AGAINST THE MENACE OF THE LOCAL CULTURE. PERFORMATIVE ASPECTS OF CULTURAL IDENTITY IN MPALERMU AND CARNEZZERIA BY EMMA DANTE
Taking into account important changes that have taken place in the last 20 years in the fields of performance studies and cultural studies (especially de- and post-colonial studies) regarding the way in which local cultures and ethnicity are represented in the theatre and interpreted in the humanities, this article revises the ways of presenting local cultures in the Italian dialect theatre of the last decade. This analysis shows how a hegemonic (at least until recently) dramatic model developed by Eduardo de Filippo and based on producing nostalgia towards an idealised past of a local culture needs to be critically reformulated, especially from the perspective of a young generation of female artists who work in the field of dialect theatre. To this end, in this article, the author analyses the performing strategies of two of Emma Dante’s plays, mPalermu and Carnezzeria, to prove that localness is not an essentially understood characteristic of a certain community, but, rather, it should be seen as a complex performative, repetitive practice that is both bodily and discursive. Conversely, the author points out that these practices should be examined in depth and seen as a kind of cultural oppression that serves as a camouflage of some deeper imprinted relationships based on violence and domination. The examples of Emma Dante’s plays from the beginning of her career allow the author to also cast a critical gaze at an issue of primordialism, raised by Arjun Appadurai and seen as a way of viewing the Other. The latter reflects a voyeuristic pleasure of the Western world, coming from the sense of dominance over allegedly underdeveloped and primitive cultures. Emma Dante’s theatre, according to the author of this article, is an example of de-colonial artistic practice, as it subversively uses the voyeuristic inclinations of the viewer to denounce the violent character of local Sicilian scripts of behaviour that, until now, had usually been leftunsaid in public debate.