Sang Kim ‘s A Dream Called Laundry and Tomson Highway ‘s The Rez Sisters portion a common subject in the manner they question and complicate the spiritualty of their characters. Each drama centres around nominally Christian characters who owe their Christian religion to a bequest of colonialism-British colonisation of Canada in the instance of The Rez Sisters and general European missional work in East Asia in the instance of A Dream Called Laundry. Both plays, nevertheless, turn to how this imposed Christian individuality has affected these characters, and they delve into the interplay between the witting spiritualty and lingering autochthonal faith. The consequence in both instances is a unusual and fantastic syncretism that plays out on the phase, a Dionysian spiritualty where the theater itself becomes the sacred infinite. In this essay, I will research spiritualty as presented in these two dramas, comparing and contrasting how this subject is presented with respects to syncretism and the spiritualty of the theater.
Sisters Soo and Grace are both self-identified Christians in A Dream Called Laundry although both were born in Korea during the period of Nipponese business. Of the three adult females that make up the nucleus dramatis personae of this drama, it is merely Soo ‘s girl Sally that self-identifies as non-Christian-she appears to be unbelieving or agnostic-which is interesting as she is otherwise the most ‘Westernized ‘ of the three. Decorate tends to be more overtly Christian in her preoccupations and duologue than Soo is, but both adult females take their religion earnestly. Even Sally ‘s evident deficiency of religion makes sense within her Westernized surroundings ; she represents in her manner the secularized, rationalist Western civilization that has superseded Christianity in much of the Western universe. Both Soo and Grace, nevertheless, show a more complicated spiritualty that typical attachment to the Christian religion and have each brought something profoundly personal to their religious lives.
Grace ‘s spiritualty, for illustration, is to a great extent influenced by her equivocal mental status and, so, her ‘madness ‘ for deficiency of a better word constructs her Christianity such that it has more in common with the enraptured traditions of Orphism than mainstream Christianity tends to acknowledge. This spiritualty is possibly best demonstrated in Grace ‘s soliloquy that begins with her viing in an fanciful spelling bee. Having been given the word, ‘mysophobia’-defined therein as “ the fright of being contaminated by soil ” ( Kim, 31 ) -she expounds on her doctrine. Grace ‘s Christianity is ab initio mysophobic in nature, demonstrated by the belief that the faith can be used to sublimate oneself from ‘contamination by soil ‘ . Grace lists possible contaminations: “ Wash pails. Outhouses. Vomit with balls of bacon in it. Masturbation. Menstruation. Dried seeds. Crusted underwear ” ( Kim, 32 ) ; which, as can be seen, go progressively sexualized as the list continues. The redress to this sexual taint is seen as Christian baptism, a religious rinsing off of the crud. This can be seen in a ulterior exchange between Soo and Grace:
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SOO: Dirty head. That ‘s all you think. Sexual activity. That ‘s why no good adult male want you at church. You be entirely everlastingly.
GRACE: I ‘ll be pure after I ‘m baptized. Person will desire me so. ( Kim, 83 )
Christianity, so, is seen as a ritual purification against crud, particularly in the instance of sexual taint. This position of the faith will bind in thematically with the flood tide of the drama, but it does non to the full represent Grace ‘s spiritualty.
Grace besides brings an enraptured component to her spiritualty, one that is implied to be due to her mental status but that can be found in ancestors to Christianity such as the Orphic tradition. See this transition, where she explains her principle for acquiring baptized:
GRACE: aˆ¦ Why am I acquiring baptized? Is n’t it obvious? To rinse away the wickednesss so that my psyche can be saved. Sins ca n’t be washed off with soap the manner soiled wash can. Merely blood from the Lamb of God can make that. ( Kim, 33 )
Here the purification facets of baptism are denied in favor of the ritualistic. Soap and H2O can non sublimate the taint, merely blood forfeit, martyrdom and enraptured imagination can make so. And blood in this sense is a repeating image throughout the drama, from menses blood meaning sexual martyrdom in the ‘comfort cantonment ‘ ( Kim, 22 ) to blood as index of national individuality. Soo makes a relevant remark on blood, stating Sally that “ Japs ever be same. Inside blood. Not pure ” ( Kim, 30 ) . This contrasts with the flashback where Hiro and Soo have the undermentioned exchange:
HIRO: I care about who you are on the interior. Your psyche. And a psyche does n’t hold a nationality.
SOO: My psyche is Korean. Yours is Nipponese. They ‘re different.
HIRO: We are all the same under the tegument. ( Kim, 47-8 )
Soo argues that ‘souls ‘ or ‘blood ‘ , the cardinal inside substance, are non the same, that different people are contaminated while others are pure. While this is clearly a chauvinistic, racist construct, it has its footing in this enraptured Christian worldview, where the blood forfeit of the sufferer is the true beginning of purification and one either has it or does non.
Much of the drama, so, embodies this enraptured, Dionysian construct of martyrdom and metempsychosis. Structurally and thematically, there is a strong connexion between this work and Grecian calamity. The chorus of Masked Figures continually chant a mantra of taint throughout Soo ‘s martyrdom. The flashback construction creates a kind of fugue feel to the drama that is all of a sudden literalized in the concluding reveal, where it becomes clear that Sally and Dennis are metaphysically re-enacting their parents ‘ relationship with a quasi-incestuous turn that seems like something right out of Grecian calamity ( Kim, 116-7 ) . The universe is revealed in this turn to non be a simple topographic point of purification rites but a topographic point contaminated by soil, where the damned live out their martyrdoms once more and once more, go throughing their taint on to the following coevals. Grace sums this up neatly with her contemplations on the nature of Hell:
GRACE: Maybe it ‘s all in our caputs and non someplace out at that place like the manner Heaven isaˆ¦ Or possibly Hell does n’t be at all until the minute you do something awful. Like when you murder person or take the Lord ‘s name in vain-aˆ¦ Or wish bad things to go on to othersaˆ¦ Possibly this is Hell – where we are now – and that we create a worse topographic point out at that place to do usage experience better about ourselves. Like watching those hungering black babes on Television with flies in their eyes. ( Kim, 37-8 )
This self-manifested snake pit of ageless return seems to break represent the existence of A Dream Called Laundry than does the naA?ve baptismal Christianity that Grace and Soo apparently adhere to.
Tomson Highway ‘s The Rez Sisters has a similar attack to spiritualty in that it takes a figure of outward Christian reserve adult females and exposes an enraptured, pre-Christian nucleus at the bosom of their beliefs. The Rez Sisters is, nevertheless, more expressly satirical in its attack to this in that the minutia of reserve life itself takes on this profound spiritualism. The looking decision of this drama is that the old ways ne’er die but simply change the linguistic communication of belief to suit alteration. A existent universe analogy can be seen in the syncretistic beliefs of certain Andean peoples that have maintained traditional belief under the veneer of devotedness to Catholic saints.
The reserve of The Rez Sisters is depicted as one where traditional patterns and linguistic communication have about been wholly superseded by Western civilization. Pelajia describes the state of affairs as follows:
PELAJIA: And the old narratives, the old linguistic communication. Almost all goneaˆ¦ was a clip Nanabush and Windigo and everyone here could rattle away in Indian fast as Bingo Betty could put her lotto french friess down on a hot dark. ( Highway, 5 ) aˆ¦
PELAJIA: Everyone here ‘s brainsick. No occupations. Nothing to make purchase imbibe and sleep together each other ‘s married womans and hubbies and bury about our Nanabush. ( Highway, 6 )
Autochthonal linguistic communication has been lost, as has the traditional mythology and spiritualty. In its topographic point, the economic world of their community has fostered a religious idling that is expressed chiefly through imbibing, extra-marital personal businesss and, comically, lotto. Indeed, lotto in The Rez Sisters takes on a expansive spiritual significance with its ain fables and Gods that serve as a satirical replacing for the old ways. Bingo Betty, for illustration, is a legendary lotto participant who one time played 27 cards in one posing and allegedly accrued huge wealth.
Still though, lingering at the peripheral of the first act of the drama is the traditional spirit Nanabush, reduced to looking to his followings in the pretense of a sea gull and having maltreatment from them. Marie-Adele confronts the bird, teasing it in Ojibwe as follows ( taken from provided interlingual rendition ) :
MARIE-ADELE: Travel off! You stinking thing. Do n’t coming messing about here for nil. Travel off! Neee. Who the snake pit do you believe you are, the Holy Spirit? Travel off! Hey, but he wo n’t wing off, this seagull bird. He merely sits at that place. And tickers me. Watch me. ( Highway, 19 )
This scene is an interesting counterpoint to Pelajia earlier averments about the reserve. Marie-Adele clearly does non accept the old narratives since she fails to acknowledge Nanabush as anything more than a bird. Yet she speaks to Nanabush in the old linguistic communication, demoing that the traditions are non entirely disregarded. Her usage of the Christian term ‘Holy Spirit ‘ to depict this non-Christian spirit creates a spread in intending that will go cardinal to spiritualty in the drama.
The secret plan of the drama centres around a group of adult females from the reserve going to Toronto to vie in ‘the Biggest Bingo in the World ‘ , an event that plays out like a pilgrim’s journey to the new order. The Biggest Bingo represents a Utopian vision of a perfect universe. It represents both a financial Eden with its $ 500 000 expansive award ( Highway, 54 ) but, as the adult females become more beguiled, it becomes the agencies to the perfect life in every respect. Victory in the Biggest Bingo is tantamount to paradise on Earth in the heads of the reserve adult females. One of the adult females even enthuses that “ all the Indians in the universe will be at that place [ at Biggest Bingo ] ! ” ( Highway, 69 ) , farther cementing this even as a kind of Mecca to this reserve faith.
Biggest Bingo itself is depicted with a showmanship reminiscent of a resurgence or evangelical service. It is presided over by a magnetic Bingo Master, who is priest and prophesier of this unusual faith, and is described as “ the most beautiful adult male in the universe – [ who ] comes running up the Centre aisle, cordless microphone in manus, dressed to kill: dress suits, rhinestones, and all. The full theater is now the lotto castle. We are in: Toronto! ! ! ! ” ( Highway, 100 ) in the phase waies. The Bingo Master sells the event as if it has deep religious significance for the participants, as he says:
BINGO MASTER: Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, you will be witness to events of such elephantine proportions, such cataclysmal branchings, such masterly and brilliant manifestations that your heads will stagger, your eyes will nicitate, and your Black Marias will palpitate unpredictably. ( ibid. )
In these footings, the lotto game has a cosmic significance, good beyond that of a typical game. It represents a possible Eden on Earth, though it is one based in the entropy of the game. The nature of this Eden, this pot of money, is so that merely one individual can win it while every other contestant will needfully lose. Earlier in the drama, all the adult females engaged in a cacophonic unit of ammunition of covering duologue where they insulted one another in every possible mode ( Highway, 44-6 ) . The Biggest Bingo is a repeat of that in religious linguistic communication ; this satirical Western secular pseudo-religion overpowers the old ways by spliting the people against themselves as happens in a competitory game.
The transmutation of the game into an reverberation of Christianity is complete at the flood tide of Biggest Bingo. The phase is ceremonially transformed in the undermentioned phase way into a distorted mirror of Christian religion:
The house visible radiations go out. And the lone visible radiations now are the lotto balls resiling about in the lotto machine – an eery, phantasmagoric kind of glow – lotto with a retribution on centerstage, behind the Bingo Master, where a long lotto tabular array has as if by magic appeared with Zhaboonigan at the tabular array ‘s centre slaming a rood Veronique has brought along for good fortune. The scene is lit so that it looks like ‘The Last Supper. ‘ ( Highway, 102 )
Christian and Bingo iconography become one in this absurd tableaux but there is a 3rd angle to this imagination when it is revealed that the Bingo Master is Nanabush himself. Nanabush becomes a figure of Death and takes Marie-Adele to the hereafter stand foring a concluding victory of the traditional ways over both the Christian tradition and the satirical Bingo invention. The concluding message is that there is a permanency underneath the games of opportunity that make up life, and that things stay the same even when they undergo superficial alterations.
Both The Rez Sisters and A Dream Called Laundry demonstrate syncretistic spiritualties as people ‘s beliefs adapt to outside influence yet still retain the deeply personal, alone elements that define these characters. In the instance of A Dream Called Laundry, this took the signifier of a mixture of Christian, Korean and theatrical traditions and in The Rez Sisters, it was represented through a synthesis of Christianity, traditional Native beliefs and the representation of Western civilization in the signifier of Bingo. Befiting the Canadian tradition, these spiritualties are alone concepts of pluralist elements.