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'This article considers how Canadian and Australian multicultural theatre explores notions of individual identity in conjunction with issues of national and cultural identity. I use two plays as test studies - Sunil Kuruvilla's Rice Boy (2000) from Canada and Noelle Janaczewska's "Cold Harvest" (1998) from Australia - to analyse the dramaturgical and theatrical techniques employed to undermine prescriptive identity roles that have developed in both postcolonial nations.
The complex nature of cultural identity in these two multicultural nations is brought to the fore and identity is shown theatrically to be an intricate process, as opposed to the simplified, pre-existing subject positions, which I term the "imaginary citizenry".
The plays illustrate two strategies for challenging the imaginary citizen roles. The first mode is dramaturgical: the characters construct their own identities in a narratie mode. Employing Paul Ricoeur's concept of identity as a narrative process, the characters can be read as possessing the agency to tell, and re- tell, the stories of their lives in an effort to determine a workable sense of self. This, in turn, enables the second, theatrical mode through which identity is shown to be a constructive process: split subjectivity.
Through the process of self-narration the characters' personas are split and they shift they become versions of themselves at different ages, embody other characters altogether, or even perform a kind of self-doubling, in which they both act and observe themselves in certain situations. These fluid shifts in time, space and character allow the audience to witness a physical manifestation of the self-narration that enables the characters' self-understanding. Together, with both the dramaturgical and theatrical strategies in mind, these plays provide opportunities to broaden understandings about cultural, national and individual identity; they provide a forum through which to consider rethinking the ways in which official multiculturalism actually operates in Australia and Canada.' Tricia Hopton.

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Last amended 26 Sep 2012 15:20:41
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