Booth, Willard C. "Dramatic Aspects of Aztec Rituals." JSTOR. The Johns Hopkins University Press, n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2012.
This article is about Aztec rituals, how they were performed and what they meant. It talks of their war god, Huitzilopochtli and how he made prophecies, especially one that said they would conquer the world. That's the only reason why they moved from North America to lake Texcoco in Mexico.
In the part about the dramatic aspects, it says that the most common form of Aztec drama was a mixture of song, dance, music, and recital. They were very formal, and they even each had a part with a ritual of acting or dancing with masks. Clowns were also a part of the feasts. Their ceremonies happened often and they were long, extensive and detailed. Every month there were one or two separate ceremonies and the people that performed them went through "long and careful training." (427) Dance was also a form of performance and it had many representations that required specialists actors. They involved the audience in their performances and dialogue, which was sometimes spontaneous. The main point for all of their rituals, from the simplest to the most complex, was "an attempt to prevent disaster or to influence the environment favorably through ceremony." (428)
In a way, the dramatic parts of the Aztec race were all performed in their ceremonies. The reason the Aztec people did not have drama as people think of it today is because all of their efforts were going into performing their rituals to appease the gods. They physically just didn't have the time or will power to make more theatre outside of their ceremonies.
Carrasco, David. City of Sacrifice: The Aztec Empire and the Role of Violence in Civilization. Boston: Beacon, 1999. Print.
This book looks at the ritual of sacrifice in the Aztec culture and analyses it as "a major motivating social force and whether it is a central religious performance in the construction of social order and the authority of city states." (p.3)
The author also puts a lot of emphasis on the performance aspect of these rituals and clarifies that although the killing of people was the central action, the performance itself was meticulously elaborate. "According to the description of these sacrifices, much more effort was put into dancing, singing, moving in procession, and changing costumes than into the actual act of killing people. The act of ritual death, while centrally important, was not all that these ceremonies were about." (p.7)
Gibson, Charles. The Aztecs under Spanish Rule. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Pr., 1964. Print.
"This book examines the history of Aztec civilization following the defeat and the changes that took place in Indian life during the succeeding three centuries of subjugation to the power of the Spanish crown." (p.1)
Overall the book describes the geography, religion, politics, and labor of the Aztecs after the arrival of the Spanish. There is not much written on the actual conquest, however, there is much more information on its consequence: Spanish domination vs. Indian subjugation.
Some of the happenings were the Cacicazgo (rule by a cacique), the missionary church (conversion to Catholicism), and the encomienda (A grant by the Spanish Crown to a colonist conferring the right to demand tribute and labor from the Indians).
The biggest changes in power involved tribute, labor, and land. "Tribute and labor were periodically adjusted to population changes and the extreme Spanish requirements were confined to the earliest times. With Indian depopulation land became accessible, and when it became accessible, it was usurped. The hacienda controlled land with secondary controls over labor and tribute, and the result was the most comprehensive institution yet devised for Spanish mastery and Indian subordination"(405-407).
An interesting fact in regard to performance:
Indian peoples were divided by migrating tribes. Not much from their original narratives has survived due to oral passing, translations, stylization, and other distortions.
Henty, G. A. I Love Not the Spaniards, The Conference, Good Advice, Roger's Reflections, It Is Best so by Far. By Right of Conquest: Or with Cortez in Mexico. Mill Hall, PA: Preston/Speed Publications, 1996. 21+. Print.
This book was similar to a diary and written record of the adventures of from the point of view of the English on the Spaniards and the contact they had with the Indigenous peoples. They bartered, traded and exchanged goods in order to resupply there fleet's and unintentionally created better health for everyone on board. I focused on two areas so far, Spanish treatment of Indigenous population in Central America and the perception of value with correlation between the English, Spanish and the Indigenous people. The Spanish were cruel to the Indigenous people while the English found this behavior uncivilized. The Indigenous have rituals and sacrifice many people throughout the year to their gods. This was done by showering them with riches then killing them in order to be bountiful and prosperous within the tribe.
Throughout the book there was information that applied to the value of items. For example, there was a plethora of gold so this was of no value unlike beads or iron to make weapons and jewelry. Their over abundance with food made it easier to trade with the English and Spanish for their goods from across the sea.
Huerta, Jorge A. Chicano Drama: Performance, Society, and Myth. Cambridge [England: Cambridge UP, 2000. Print.
The author of this book, Jorge Huerta, is one of the foremost figures in the development modern day Chicano theatre. He is a Chicano theatre historiographer who throughout his career has worked very closely with Luis Valdez and Teatro Campesino as an actor, director, advisor and close friend. This book is a wealth of information, essentially outlining the progression of Chicano theatre up to the tear two thousand. If anything this book was helpful because of the definitions of the term "Chicano" that he provides; people of ethnically Mestizo origin spread throughout the United States, who are simultaneously being assimilate and rejected by both Mexican and Anglo-American culture. He gives some background information on the formation of theatre troops composed of migrant farmworkers in California and then transitions to his offering of Luis Valdez' nine-teen seventy-nine play Zoot Suit as the inciting event that brought Chicano theater to the mainstream. This was all very useful information to us, but could be found in other places. But, more directly for our purposes, Huerta's first chapter provides a clear through-line from the Ancient Aztecs, to the Colonial Era, to now. In this chapter, he starts witht the fact that the ancient Aztecs were deeply rooted in their mythology and all ritualistic activity they did was in relation to it. Then when the Spanish arrived in 1521, the Aztecs were violently forced into western, Christian traditions. And so, even to this day Chicanos are left with a sense of in-betweenness in that practices reminiscent of their ancient culture still exist but have been oppressed. Huerta claims that in many of his plays, Luis Valdez is attempting to, in a sense rewrite mythology for modern day Chicanos.
Valdez, Luis. A Chicano Approach to the Theater of Reality. N.p.: El Centro Campesino Cultural, 1973. Print.
This is a long poem that deals with issues of Colonization and Chicano identity. It focuses on the importance of religion for Chicanos and encourages the Chicano to liberate itself by loving its culture and playing its designated part in the "theatre of the world". At the same time it sends a message of love for one's own being and for every other human regardless of race, language, or general identity.
The poem is written frequently mixing words in Spanish and English, for example on page 2 it says the following"
"We were conquistados
and we (de la raza de bronce)
began to think we were EUROPEOS
and that their vision of reality
Valdez, Luis. Actos. Fresno, California: Cucracha, 1971. Print.
This is a primary source that was written by Luis Valdez himself. In it he explained what Actos are and what they mean to the Campesinos. The majority of the books is examples of actos that they had performed. I read one entitled "Las Dos Caras del Patroncito" which translates to "the two faces of the boss". It's a good example of the parody that their actos were known for. In it, the boss is visiting one of him farm workers and they have a conversation where he tells him how good he has it. He gets to ride in a truck and listen to nature; it's like he is always camping, like a never-ending vacation. The patroncito ends up making the farmworker switch jobs with him as a joke and urges him to pretend like he's the boss and tell the real patroncito what to do. The farmworker gets so into it he really thinks he is the boss and makes his dumb body guard beat up the real boss, as the body guard doesn't know any better.
In the performance, the characters would wear signs around their necks saying who they were and in this play the farmworker and the boss switch signs and then everybody is supposedly fooled into thinking that they are who they say they are based on the character name written on their sign. It's very ridiculous and satiric.
Valdez, Luis, and Stan Steiner. Aztlan: An Anthology of Mexican American Literature. New York: Knopf, 1972. Print.
In this book I found a lot of historical background on El Teatro Campesino. It talks about how it formed in 1965 and what it was in the early stages. It says that Teatro Campesino is mostly about comedy, that comedy is better than dramatic or realistic forms of theatre because it's healthier and it's necessary. It formed from necessity to boost the striking Chicano farm workers. They had a lot of stereotypical characters: bad guys/ the bosses, good guys/ the strikers, etc. Also the Teatro Campesino was started by Luis Valdez trying to explain what theatre is to a group of the workers. They had never seen a play and so everything they acted out was a parody of their experiences in their lives.
The book also talks about the Aztecs and what their form of drama was. Their rituals were the most sacred and dramatic. The biggest and most sacred sacrifice was when a man was offered to the Sun God, Huitzilopochtli. In a way they resembled the gladiator form of entertainment from the Roman times. They had men fight to the death before their bodies were sacrificed. The only set they had was a stone block that they could use but nothing else for "nature took care of the rest".
Ybarra, Patricia A. Performing Conquest: Five Centuries of Theater, History, and Identity in Tlaxcala,Mexico. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 2009. Print.
Performing Conquest examines the way that non-traditional modes of performance like political speech have been noticeably linked to the creation of Mexican identity. The book focuses on theatrical performances, political events, and texts that perform, despite themselves, and are designed to create a national Mexican identity. The theatrical strategies used to create meaning in political speech blur the line between representation of culture and reality of culture, turning everyday citizens into "actors" while making the white conquerors the spectators able to pass judgment. Performing Conquest shows that these strategies are/were deeply embedded in cultural practices, learned from and developed within religious/political ceremonies like baptism and dance rituals since early conquest of Hernan Cortez in the 1500's. Patricia Ybarra's research shows "performance is an epistemology of conquest" (60) Ybarra's introduction is an analysis of an extremely staged 1997 state visit to Tlaxcala by Bill and Hillary Clinton, where Tlaxcala City's public ceremony frames the Clintons as performing conquest in the present. The political gestures Clinton participates in, such as the exchanging of gifts and a presentation of performance Los Concheros by some of Tlaxcala's students are eerily similar to the political gestures upheld by Cortes and Montezuma when the Spaniards first came to Mexico before they conquered the Aztecs. This suggests that we are still "performing conquest" in the modern day and it is not that different from the ways in which the Spaniards did it back in the 1500's. We are (the US) still stepping into political roles and performing whiteness against the role of indigenous people through the analysis of modern performance like political speech as mentioned before. Through this lens we begin to see that Bill Clinton and Hernan Cortes are not all that different in the way that they perform conquest and shape the indigenous Mexican identity to their benefit.
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