Shadow of a Man: a Chicana/Latina Drama as Embodied Feminist Practice

Elizabeth Jacobs

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One of the most important influences on the development of Cherríe Moraga's feminist theatre was undoubtedly the work of Maria Irene Fornes, the Cuban American playwright and director. Moraga wrote the first drafts of her second play Shadow of a Man while on Fornes's residency programme at the INTAR Hispanic Playwrights-in-Residence Laboratory in New York, and later Fornes directed the premiere at the Brava-Eureka Theatre in San Francisco (1990). The play radically restages the Chicana body through an exploration of the sexual and gendered politics of the family. Much has been written on how the family has traditionally been the stronghold of Chicana/o culture, but Shadow of a Man stages one of its most powerful criticisms, revealing how the complex kinship structures often mask male violence and sexual abuse. Using archival material and a range of critical studies, in this article Elizabeth Jacobs explores Moraga's theatre as an embodied feminist practice and as a means to displace the entrenched ideology of the family. An earlier version of this article was presented at the Department of English and Creative Writing, Aberystwyth University, as part of the 2014 International Women's Day events. Elizabeth Jacobs is the author of Mexican American Literature: the Politics of Identity (Routledge, 2006). Her articles have appeared in Comparative American Studies (2012), Journal of Adaptation and Film Studies (2009), Theatres of Thought: Theatre, Performance, and Philosophy (2008), and New Theatre Quarterly (2007). She works at Aberystwyth University.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-58
Number of pages10
JournalNew Theatre Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


  • Cherríe Moraga
  • Maria Irene Fornes
  • politics of the body
  • family
  • trauma
  • sexuality
  • Catholicism


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