Global Theme, Local Form: Testimony, Storytelling, and Thailand: What's Love Got to Do with It?

DOI: https://dx.doi.org/

Abstract

This essay is a reflection on the play, Thailand! What’s Love Got To Do With It?, by Máirtín de Cógáin and Brian Desmond, first produced in Cork, Ireland, in 2007. Thailand is both documentary play and metaphor: documentary in that it dramatizes an analysis of perspectives expressed by Irish sex tourists, and metaphor in the way that this analysis reflects the hysterical electioneering (from both government and media) during the 2007 Irish general election which saw Fianna Fáil’s Celtic Tiger government elected for a third term. A reflection on practice, this essay uses postcolonial and narrative theory to discuss Thailand as an act of performance which deploys the latitudes of epic storytelling to interrogate Irish attitudes to citizenship, both national and global. It discusses ways in which Thailand interrogates Celtic Tiger Ireland’s expedient self-narratives, including those of wealth as moral currency, the disposable foreign “other,” and the anti-dialectical narratives of the Irish government (and its media allies). First produced in 2007, shortly before the Irish economy went into freefall, Thailand documents an affluent Ireland’s critical disengagement with the contradictions of prosperity or, after Jerome Bruner, its apparent inability to narrate “itself” as “other.” This essay considers how Thailand’s dramaturgy exposes some of these contradictions and, through epic storytelling, both performs and exposes an apparatus of global domination.

Keywords

storytelling, seanchaí, sex tourism, epic theatre, citizenship, folk narrative

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Professor
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faruk
Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)