isla Negra Editores earlier this year; see previous post New Book: Escenas transcaribeñas] is an incisive yet playful compilation of critical essays, conference presentations, reviews, blog entries (Lola von Miramar), and newspaper columns and commentary, published in various sources (such as ClaridadEl Nuevo Día80grados) from 1996 to 2017. Some of the essays were originally published in English and have been translated into Spanish for this collection. These spirited and important essays center on literature and the visual and dramatic arts, including theater, performance, television, and other types of cultural production, with a strong focus on contemporary sexualities/identities in Puerto Rico, Mexico, and beyond.

As the author states in his introduction [“Acotaciones,” which may be translated as notes, annotations, or stage directions] this selection of essays present “an incomplete history of contemporary masculinities in Puerto Rico and its diaspora and the island’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) or queer culture, with excursions into other settings such as Mexico, New York, and the queer Cuban diaspora” (15). We have chosen to use the word excursions for his excursiones, because these may be read more closely as departures rather than forays or incursions, which would connote an invasive quality. Perhaps “expedition” would be an even better choice, as excursión gives us a sense of recreation and amusement that may allow readers to categorize the pieces as “light” and entertaining reading. And entertaining they are! Nevertheless, these incisive readings on the broader diaspora’s cultural production (as well as “the island’s”) may seem like diversions at times, but they present provisional departures that always return to the collection’s main raison d’être—a critical cartography of the abundant, sundry aesthetic representations of masculinities in the Puerto Rican (and the broader Caribbean and Latin American) world. One may say that it is in these detours that the collection’s intellectual energy resides. [. . .]

[This is an excerpt from a longer review by Ivette Romero.]

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