Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Etienne, Anne;
Wesker and his Others: a Quest for Identity in Dramatic Form
University of Marrakech, Beni Mellal, Morocco.
Invited Oral Presentation
Optional Fields

Obsession about the Other figures as a central motif in Wesker┐s work. In such plays as Blood Libel (1991) and Beorthel┐s Hill (1988), the stranger/foreigner is defined as the hostile Other until he is redeemed and Wesker condemns the community for refusing to acknowledge and embrace difference. Two themes emerge, which function as leitmotivs. First, the author identifies with this Other/stranger: Wesker feels more Jewish than English ; his political attempt through Centre 42 was avant-garde and therefore controversial ; his dramatic work evolved in experimental form, thereby alienating his audience. Second, his predicament is expressed through the dichotomy individual/society. Through his portrayal of characters as Others, or individuals different from the mass, Wesker describes the various forms of his struggle for acceptance. An outsider, he longs to belong, yet yearns to retain his unique self.

This paper aims to delineate such expressions of the tension between the poles of Other/self, difference/sameness, in plays that explore primarily the subject of identity. In Annie Wobbler (1982), the characters demand that their identifying differences be recognised. Whatever Happened to Betty Lemon (1986) declines Sartre┐s `L┐enfer, c┐est les autres┐ through Betty┐s giddy political recriminations against the oppressive groups that create minorities and feed the concept of margin. Groupie (2001, unpublished) revisits the Romantic tradition of the lonely, misunderstood artist but incorporates elements of Wesker┐s biography. Therefore, his perspective shifts from the artist as Other or as different, in order to render his own contradictions appealing. In the three plays, the dominant Other is recognised as a colonizing influence. Yet, it is contained off-stage, physically, linguistically and semantically inferior to Wesker┐s (self-)representations.

University of Marrakech