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Beating the wings of rebellion Prince, Carole Jacqueline 1994

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BEATING THE WINGS OF REBELLIONbyCarole Jacqueline PrinceB.A., York University, 1991A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of Religious Studies)We accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIASeptember 1 994© Carole Jacqueline Prince, 1994In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)__________________________Departmentof_____________________The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate 2 ibber /7 /99J,/DE-6 (2188)PRECISGod is old and senile, and a band of female rebel angels are preparing to slayhim. This is the setting for Marisol, José Rivera’s 1 992 play about the world gone mad,rebel angels packing Uzis, and the apocalypse.Anthropologist Victor Turner specialized in performative genres that exuderebellion: rebellion against God and the everyday world of structured, established life.For Turner, the staged drama of religious ritual and secular theatre is inextricably linkedto the social drama of our daily lives. Rebellion in one realm of drama, therefore, canreflect and lead to rebellion in the other.The following is an analysis of Marisol, utilizing Turner’s performance theory,most especially the ever reciprocal relationship between performance and society. Thepaper will embark on two journeys. The first is an analysis of Rivera’s text, particularlyhis ingenious depiction of a female rebel angel. The second is an exploration of thereflections and revelations of the cast and crew who performed Marisol, at the Universityof British Columbia, in March 1994.Both paths will merge to reveal Marisol as an immensely creative work, thatchallenges and enlightens its viewers and participants to the social tensions that plaguetheir daily lives.TABLE OF CONTENTSPagePRECIS . . iiTABLE OF CONTENTS iiiLIST OF FIGURESACKNOWLEDGEMENTSQUOTETHE UNVEILINGVICTOR TURNERAN ENCOUNTER WITH THE ABYSSOF RITUAL AND REBELLIONTHEATREA TIME OF MASKS AND MARVELSMARISOLA JOURNEY TO THE THRESHOLD OF POSSIBILITYSYMBOLIC INVERSIONYOU’RE TRYING TO DISLODGE MEANGEL OF THE SWORDTHE ANGELIC CHALICE SHATTERSMARISOL NIKEMARISOL FINDS HER WINGSFLUFFY WHITE ANGEL WINGSWAKING UP‘GET YOURSELF SOME POWER, MARISOL”BUT WHAT KIND OF POWER?AT THE RIM OF THE APOCALYPSEVVivii1592026364754606773828593TAG[.E OF CONTENTS, Continued:PageANGEL OF FIREANGELS IN AMERICADARKNESS VISIBLEJOURNEY’S ENDBIBLIOGRAPHY99106115119122ivlIST OF FIGURESPage1. The reciprocal relationship between social drama and stage drama 24VACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI wish to express my sincere thanks to my thesis committee — Dr. Paul Burns, Dr.Ken Stoddart, Dr. Paul Mosca, and Dr. John Barker. I am especially grateful to mysupervisor Dr. Burns for his enthusiasm, patience and insight. Most especially I wouldlike to thank him for allowing me to take a risk and choose a thesis topic that deeplyinspired me. Thank-you as well to Dr. Mosca for his careful reading and critique on thethesis with such little notice.A special thank-you to my social science team, Dr. Barker and Dr. Stoddart. ToDr. Barker for giving me the original impetus and confidence to pursue this topic, andmost especially for helping me rediscover Victor Turner. To Dr. Stoddart for his unfailingsupport and encouragement and wonderful brainstorming sessions.lam also sincerely grateful to Dr. Peter Loeffler from the Theatre Department whohas taught me more than anyone else the joy and value of infinite possibility.Thank-you also to Michele, my mentor and confidant, whose insight and supportwent above and beyond the call of duty, and will never be forgotten.Finally, a special thanks to the person who gave me the gift of introducing me toMarisol. Thank-you to Richard, my friend and muse.viLucina, bony mother, laboringAmong the socketed white stars, your faceOf candor pares white flesh to the white bone,Who drag our ancient father at the heel,White-bearded, weary. The berries purpleAnd bleed. The white stomach may ripen yet.‘Moon rise,” Sylvia Plath, 1 958.vii1THE UNVEILINGI first became aware of José Rivera’s Marisol, in February 1 994, when I lookedupon a poster of a female angel, lying dead on a wooden cross. Across the top of theposter in bold black letters was the name “MARISOL”. The poster advertised a play tobe directed by M.F.A. directing candidate, Richard Wolfe, at the University of BritishColumbia in Vancouver.Marisol was written in 1 992 by José Rivera, a Puerto Rican playwright, now aresident of Los Angeles. The UBC production of Marisol was the play’s Canadianpremiere, and it debuted at the Dorothy Somerset Studio, from March 2nd to the 1 2th,1994.After being startled, but certainly intrigued, by the haunting image on the poster,I purchased a copy of Marisol and read the play in its entirety that evening. I willinclude here a synopsis of Marisol, included by the Dramatist’s Play Service on the backof the manuscript.Marisol Perez, a young Latino woman, is a copy editor for a Manhattanpublisher. Although she has elevated herself into the white-collar class, shecontinues to live alone in the dangerous Bronx neighbourhood of herchildhood. As the play begins, Marisol narrowly escapes a vicious attackby a golf club-wielding madman while travelling home on the subway.Later that evening Marisol is visited by her guardian angel who informsher that she can no longer serve as Marisol’s protector because she hasbeen called to join the revolution already in progress against an old andsenile God who is “dying and taking the rest of us with him)’ The war inheaven spills over into New York City reducing it to a smouldering urbanwasteland where giant fires send noxious smoke to darken the skies,where the moon has not been seen in months, where the food has beenturned to salt, and water no longer seeks its own level. Alone, without herprotector, Marisol begins a nightmare journey into this new war zone2where she finds herself on the streets, homeless, and where her manysurreal encounters include a woman arrested for exceeding her credit cardlimit and a homeless burn victim in a wheelchair looking for his lost skin.With the apocalypse well under way, the angels have traded in their wingsfor Uzis and wear leather motorcycle jackets and fatigues. As the actionbuilds to a crescendo, the masses of homeless and displaced people jointhe angels in the war to save the universe.I found this to be a play rich in disturbing, yet captivating images. My desire toinvestigate Marisol further was utterly irresistible, and it soon became the topic for myMaster’s thesis in Religious Studies.With the director’s permission, I sat in on three of Marisol’s rehearsals before theplay went up for public view. I chatted casually with the cast and crew, explored the set,the dressing rooms, and the lobby, writing down as many of my observations of therehearsal process as I could.Once the play opened, I attended six of its eight performances, observing not onlythe performances themselves, but how the audiences were responding to them. I chattedwith various audience members and scheduled appointments with those who wished tovolunteer their time to my project. Once the play closed, I scheduled a series of semistructured interviews of all of the cast and crew of Marisol, each interview lastingapproximately one and half hours.Due to time restrictions and a need for parameters for the project, I focused themajority of my interviews on the cast and crew. For these individuals, Marisol was morethan a one-night experience. For the two-week run, and the prior three week rehearsalperiod, this play had become their lives.3My theoretical orientation for the project refers primarily to the theories of VictorTurner who dedicated much of his work to the role of the participant in performance,rather than that of the spectator. Turner argues that the subjective experience of ritualperformance is a vital spiritual endeavour and criticizes Western culture for becomingincreasingly spectator-oriented, thereby divorcing the greater populace from a moreintimate, tactile experience of the sacred in performance.A more thorough investigation of audience reactions to Marisol would have beeninteresting, but was unfortunately beyond the resources of this particular researchendeavour.The age range of my respondents was limited. With the exception of RichardWolfe, the play’s director, and musician, David Epp, both of whom are in their earlythirties, all of my respondents fell between the ages of 18 and 26 (with most of them intheir early twenties). As well, all respondents came from Christian backgrounds — rangingfrom Roman Catholicism, to Greek Orthodox, and a variety of Protestant faiths.With the exception of one of the actors, who belongs to the Vineyard ChristianFellowship, all of my respondents no longer practised their respective religious faiths.While being exposed to these traditions by their families in childhood, upon reachingadulthood, they were no longer practising members of their religious communities. Allwere “agnostic. They were extremely critical of the traditions of their heritage, and yetwere not quite able to give up on “God”, whoever or whatever God might me. It is notsurprising that this is a central theme of the play, itself.My literary research for this project has encompassed many disciplines — religiousstudies, anthropology, theatre, and feminist studies. My theoretical focus, however, is4based primarily on the work of anthropologist, Victor Turner, who specialized in thesacred in performance. Turner’s work reveals that Marisol is a play that both mirrors andchallenges contemporary notions of the sacred. Turner’s theories combine religious ritualand secular theatre in a way that most fully unveils Marisol as a timely and creativeagent for social commentary and rebellion.5VICTOR TURNERAN ENCOUNTER WITH THE ABYSSThroughout the ages, many scholars — theologians, historians, psychologists, andanthropologists — have theorized about the nature and function of religious ritual inhuman society. Among these scholars, anthropologist Victor Turner has done the mostcomprehensive and innovative work in this field.Turner was a strong advocate of cross-cultural analysis. His countless books andessays on ritual performance include examples from Africa, India, Europe, China, andMeso-America to name but a few. Turner’s area of speciality, however, were thesocieties of central Africa, particularly the Ndembu of northwestern Zambia. During hisfield work with the Ndembu, in the late 1 950’s, Turner discovered that “decisions toperform ritual were connected with crises in the social life of villages”. Turner detecteda “close connection between social conflict and ritual...and that a multiplicity of conflictsituations [was] correlated with a high frequency of ritual performance” (Turner 1 969:10).This lead Turner to theorize that religious ritual plays a vital role in articulatingand resolving social tensions in all human societies. It is this relationship between socialcrisis and ritual performance, that has formed the basis of Turner’s “social drama” theory.Turner asserts that all public social life is a performance of some kind. Referring to thetheories of anthropologist Erving Goffman (1 959), Turner states that “ordinary life in asocial structure is itself a performance. We play roles, occupy statuses, play games withone another, don and doff many masks, each a ‘typification” (1 986: 107).6When there is tension or conflict in social life, it results in a “social drama”.Turner defines social dramas as “sustained public actions” in which social conflicts[entailing both past and present events] are enacted in front of other social members(1 984: 1 9). “These situations—arguments, combats, rites of passage—are inherentlydramatic because participants not only do things, they try to show others what they aredoing or have done; actions take on a ‘performed—for an audience aspect” (1986: 74).These dramas do not simply restate or mirror underlying social conflicts anddivisions. They also present possibilities for solutions. They articulate both “desire” and“hypothesis” (1 984: 20).Turner has organized social drama into four phases — breach, crisis, redress, andreintegration or schism. In the first phase, there is a “breach of regular norm-governedsocial relations”. A breach often results in a crisis “during which there is a tendency forthe breach to widen”. In an attempt to resolve the crisis, redress, “ranging from personaladvice to...formal juridical and legal machinery, or other modes of resolution [such as]the performance of public ritual” are utilized. “The final phase, consists either of thereintegration of the disturbed social group, or the social recognition and legitimation ofirreparable schism between the contesting parties” (1 979: 63-64).Turner uses a broad definition of the term “crisis”. Crisis includes unpredicteddisturbances to social life, such as natural disasters, or the death of a loved one.However, it also embodies more subtle social tensions such as that which accompaniesthe transition from the status of child to adult, or the passage at the fall equinox, fromthe warmth of summer to the harsh winds of winter.7It is redress, the third phase in social drama, that most interests Turner. In thisphase, society assesses the events leading up to crisis and attempts to pose solutions.Social drama often resorts to “cultural performance” as a vehicle in which redress canbe more thoroughly investigated. Examples of cultural performances are courts of law,an assembly of elders, ritual, and theatre (1 984: 1 9-20).During redress, and its subsequent cultural performances, social norms, and thestructures and institutions governing these norms, are often called into question “withlively possibilities of rejection” (Turner 1986: 22). As well, socially sanctioned authorityfigures can be accused of “vices, follies, stupidities, abuses” and last, but not least, “grossfailures in commonsense” (102).Social crisis often results from inadequacies in social structure. For Turner, socialstructure is the normative, everyday framework in which all social members live, andincludes an interrelated set of institutions, statuses, and relations.Turner observes that structure is a social necessity as it can organize society andprovide systems for meeting material needs. It has the potential for being practical andefficient, and for bringing order and reason to a given community. However, Turnercautions that too much diligence to structure can be problematic. He observed thatstructure often results in differentiation among social status and roles, and by nature,creates alienation, distance, inequality, and exploitation (1 974: 272).While cultural performances, ie redressive mechanisms, are themselves structured,Turner contends that they all contain within them the possibilities to challenge andrevolutionize structure. To expand on this point more clearly, I will examine the ritualprocess, in particular, as a redressive mechanism. It is in this genre of cultural8performance that Turner invested most of his work, and it forms the basis of the theoriesthat he later applied to contemporary North American theatre (both sacred and secular).I will demonstrate that Turner’s ritual model transposes very neatly onto the play,Marisol, and can reveal the very active redressive potential of this creative work.9OF RITUAL AND REBELLIONTurner criticizes those who limit a definition of ritual to “a standardized unit act,which may be secular as well as sacred” (1986: 75). Ritual for Turner is “theperformance of a complex sequence of symbolic acts”. It is a “transformativeperformance revealing major classifications, categories, and contradictions of culturalprocesses” (75). It is the experience of the ritual performance itself, the process, not thesatisfaction of static rules and regulations, that contain the possibility for transformationof the greater social structure (1 982: 79).It is true that rituals, themselves, have a structure, and that this structure is oftengenerated by firmly institutionalized norms and values. As a result, challenges to thestructure of a particular ritual often result in challenges to the greater social networksthey are based on.Frameworks that can structure ritual experience include various symbolic genressuch as texts, music, song, and dress, and may be pre-determined and carefully selected.However, such arrangements cannot utterly dictate the subjective experience ofparticipants performing a given ritual. There is always an active dialogue between thesubjective experience of ritual participants, and the frameworks instituted to guide thatexperience. Turner states:...the rules may frame the performance, but the flow of action andinteraction within that frame may conduce to hitherto unprecedentedinsights and even generate new symbols and meanings, which may beincorporated into subsequent performances. Traditional ritual framings mayhave to be reframed—new bottles made for new wine (1980: 160).10Turner concedes that at some “historic junctures” rituals cease to generatemeaningful experience for ritual participants and an emphasis is placed on satisfyingrules, rather than the more enriching gifts of process. Thus some rituals become “mereshells or husks”, they are “mere empty form without true religious content” (1 980: 161).However, Turner insists that this is the pathology of ritual. This is a ritual that isailing or, in some cases, dying. Structure must remain malleable to the ever-changingneeds of ritual participants. Living ritual constitutes an active dialogue between thesubjective experience of ritual and the external framework that guides this experience.In some cases, this dialogue may result in adjusting structure so that it may more activelygenerate a more meaningful performance for social members. If this does not happen,ritual loses its potency for ritual participants and will need to be reformed, or abandonedaltogether (1980: 160-161).Turner attributes the transformative potential of ritual, the ability to alter orabandon not only ritual structure, but the greater social structure from which it wasgenerated, to the specific sequencing of ritual into three main stages. These stages,Turner borrowed from French folklorist, Arnold van Gennep, who studied “rites ofpassage” or “rites of transition” (1980: 160-1 61).Van Gennep asserted that nearly all rituals are rites of passage, as rituals mostoften “accompany transition from one situation to another and from one cosmic or socialworld to another” (cited in Turner 1 980: 160). Turner agrees, stating that “Practically allrituals of any length and complexity represent a passage from one position, constellation,or domain of structure to another” (1 974: 238).11More specifically, Turner states that rites of passage function to assist individualsin making transitions between “states”. Turner defines “state” as a “relatively fixed orstable condition.” It includes social categories such as legal status, profession, rank, aswell as life stages such as adolescence or motherhood. State, therefore, can include anypsychological, mental or emotional condition. Not only individuals, but entire societiescan go through rites of passage, such as the transition between peace and war, orbetween ecological states, such as winter and spring (1 967: 93-95).Both Turner and Van Gennep assert that the transformative potential of rites ofpassage is inherently due to the sequence of three stages — separation, liminality, andre-aggregation. Rituals, therefore, (1) separate “specified members of a group fromeveryday life”, (2) place “them in a limbo [liminality] that was not any place that theywere in before and not yet any place they would be in”, (3) and “then returned them [reaggregation], changed in some way, to mundane life.” (Turner 1 986: 25).It is the second phase, Iimbo” or “Iiminality” that interests Turner, as it is at thisphase where the most actively transformative possibilities emerge. During the liminalphase, the ritual participant is “betwixt and between” states. The term liminality isderived from the word “limen” the Latin for “threshold” (1 974: 232). Ritual participants,therefore, are on the threshold between what they once were and what they have yetto become. These individuals are “ambiguous, neither here nor there, betwixt andbetween all fixed points of classification; he [she] passes through a symbolic domain thathas few or none of the attributes of his [her] past or coming state” (232). For example,when a woman is walking down the aisle to get married, she is no longer single, andyet not married. She is betwixt and between fixed categories of marital status.12As discussed earlier, ritual can serve as an opportunity to reinforce and instructsocial members in the workings and initiatives of the greater social structure. In thissense, the liminal state can serve as “the scene and time for the emergence of a society’sdeepest values in the form of sacred dramas and objects”. This may entail “the reenactment periodically of cosmogonic narratives or deeds of saintly, godly, or heroicestablishers of morality, basic institutions, or ways of approaching transcendent beingsor powers” (1986: 102).However, Turner strongly cautions that “liminality itself is a complex phase orcondition”. The Jiminal phase, therefore, may also become an opportunity for “the mostradical scepticism...about cherished values and rules” (1 986: 1 02).As previously stated, ritual performance often entails the utilization of varioussymbolic genres such as dance, masks, costumes, make-up, and music. These are oftenused as a means for exaggerating or inverting familiar categories of social life. As aresult, “The phenomena of liminality dissolve all factual and commonsense systems intotheir components and ‘play’ with them in ways never found in nature or in custom, atleast at the level of direct perception” (1986: 25).Liminality, therefore, is a realm in which “ambiguity reigns’ (1 986: 102). Familiarcultural images are present, and yet are simultaneously unfamiliar, as they areexaggerated or inverted by various symbolic media. By forcing a ritual participant toreflect on aspects of culture in an unfamiliar way, the outcome of this reflection cannotbe predicted. As a result, “people and public policies may be judged sceptically inrelation to deep values; the vices, follies, stupidities, and abuses of contemporary holdersof high political, economic, or religious status may be scrutinized, ridiculed” (1986:13102). Liminal symbols, therefore, are often characterized by ambiguity, as they cangenerate both appreciation and criticism of the greater social structure.There is also an ambiguous nature to the ritual participants themselves: “in ritualliminality they are placed, so to speak, outside the total system and its conflicts;transiently, they become men [women] apart” (1974: 241). Turner states that notions ofthe sacred often include that which is “set apart” or “on one side” in various societies”(241). The ambiguous nature of the ritual participant, therefore, permits the opportunityto reflect upon and scrutinize social life with a clarity that is not available when one isimmersed in social structure. Social members, as Turner states:...who are heavily involved in jural—political, overt, and consciousstructure are not free to mediate and speculate on the combinations andoppositions of thought; they are themselves too crucially involved in thecombinations and oppositions of social and political structure andstratification. They are in the heat of the battle, in the “arena” competingfor office, participating in feuds, factions, and coalitions (1974: 241).Simply put, it is a matter of not being able to see the forest for the trees.The separation of the ritual participant from the rest of familiar social life is “akind of veiling that paradoxically permits seeing” (Hall 1 980: 24). Part of ritual’stransformative potential is due to its ability to allow social members to more clearly seestructure. As Turner states, “if liminality is regarded as a time and place of withdrawalfrom normal modes of social action, it can be seen as potentially a period ofscrutinization of the central values and axioms of the culture in which it occurs” (1 969:167).14Through this process of separation, social members receive a more holistic visionof social structure; its strengths, as well as its weaknesses.At the very least, social members are provided with the “temptation” to reconsidertheir culture with a critical awareness they do not have when immersed in structure.Consequently, during transitions of “persons, groups, sets of ideas etc” there is an“interval, the liminal state, however brief...when the past is momentarily negated,suspended, or abrogated, and the future has not yet begun, an instant of pure potentialitywhen everything, as it were, trembles in the balance” (1 982: 44).The liminal phase, therefore, can be a period in which structural norms are pulledapart, recombined, and at times, left scattered in pieces. This gives liminality a certainunpredictable, spontaneous, and rather chaotic quality.Not surprisingly, Turner asserts that liminality takes place in the realm of “anti-structure”. For Turner, all of social life can be divided into two realms: structure and anti-structure. These realms overlap, with many social experiences containing elements ofboth. Turner contends that humans need both structure and anti-structure for a healthysocial life. Humans need to structure their material and rational existence, and they alsoneed time to step away from these structures; assess, reflect, and create. The liminalphase of ritual provides a perfect opportunity for social members to enter into this realmof anti-structure.Put simply, anti-structure is the realm of social experience that is not accountedfor in normative life. It is a chaotic, experimental realm which acknowledges possibilitiesthat are not framed in the everyday world.15Turner criticizes that too often scholars present the “social” as synonymous withthe “social-structural”. Consequently, if there is a breakdown in the social system, if itis “unstructured it is nothing” (1 974: 250). Less often is it considered that the dissolutionof structural relationships can be a positive and creative opportunity (250).When Turner uses the word “anti” he stresses that this is not to imply negativity.Social theory has far too often used structure as its “point of departure”, and structure hasthus “acquired a positive connotation” that Turner believes is inappropriate. QuotingBlake, Turner prefers to see structure as the “outward bound circumference” (1 974: 273),rather than the center or substance of social life. Quite on the contrary, Turner regardsanti-structure as a “generative center in which social beings can seek knowledge andcommunicate” (272-273).Turner insists that anti-structure must not be defined merely as counter-structure,or the mirror opposite of structural life. The distinction between structure and antistructure can not be watered down to a binary opposition. To state that anti-structure isexclusively “that which is not structural” is too restrictive. Where structural life is a realmof finite possibility, familiar established experience, anti-structure is an arena of infinitepossibility. Anti-structure, therefore, can encompass all that has been, exists, and maybe, in the future.In clarifying his distinction between structure and anti-structure, Turner refers toa parallel distinction between “byss and abyss”. In defining “byss”, Turner refers to theIonic variant of the Attic buthos, meaning “bottom,” or, “depth,” especially “of the sea.”“Byss”, therefore, is deep but “abyss” is beyond all depth. There is no bottom. It iscompletely unbounded. Turner states, “Many definitions of ritual contain the notion of16depth, but few of infinite depth. In the terminology I favor, such definitions areconcerned with finite structural depth, not with infinite “antistructural” depth” (1982:82).It is the unbounded quality of anti-structure, that makes it such a focal point ofcreativity and transformation (1 982: 26-2 7). As the liminal state in ritual is the doorway,the threshold into anti-structure, Turner asserts that liminality is a vitally importantcomponent of social life.Another important characteristic of liminality is its ability to facilitate communitas.Along with structural life tends to come a sense of alienation, as all structures “tend toproduce distance and inequality, often leading to exploitation between man and man,man and woman, and old and young” (1974: 272).The liminal state relaxes the demands of social structure that separate socialmembers in the everyday world (Alexander 1991: 27). This creates an ambiguity insocial relations that can permit, albeit temporarily, a sense of connectedness and equalitywith social members that one is normally separated from and, in many cases, designatedin a “superior” or “inferior” status.Turner defines this phenomenon of connectedness as an experience ofcommunitas. Turner defines communitas as “a relation between human individualsoutside normative social structure... [which] assumes that human beings are concrete,historical, idiosyncratic individuals, and not in their basic humanity segmented into rolesand statuses and divided by particularistic group loyalties” (1 978: 287).Turner stresses that communitas is not synonymous with Georges Gurvitch’snotion of communion which occurs “when minds open out as widely as possible andthe least accessible depths of the “I” are integrated in this fusion (which presupposes17states of ecstasy)” (cited in Turner 1 982: 45). Turner, on the contrary, explicitly statesthat communitas “preserves individual distinctiveness” (45). Turner sees communitas asa union of individuals with equal status. Individuals remain “total human beings in fullpsychological concreteness, not abstract, generalized socio-cultural entities” (1 986: 80).While all rituals contain within them possibilities for communitas, this levellingquality of liminality is more overt in some rituals than in others. For example,communitas is quite explicit in rituals designated in anthropology as “rituals ofrebellion”. In a ritual of rebellion social members who usually occupy a low social statusare temporarily made equal, or even superior, to those of whom they are an inferior inthe everyday world. Halloween is a winter solstice ritual from the Celtic tradition, whichallows anyone to become anything, if only for an evening. A construction worker canbecome a king (or a queen!). He can put on special clothes, change his voice andlanguage, and prance about with great grandiosity that he is not permitted in hiseveryday life. Halloween is a socially sanctioned occasion in which one’s identity islimited only by the imagination.Turner contends that this experience of transcending one’s social status can bea transformative experience that can inspire individuals, or groups of individuals, to latercontest the inevitably of their lower social status in the everyday world.There have been many social theorists however, that do not believe rituals ofrebellion can generate transformative possibilities. Quite on the contrary, they argue thatrituals of rebellion merely allow social members to vent their frustrations at the greaterstructure. After this emotional catharsis, social members can then settle down and more18readily return to and accept their original status. By permitting this public vent offrustration rituals of rebellion in fact serve as a means for preserving the status quo.In The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, Emile Durkheim (1 965) assertedthat an essential role of ritual was to integrate individuals into a group, and maintaincollective order and solidarity. Ritual performance, therefore, “expresses the collectiveunconscious of the social group” which results in “reinforcing conformity to collectivevalues” (Furman 1981: 228).Anthropologist Max Gluckman also saw ritual acts exclusively as social mirrors,reflecting normative social values, and thereby reinforcing structure. Gluckmanmaintained this stance, even when rituals appeared to rebel against the status quo.Rituals of rebellion, in this instance, functioned as a social catharsis, “purging theirmembers of anti-social sentiments” (Alexander 1991: 28). They provide a means forventing frustration and anger at the social system. Acting as a mass social “steam-valve”,rituals of rebellion preserve the existing social order by “draining off or deflectinghostility towards the status quo” (26).Some of Turner’s work, particularly in his earlier case studies, focus on rituals thatdo seem to demonstrate this cathartic function. Turner concedes that in some instances,rituals of rebellion, and especially the experience of communitas, can be pressed intothe service of structure, and therefore support the status quo. In this instance, Turnermakes a distinction between “institutionalized” and “spontaneous” communitas.Institutionalized communitas is an experience that serves a cathartic function andvalidates normative life. Spontaneous communitas, however, is a far less predictablesubjective experience and can instigate future challenges to structural classifications.19Turner asserts that when social members are only permitted to acknowledge andarticulate institutionalized communitas, this is an experience of communitas that hasbeen “perverted”, as it has been enslaved by structure.However, Turner states that in rituals of rebellion, even the most severe form ofinstitutionalized communitas, albeit perverted, contains a core of potentiallyspontaneouscommunitas, that can become “the seed of cultural transformation”. This is due to theinescapable fact that during rituals of rebellion social criticism is always implicit, as theyare representations of “discontent with the way things are, culturally” (Turner 1 982: 45).Liminality can, therefore, create “new models, symbols, paradigms, etc.,” andbecome “the seedbeds of cultural creativity”. These new symbols and constructions canthen feedback into the greater economic and political domains, and supply them with“goals”, “incentives”, and “raisons d’etre” (1 982: 28).20THEATREA TIME OF MASKS AND MARVELSAs Turner developed his theories concerning the relationship between everydaysocial life and ritual performance, he discovered that a similar relationship existedbetween society and theatre. Turner states that a variety of theories have been proposedfor the specific genesis of theatre.Some see [drama] coming out of religious rituals and myths which are aritual’s charter. Others see it originating in choral hymns of praise sung atthe tomb of a dead hero...Some see drama coming out of story-tellinground the old campfire where hunting or raiding achievements werevividly and dramatically retold, with miming of the events and roles (1986:27).Turner proposes that ultimately, the specific origin of theatre, in terms of its formand content, varies from society to society. While its structure may vary, Turner theorizesthat in most human societies, theatre likely fulfils a similar function. Turner asserts that“theatre owes its specific genesis to the third phase of social drama, a phase which isessentially an attempt to ascribe meaning to social dramatic events” (1982: 12). This isdue to the fact that whatever its aesthetic origins, theatre can be a powerful culturalvenue for “scrutinizing the quotidian world” (1 986: 27).“My contention is that social dramas are the raw stuff’ out of which theatrecomes to be created” (Turner 1 986: 105). During the redress phase in a social drama,events leading up to crisis are enacted, that is, performed publicly. Theatre, therefore,is a “natural fit” as a redressive mechanism.21Theatre is “nothing less than “performed”, in other words, “restored”experience, that moment in the experimental process—that often prolongedand eternally segmented “moment”—in which meaning emerges through“reliving” the original experience (often a social drama subjectivelyperceived), and is given an appropriate aesthetic form. This form thenbecomes a piece of communicable wisdom, assisting others...tounderstand beller not only themselves but also the times and culturalconditions which compose their general “experience” of “reality” (1 982:18).Turner does not propose that theatre and ritual are identical performance genres.There are differences between theatre and religious ritual, the most obvious being thattheatre does not necessarily have a religious content (although it often does). Theatretends to be more ludic and less culturally constrained, although “it nevertheless veryoften has a serious intent” (Turner 1978: 282). Finally, participation in theatre is oftenmore voluntary than it is for religious ritual (282).However, theatre parallels ritual and other performative genres, as they “are oftenorchestrations of media, not expressions in a single medium” (Turner 1 986: 23).Ritual...represents not an obsessional concern with repetitive acts, but animmense orchestration of genres in all available sensory codes: speech,music, singing, the presentation of elaborately worked objects, such asmasks; wall-paintings; sculptured forms;...costumes; dance forms withcomplex grammars and vocabularies of bodily movements, gestures, andfacial expressions (1986: 106).These very same symbolic genres are also utilized in theatre and act similarly towiden perceptions of everyday reality for social members. Borrowing Eliade’s words,Turner states that these symbolic genres can combine to create “a time of marvels”(1 974: 239). Masked figures both grotesque and beautiful can enter and exit, defying22“known” reality and challenging social members to reconsider established modes ofclassification.Unlike rituals, theatre in Western society tends to be associated with individualauthors and directors. However, ultimately theatre, like ritual, is a “social performanceinvolving many”. Theatre “is never really complete...until it is performed, that is, actedon some kind of stage before an audience” (Turner 1 986: 27). In order for a performanceto take place there are often several individuals, or groups of individuals — actors,costume designers, musicians, lighting technicians, etc. — that contribute to the work,collaborating (and/or combatting) one another in order to create the final production. Thescript from a single playwright becomes:...absorbed into a multigenred and multi-coded and collectivelyorchestrated finished product, the concentrated essence of all theprocesses that have acted upon the original unidimentionai script. Perhapswe now speak of it as having a creative life of its own (Turner 1986: 31).Theatre, therefore, is a “collaborative, social performative system”. Whileplaywrights and directors may portray the “dominant will and personality”, ultimately,there has to be a “sympathy and shared attitude among all concerned in this work ofpublic Jiminality and social creativeness” (Turner 1 986: 32).1The redressive quality of theatre entails that theatre enact events of crisis, as wellas offer up possibilities for solutions. Theatre, therefore, is not strictly a mirror of society.1 In reality, the process leading up to this “sympathy and shared attitude” can entail agreat deal more scratching and biting than Turner reveals in his discussion. As with any“collaborative system”, the road to the final theatrical work can be pitted with a series ofsocial crises and redress measures onto themselves.23On the other hand, the events of social drama often determine the “raw material” onwhich theatre is based, so it also cannot be said that social life is strictly a mirror oftheatre. There is a reciprocal relationship between theatre and society as social dramaand aesthetic drama are constantly impacting and reacting to one another.Turner states that social drama, “feeds into the...realm of stage drama” andthrough this process “unconsciously, or perhaps preconsciously, influences not only theform but also the content of the stage drama”. At the same time, stage drama, “when itis meant to do more than entertain—though entertainment is one of its vital aims—is ametacommentary, explicit or implicit, witting or unwitting” on the major social eventsof the time, which can include “wars, revolutions, scandals, institutional changes”. Notonly that, “but its message and its rhetoric feed back” into the greater societal structureand partly account for its future organization (1982: 107-1 08).Turner’s theory, therefore, critiques any exclusive allegiance to art imitating lifeor “all the world’s a stage”.Neither mutual mirroring, life by art, art by life, is exact,...as at eachexchange something new is added, something old is lost or discarded.Human beings learn through experience, though all too often they represspainful experience, and perhaps the deepest experience is through drama;not through social drama or stage drama (or its equivalent) alone, but inthe circulatory or oscillatory process of their mutual and incessantmodification (1982: 108).24Performance anthropologist Richard Schechner (a former student of Turner’s), hasillustrated the relationship between social drama and theatre in the form of a horizontalfigure eight, bisected through both hoops2 (cited in Turner 1980: 154).SOCIAL DRAMA STAGE DRAMATurner finds this diagram extremely useful in articulating the relationship betweentheatre and the greater social structure. He cautions, however, that the specific size andshape of the model, as designed by Schechner, “though effective, is somewhat equilibristin its implications” (1980: 154). In other words, as with any figure eight, both loops arenot always the same size. For a variety of social and political reasons, if a particular playboldly challenges structure, this does not mean it will automatically be recognized bythe greater society and facilitate reform. One play could be packed with socialcommentary and yet barely impact the greater social structure. On the other hand, a playwith mere whispers or hints of social unrest can receive a great deal of public attention.2 As a true devotee to his craft, Schechner believes theatre is essential for a healthy,thriving social life, and would never want to see it disappear from the repertoire of culturalperformances. Of his diagram, Schechner muses, “The visual pun on the figure for infinitywas not intended — but when I saw it, I was pleased” (Schechner 1985: 116).25While the reverse is also true, one cannot always assume, or predict, how a communitywill respond to a given cultural performance.Schechner agrees, and makes a clarification with his distinction between“transportation” and “transformation”. When a cultural performance does little to actuallyimpact a given participant or audience member in a long-lasting way, Schechnermaintains that they have experienced a transportation. They ventured into liminality, butreturned in basically the same “state” as when they entered. Conversely, if a performeror audience member is, in fact, changed by a given performance then it can be said thatthis individual experienced a transformation. Schechner states that sometimes it takes aseries of transportations to result in a transformation. That is, an individual or group ofindividuals need repeated exposure to a given theatrical event (or a variety of similarcultural performances) before they experience any long lasting influence.The groundwork has now been laid for the creative potential of ritual, how thisprocess extends to theatre, and how they both form a dynamic relationship with thegreater society. I will now put theory into practice, and reveal how these discussionsrelate specifically to Marisol.26MARISOLA JOURNEY TO THE THRESHOLD OF POSSIBILITYIn this chapter, I will demonstrate how Marisol is both a rite of passage and,ultimately, a rite of rebellion, for not only the character of Marisol herself, but the greatersociety in which she lives. In succeeding chapters, I will also demonstrate how this playprovides a window through which the “real-life” actors, crew and audience memberscan, themselves, experience “passage’ and “rebellion”, as Marisol’s world proves to bea haunting portrayal of the world all of us, not just the character of Marisol, live ineveryday.Before the play begins, audience members are given programs containing thenames of the play’s characters, cast, and crew. At the very center of the program is theimage of a brick wall, and inscribed on the wall, is the following poem:The moon carries the soulsOf dead people up to heaven.The new moon is dark and empty.It fills up every monthwith new glowing soulsthen it carries its silent burdento God. WAKE UP.At the request of the playwright, the “WAKE UP” looks like it has been added tothe poem by someone else.Even before the play begins, the audience is made aware that something old andestablished is about to be challenged. They are to be witnesses to a “waking up”.27When the play opens, Marisol and another woman are riding the New York Citysubway (the time is designated in the script simply as the “present”). The two womenare wearing identical grey suits and both women sit side by side reading newspapers.The second character is acknowledged in the script only as “Young Woman”. When anenraged man wielding a golf club enters the subway, Young Woman leaves, and theman known as “Golf Club” begins to speak to Marisol (Rivera 1 992: 12-1 3).GOLF CLUB. It was the shock that got me. I was so shocked all I couldsee was pain around me: little spinning starlights of pain ‘cause of theshocking thing my angel just told me. (He waits for a reaction. Marisolrefuses to look at him.) You see, she was always there for me. I couldcount on her. She was my very own godblessed little angel! My own giftfrom God! (No response. He makes a move toward Marisol. She looks athim quickly sizing him up.)MARISOL. God help you, you get in my face!GOLF CLUB. But last night she folded her hot silver angel wings underher leather jacket and crawled into the box I occupy on 180th street in theBronx...She creeped in. Reordering the air. Waking me up with the shock,the bad news that she was gonna leave me forever ... Don’t you see? Sheonce stopped Nazi skinheads from setting me on fire in Van CortlandtPark!...l live on the street! I’m dead meat without my guardianangel!...( The Man lunges at Marisol and rips the newspaper from her.She’s on her feet, ready for a fight.)MARISOL. Hey I didn’t make your life! You made your life!GOLF CLUB. (Truly worried.) That means you don’t have any protectioneither. Your guardian angel is gonna leave you too. That means for thenext four or five seconds, I could change the entire course of your lifeMARISOL. (Getting freaked.) Man, why don’t you just get a job?!GOLF CLUB. (Calm, almost pitying.) ... I could fix it so every time youlook in the mirror ... every time you dream ... or close your eyes in some28hopeless logic that closed eyes are a shield against nightmares ... you’regonna think you turned into me . . .Swinging his golf club high, the stranger then lunges for Marisol. Marisol screams.Suddenly, a guardian angel appears. She is a Native American woman with white wingsand a black leather jacket. Marisol and “Golf Club” fall to the floor. The stage goesblack.While the lights are out, one can barely see the subway walls in the dark, as theysplit in two, with each half rolling to opposite sides of the stage. When the lights comeup, one wall is in Marisol’s apartment, to the far left of the stage, and the other wall isto the far right, in the apartment of Marisol’s best friend, June.Recall that a rite of passage includes three phases: separation, liminality, and reaggregation. The splitting of the walls is the first act of separation. It is the first signal thatthe norm-governed world is starting to crumble. Literally, walls, structures, are breakingdown. Marisol and the audience are beginning to cross the threshold into liminality.According to Turner, in ritual performance, separation, liminality, and reaggregation, co-relate with themes of death, ambiguity, and rebirth.Separation, therefore, is often expressed through symbols of “dying, death,invisibility, darkness, decomposition, eclipse, [and] the dark of the moon” (1 978: 279).When citing from Rivera’s text, I have included as much of the original dialogue aspossible. However, in an effort to be concise to the present arguments, some phrases havebeen omitted.As well, please note that phrases contained within round brackets are stagedirections given by Rivera, and are inherent in the text, itself. If I include my own noteswithin Rivera’s text, I enclose them with square brackets.29After Golf Club’s assault, Marisol returns home, and diligently secures the threelocks on her apartment door. Later that night, while Marisol is sleeping, she meets herguardian angel for the first time. This causes her to wonder whether she is dead or alive,and is Marisol’s first encounter with ambiguity.Wait a minute — am I dead? Did I die tonight? How did I miss that? Wasit the man with the golf club? Did he beat me to death? Oh my God. I’vebeen dead all night. And when I look around I see that Death is my uglyapartment in the Bronx. No this can’t be Death! Death can’t have this kindof furniture! (1 7-18).The audience, at this point, is also unsure whether or not Marisol is dead. As thestage lights went out when Golf Club attacked Marisol, one does not know what reallyhappened. However, since Marisol is sleeping just before her angelic visit there is thepossibility that she is alive and the angel is just a dream. She could be dreaming. Shecould be dead. Which is real? In the liminal world, Turner reminds us “ambiguityreigns”.During separation, symbols of death and decomposition are applied not only toritual participants, but extend also to their environment, even the entire cosmos,including the eclipse or dark of the moon.The angel informs Marisol that the world is on the rim of an apocalypse. Marisolrecalls that her everyday world has recently been infected by terrifying, inexplicabledisturbances. She takes the opportunity to ask her angel:Why is there a war on children in this city? Why are apples extinct? Whyare they planning to drop human insecticide on overpopulated areas of theBronx? Why has the colour blue disappeared from the sky? Why doescommon rain water turn your skin bright red? Why do cows give salty30milk? Why did the Plague kill half my friends? AND WHAT HAPPENEDTO THE MOON? Where did the moon go? How come nobody’s seen itin nearly nine months....? (18)The angel explains that the increasing distress of the world is due to the fact thatGod is “senile’. The angel informs Marisol that “God is old and dying, and taking therest of us with Him” (19).Throughout the play, the senile God is represented as a gold crown containedwithin a glass box. It is suspended from the ceiling, high above the actors and theaudience for the duration of the play.In spite of such an ineffectual God, the angel informs Marisol that for the durationof her life, she has always been there to protect her.ANGEL. When you were six and your parents were fighting, I helped youpretend you were underwater: that you were a cold-blooded fish, in thebottom of the black ocean, far away and safe. When racist motherfuckersran you out of school at ten, screamingMARISOL. (In her sleep.) ... “kill the spik ...“ANGEL. ... I turned the monsters into little columns of salt. At last count, oneplane crash, one collapsed elevator, one massacre at the hands of a right-wingfanatic with an Uzi, and sixty six thousand six hundred and three separate sexualassaults never happened because of me (1 9).However, the dire situation in Heaven continues to worsen, and the result inhuman suffering is too much for the angel to bear.God is old and dying, and taking the rest of us with Him. And for toolong, much too long, I’ve been looking the other way. Trying to stop themassive haemorrhage with my little hands. But it didn’t work and I knewif I didn’t do something soon, it would be too late (19-20).31As a consequence, Marisol’s guardian angel is going to lead a band of rebelangels that are determined to slay the senile God. It may be a vicious and ugly battle asGod is “...better armed. Better organized. And, well, a little omniscient” (20). The angelenvisions, however, that the end result of the angelic rebellion will be the death of thisalready decaying and utterly ineffectual God. A new God will be crowned, and the earthwill be restored to health and vigour.Turner states that during rites of passage, ritual participants or “neophytes” areoften “in the presence of forms established from the beginning of things” (1967: 108).These forms are “invisible or supernatural beings or powers regarded as the first and finalcauses of all effects” (1980: 161). Similar to Marisol’s angel, they are often figures of“destruction...primarily because they personify an essential phase in an irreversibletransformative process” (1 982: 84).Unfortunately, as foretold by Golf Club, the Angel informs Marisol that she cannotprotect her anymore, as she must employ all of her attention to the angelic revolution.ANGEL. ...l have to leave you. I can’t stay. I can’t protect you anymore.MARISOL. (In her sleep.) What? You’re leaving me...? I’m gonna bealone?ANGEL. I don’t want to. I love you. I thought you had to know (20-2 1).The angel warns Marisol that she has two options for survival. She can learn howto live on her own and defend herself or, with the words “join us,” the angel informsMarisol that she can also join the rebel angelic army.ANGEL. ...l have to go and fight. And so do you.32MARISOL. (in her sleep, terrified.) I don’t know how to fight!ANGEL. You can’t endure anymore. You can’t trust luck or prayer ormercy or other people. When I drop my wings, all hell’s going to breakloose and soon you’re not going to recognize the world — so get yourselfsome power, Marisol, whatever you do (21).Unfortunately, the images of death and destruction do not end here. Ritualparticipants are considered to be structurally “invisible”. In so far as they are no longerclassified, the neophyte is considered to be structurally “dead”, and “the symbols thatrepresent them are, in many societies, drawn from the biology of death, [and]decomposition” (1 967: 96). The neophyte, therefore, “may be treated for a long or shortperiod, as a corpse is customarily treated in his or her society” (96).When Marisol goes to work the next morning, she learns that a woman, with herexact name, age, and address, was killed the night before. She also learns that thiswoman was beaten to death by a man with a golf club. As Marisol walks into her office,her best friend, June, runs to her saying:You died! You died! It was all over the networks last night! You’re on thefront page of the Post! (June shows Marisol the paper. On the cover is aclose-up of a young woman’s battered corpse. June reads.) “Twenty-sixyear old Marisol Perez of 180th street in the Bronx was bludgeoned todeath on the IRT Number Two last night. The attack occurred 11:00 p.m.”(Marisol tries to remain clam as she looks at the hideous picture.) Ithought it was you. And I tried to call you last night but do you have anyidea how many Marisol Perez’s there are in the Bronx phone book? Onlyseven pages. I couldn’t sleep (22).It is important to note that Turner uses death as a metaphor for the structurallydead. Neophytes are dead in the structural world, but alive in the liminal world.Neophytes are neither dead nor alive, and yet both. They hold a status of ambiguity. To33reinforce this betwixt and between status “often their very names are taken from them”(Turner 1 967: 96). Marisol does not have her own individual name. She has now learnedthat she shares her name with seven phone book pages full of Marisol Perez’s.The death imagery in Marisol’s personal life is paralleled by the decompositionand decay of the world and the cosmos. Again, one finds symbols that parallel Turner’swork with rites of passage. Turner states that these rites often use symbols of animals andbiology to force the neophyte to see his or her culture in unfamiliar and innovativeways. In this way, neophytes can encounter “norms from novel perspectives” (1 986: 25).The following is the angel’s description of the decaying cosmos:The universal body is sick, Marisol. Constellations are wasting away thenauseous stars are full of blisters and scars, the infected earth is runninga temperature, and everywhere the universal mind is wracked withamnesia, boredom and neurotic obsessions (1 9).Cosmos has now turned to chaos, and the chaos is infectious. Images of biologyare quite vivid in another passage, from a character named “Scar Tissue”:It’s incredible there. Logic was executed by firing squad. People tellpassionate horror stories and other people stuff their faces and go on. Thestreet breeds new species. And new silence. No spoken language worksthere. There are no verbs to describe the cold air as it sucks on yourhands. And if there were words to describe it, Marisol, you wouldn’tbelieve it anyway, because, in fact, it’s literally unbelievable, it’s anotherreality, and it’s actually happening right now. And that fact — the fact thatit’s happening right now — compounds the unbelievable nature of thestreet, Marisol, adds to its lunacy, its permanent deniability. But I know it’sreal. I’ve been bitten by it. I have its rabies (33).34The American government seems to mirror God’s senility and abounds in “grossfailures in commonsense”. The government attempts to construct a massive chain to tiethe moon back to the earth. A news report on the radio states:One insider has been quoted as saying that the White House hopes toraise revenues for Operation Moon Rescue by taxing lunatics. Respondingto allegations that cows are giving salty milk because grass iscontaminated, government scientists are drafting plans to develop a newstrain of cow that lives by eating Astroturf (22).The American government is also described with symbols of “animals andbiology”. A character named, Lenny, informs Marisol of the location of the last existingapple tree, “Powers-that-be got the very last tree. It’s in the Pentagon. The center of thefive-sided beast” (51).Marisol’s world begins to turn very ugly. Marisol learns thatJune’s brother, Lenny,is desperately in love with her. Unfortunately, Lenny is psychotic. At the age of five hebecame “a shrieking experiment in army medicine for six years” (29), and now has“turbulent sexual death fantasies” (27).Lenny stalks Marisol to her apartment and enters carrying a bloodied golf club.Lenny makes romantic advances toward Marisol and when Marisol rejects him, heattempts to rape her. Marisol grabs hold of the golf club and strikes Lenny in the head.Not knowing if he is dead or unconscious, Marisol runs from her apartment in a panicand in search of June.While Marisol searches the streets for June, her guardian angel appears. She iscarrying her feathery, white wings of peace in her arms. The angel throws the wings to35the ground. Marisol fearfully looks up at her angel. Already knowing the answer, sheasks, “\‘Var?”The stage blackens. End of Act One.36SYMBOLIC INVERSIONYOU’RE TRYING TO DISLODGE MEFor the duration of the second act, Marisol is fully in the liminal state. Marisol’sworld has now truly become “a place not a place, and a time not a time” (1978: 279).Marisol has entered the realm of anti-structure. She observes that it is eighty degreesoutside, and yet it has begun to snow. As the character, “Scar Tissue” describes:Word on the street is, water no longer seeks its low level, there arefourteen inches to a foot, and the French are polite. I also hear the sunrises in the north and sets in the south (47).Celeste Munger, lighting designer for the UBC production, stated that in thesecond act, she wanted to create a sense of “chaos” and “unreality”. In the first act, allthe lighting was radiating from the crown, from one central point (this, I would add,symbolizes an adherence to structured, normative life). Celeste explains:In the first act, all the light is coming from single source areas. In thesecond act, all the lights are from all directions, and that creates unrealitybecause you can look from any direction and get different shadows andlight. The second act is very haphazard because total chaos is breakingout.On the stage, garbage is strewn everywhere and the set consists only of a road,a sidewalk, and brick walls covered in graffiti.As Marisol searches the streets for June, she happens upon many strange andunusual characters that play a key role in Marisol’s eventual enlightenment andtransformation.37Turner states that in the liminal phase, grotesque and monstrous images are usedto startle participants out of the reality that they have come to take for granted. Theseimages are “aimed not so much at terrorizing or bemusing neophytes into submissionor out of their wits, as at making them vividly and rapidly aware of what may be calledthe “factors” of their culture” (1967: 105). Often these figures are familiar cultural imagesthat are extremely exaggerated, or in some cases, inverted.This leads ritual participants to reflect upon images and ideals taken for grantedin the every day world, and can, in turn, lead to an understanding of one’s culture thathas never before been realized (recall that this understanding can lead to both anacceptance and/or rejection of perceptions previously taken for granted).Ritual participants must reflect upon exaggerated and inverted figures, as theirfamiliar categories of classification will not apply. This opens up a whole realm ofpossible interpretations that cannot always be predicted. As such, exaggerated andinverted symbols are multi-vocal, that is, they can possess a wide variety of possibleinterpretations....the factors or elements of culture may be recombined in numerous,often grotesque ways, grotesque because they are arrayed in terms ofpossible or fantasised rather than experienced combinations...ln otherwords, in liminality people “play” with the elements of the familiar anddefamiliarize them. Novelty emerges from unprecedented combinationsof familiar elements” (Turner 1982: 27).Stephen Malloy, faculty supervisor for the UBC production, paralleled Marisol tothe Wizard of Oz. Similar to Marisol, Dorothy travels to the unknown realm of Oz. Shejourneys along a road in which she encounters several characters who guide Dorothy38to a revelation (how important her friends and family are to her, and how much sheneeds them). Similar to the final stage of a rite of passage, it is only after this revelationthat Dorothy is “returned, changed in some way, to mundane life” (Turner 1 986: 25).The presence of the road is very significant as it is the means through which bothMarisol and Dorothy enter, and are guided through, liminality.It is interesting to note that Marisol’s liminal phase is very similar to popularnotions of the underworld. The underworld is the realm of the dead and the un-dead.It is a dangerous place filled with powerful mystical beings. In cultures as wide rangingas Europe, Asia, West Africa, Melanesia, and Polynesia, the entrance to the underworldis often in the form of a road. The road can be dangerous, fraught with obstacles that thehuman traveller must overcome (Siikala 1987: 300-301).While it can be terrifying, the underworld is also a place of wisdom andenlightenment. Shamans from various cultures often descend to the underworld toconverse with its inhabitants and learn how to cure the ills of their communities.So too, does Marisol descend to the streets, where she meets several bone-chillingcharacters, who enlighten her to untold realities.Entrance to the underworld is characterized by an act of descending, a goingunderground. This is very similar to Turner’s description of liminality. Liminality, heexplains, is “a place of secret growth, a mediatory movement between what was andwhat will be, where the social process goes inward and underground for a time that isnot profane time” (1 978: 279). Turner thus describes liminality as a “place not a place,a time not a time” (279). It has all the makings of a ritual “Twilight Zone”, utterlyunpredictable and filled with possibility.39In a symbolically related tale, Alice in Wonderland falls down a dark hole,“Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end!” (Carroll 1865: 13). Alice’sfall leads her to a realm filled with “mad” unpredictable figures. It is a world similar tothe liminal, in which there is a complete suspension of structured time and space (Hall:24-25). Anything can happen. Alice’s perception of the world and her expectations ofit are forever changed, “Alice had got so much into the way of expecting nothing butout-of-the-way things to happen, that it seemed quite dull and stupid for life to go on inthe common way” (Carroll: 20).So, too, Marisol enters a realm, creatured with strange and unusual figures whoforever alter her expectations of the everyday world.The first character Marisol encounters on the street, is the “Woman With Furs”.While Woman With Furs was once a member of the upper-middle class, her fur coat isnow tattered, and her skin is soiled and burned. Woman With Furs informs Marisol thatshe was imprisoned and tortured by the government for defaulting on her Mastercardpayments. This was an occurrence Marisol had only heard rumours of. Marisol is offeredher first glimpse in to the gruesome realities that simmer beneath her everyday world.The next character Marisol meets is “Scar Tissue”. He is a homeless man who wasset on fire by Nazi Skinheads. Once again, this was something Marisol had only heardabout. When they were just a newspaper stories, people like Scar Tissue were easier todismiss. However, story has now become reality for Marisol and she can no longer blindherself to its existence. Scar Tissue describes in graphic detail how he suffered at thehands of the Skinheads:40A flash of light. I exploded outward. My bubbling skin divorced mysuffering nerves and ran away, looking for some coolness, some paradise,some other body to embrace! (Laughs bitterly.) Now I smell like abarbecue! I can eat myself! I can charge money for pieces of my broiledmeat! (46).When Scar Tissue removes the oven mitts he is wearing, Marisol can see with herown eyes what were once his hands, now fire-eaten and festering.Not long after Scar Tissue’s speech, a Nazi Skinhead (who we later discover isJune) enters the stage with a can of gasoline. Scar Tissue and Marisol watch in horror asthe Skinhead sets another homeless man on fire, right before their very eyes.To use William Styron’s words, darkness is now visible.4 There is a dark anddangerous world lying just beneath the mirage that was Marisol’s safe middle class life.It is becoming more difficult for Marisol to hide behind familiar structures and ideals,and still believe that these human horrors do not exist.Turner states that ritual participants “may be forced to live for a while in thecompany of masked and monstrous mummers representing the dead, or worse still, theun-dead” (1967: 96).A clear example of this phenomenon of the un-dead occurs when Marisolencounters “Young Woman”. Young Woman appeared in the first scene, sitting next toMarisol on the subway. Both women wore identical clothes. They could be mistaken fortwins. Young Woman is the character one assumes was the “Marisol Perez” pictured,bludgeoned to death, in the newspaper article June read at the beginning of the play.“Darkness Visible” is the title of Styron’s 1 990 autobiographical account of his battlewith depression, the unveiling, if you will, of his own inner demons.41When she appears in the second act, Young Woman is a walking corpse; her faceghastly white. Young Woman insists that she is the real Marisol Perez and that she isdead. Marisol counters that she, in fact, is the real Marisol Perez and she is very muchalive. Marisol’s face to face encounter with Young Woman forces her to reconsider heridentity. Who is she really? What part of her is dead and what part of her is alive?Young Woman becomes symbolic of Marisol’s psyche, particularly those aspectsshe has ignored and “amputated’. As Marisol tries to articulate who she is, she is forcedto review her past. As a result, Marisol uncovers a part of herself she has long ignored -- her Latin-American heritage.MARISOL. No — I’m me...(Hoids her head and closes her eyes, tryinghard to remember the facts of her iife.)...l lived in the Bronx...l commutedlight years to this other planet — Manhattan! I learned newvocabularies...wore weird native dress...mastered arcane rituals...andamputated neat sections of my psyche, my cultural heritage...yeah, cleaneasy amputations...with no pain expressed at all — none! — but so muchpain kept inside I almost choked on it...so far deep inside my Manhattanbosses and Manhattan friends and my broken Bronx consciousness nevereven suspected.. .(50).Dawn Petten, the actor who played Young Woman in the UBC production,describes Marisol ‘s inner journey: “Marl sol keeps searching into herself, cross-referencingthe world to herself. She sees the destruction, but that’s happening in her soul. Herpersonal landscape, her “inscape”, has been obliterated, too.”Enlightenment however can be painful, and throughoutthis process Marisol oftentries to remain in a state of denial, and longs for her once structured world:42Okay, I just wanna go home! Just wanna live with June — want my boringnine-to-five back — my two-weeks-out-of-the year vacation — myintellectual detachment. — my ability to read about the misery of the worldand not lose a moment outta my busy day. To believe you really knewwhat you were doing God — please, if the sun would just come up! (48)Marisol’s hopes however, are not realized. Lenny shows up, not only alive, butnine months pregnant — a symbolic inversion, indeed! Lenny tells of how his life wastransformed by his pregnancy, how he now views his life in a brand new light, andwishes other men could share in his revelation.Every man should have this experience. There’d be fewer wars. This ispower. This is energy. I guard my expanding womb greedily. I worship mynew organs...the violent bloodstream sending food and oxygen...back andforth...between two hearts. One body. Two surging hearts! That’s arevolution! (52-53)This is a staggering image for Marisol. “You’re trying to dislodge me,” she cries.“Contradict all I know so I won’t be able to say my own name” (52). These are fittingwords as this act of dislodging one from familiar structures, is precisely what symbolicinversions are supposed to do.Marisol tries one last desperate attempt to cling to a normative worldview thatis beginning to crumble. She says to Lenny:...When the sun comes up in the morning, all this will be gone! The citywill come back! People will go back to work. You’ll be a myth. A folktale.Maybe you should stop pretending you’re pregnant and find a job (52).None of these things happen. Quite on the contrary, Lenny goes into labour. Hefalls to the ground in terrible pain and Marisol has no choice but to help Lenny in any43way she can. The audience cannot see what Marisol can, but after much moaning,panting and panic, the baby is delivered into Marisol’s arms. Marisol wraps the baby inher coat and cradles it lovingly. However, within seconds of this immediate andmiraculous encounter with new life, the expression on Marisol’s face quickly turns tosorrow. The baby is dead.Immediately following the birth scene is a burial scene. Lenny carries the babyover to the sidewalk, easily lifts a slab of cement and starts to bury the baby in the earth.Marisol discovers that this sidewalk is not merely a pathway for pedestrians. It is also atomb. Each slab of cement covers a coffin waiting for the burial of a dead baby. Lennyexplains:The city provides these coffins. There are numbers on them. The cityknows how we live. These are babies born on the street. Little girls of thetwilight hours who never felt warm blankets around their bodies. Neverdrank their mothers’ holy milk. Little boys born with coke in their blood.This is where babies who die on the street are taken to rest (55).As he is doing this, Marisol is reading the names scratched into the sidewalk. Toher astonishment, some only have dates of birth and burial. Marisol says over and overto herself “no name...no name...no name”. When Lenny finishes the burial, he kisses theground and says “Night, little Marisol”. It is after the burial scene that Marisol realizesa part of herself has died as well, and her final transformation is complete. The death ofthe baby Marisol, ushers forth a new Marisol Perez, a woman who is fully conscious,and who seeks to fight to end the suffering of humanity.Marisol stands up and proclaims to Lenny and June, “I have a clear vision for usnow. I know what I want to do”. Marisol informs her friends that they must join the44rebel angelic army in the fight against the senile God. Marisol can no longer close hereyes to the horror that has manifested around her due to the ambivalence and passivityof not only God, but herself, as well. Marisol decides to take action.Unfortunately, Woman With Furs reappears. She has sided with the corruptAmerican government against the angelic revolution, and kills Marisol with an Uzi.Although Marisol’s body dies quickly and violently, Marisol suddenly stands up andfaces the audience. This is the liminal state. Anything goes.Marisol informs the audience about the events of the cosmic battle. Despite theirpassion and conviction, the rebel angels begin to lose their fight, and they have nochoice but to retreat.Then, as if one body, one mind, the innocent of the earth take to thestreets with anything they can find — rocks, sticks, fires — and aim theirrage at the senile sky and fire into the tattered wind on the side of therebels (spotlight on a single homeless person angrily throwing rocks at thesky. This vision lasts only seconds. The stage once again goes to black. Aspotlight on Marisol)...billions of poor, of homeless, of peaceful, of silent,of angry ...standing and screaming and fighting as no species has everfought before. Inspired by the earthly noise, the rebels advance! (58)Marisol has entered the final stage of her rite of passage. Images of re-birth andrenewal appear, as a small moon begins to poke light through the night sky. Marisolinforms the audience:New ideas rip the Heavens. New powers are created. New miracles aresigned into Law. It’s the first day of the new history...(There’s a fewseconds of tremendous noise as the war hits its climax. The glass boxexplodes and the crown falls to the ground. Then silence. The Angelappears next to Marisol, wingless, unarmed, holding the crown in herhands. The Angel holds the crown out to the audience as Marisol looksat her.) Oh God. What light. What possibilities. What hope. (lights begin45to shine on Marisol and the Angel — and they disappear in the wild lightof the new millennium.) (58)It is significant that it is the glass around the crown that shatters, not the crown,itself. God is not dead. As the angel prophesies at the beginning of the play, a new Godwill be crowned. God has not been slain. If this were the case, the crown would haveshattered, as well. It is a destruction of a human perception of God, that has beenpurged. It is a perception of God that is static, not willing to adapt to the needs of hispeople.The play’s director, Richard Wolfe, states that this is also an attack on the beliefthat God will always “accept our sins for us and then we can just go on sinning”. As aspecies we must take responsibility for the world that lies before us.The rebel angels won the war, but this did not happen until humanity becamewilling to sacrifice and join in the battle. God will not float down as a benevolent fatcherub or a kindly grandfather and magically take away the injustices and abuses thathumans have perpetuated. Marisol advocates an active spirituality in which humans areresponsible for cleaning up the messes they create. God will help us if we helpourselves.It is important to note that the journey of Marisol, as well as her social andcosmic worlds, follows a path of death, chaos, and re-birth. This notion of apocalypseis one of both destruction and creation. The Greek “apokalypsis” means “unveiling”,“uncovering”. In its historical use apocalypse entailed revelation. This revelation revealedthat there would be a final battle between the forces of good and evil, and, mostimportantly, no matter how vicious the battle, good would prevail over evil. However,46modern use of the word apocalypse has come to denote catastrophe and destruction,without the revelation that anything positive or creative will prevail (Fine 1987;Gruenwald 1987). Marisol delivers a more ancient use of the image of the apocalypse.However, it must be emphasized that “good” only prevailed when it was preceded byan “unveiling”, by consciousness.I do not believe that playwright, José Rivera, is claiming a violent catastrophicapocalypse is the best medicine to heal the ailments of humankind. I do submithowever, that Rivera is displaying through extreme example, that only by facing andacknowledging that the dark side of social life does in fact exist, the violence, the rage,and the abuses, can we uncover the solutions that will cure these ills and transform oursociety into a better world. As Jungian analyst, Nor Hall states, “We must examine howwe rot, before any reordering can be done” (1994: 60).This transformational promise is revealed not only in the words of the angel atthe beginning of the play, but in the symbol of the moon as well. We learn from Marisolthat the moon has disappeared and has been gone for nine months. This is the samelength of time it takes to create a human being. Even though there is darkness and lossof the moon, it is gestating, preparing to return. There is always the potential for re-birth.47ANGEL OF THE SWORDNow that I have illustrated the overall journey and framework of Marisol, it istime to more fully access its liminal potential. An important key to unlocking Marisol’sliminal mysteries, is through symbolic inversion. Clearly the most significant andinnovative of Rivera’s inversions, is Marisol’s guardian angel. She is the generative centerfrom which the characters most fully understand themselves, and the world they live in.She is the doorway, the threshold to the abyss. Like alchemists it’s time to enter into theabyss; draw forth its mercurial, contradictory elements, and discover what dissipates,what merges, what is destroyed and what is created.While I haven’t been able to locate a concrete definition of symbolic inversion,scholars such as Victor Turner and Barbara Babcock have used the following terms todescribe inversion: “contradictions”, “paradoxes”, “role reversals”, and “the world upsidedown” (Turner 1967, 1978; Babcock 1978). It is important to note that symbolicinversion does not solely refer to strict oppositions, in the sense of binary oppositions.They are not exclusively a negation of what we find in the everyday world. Symbolicinversions are multi-vocal. They emanate a wide range of interpretations that fallbetween categories of binary oppositions (Turner 1969: 41). Once again, the liminalstate in which symbolic inversions are utilized, is characterized by anti-structure, whichtranscends mere counter structure. Symbolic inversions present not only negation butpossibility. That which the structural world is not, as well as all that it could be.48Symbolic inversions operate in the abyss. One cannot always predict, therefore, what anindividual may or may not take from them.As a symbolic inversion, Marisol’s angel contains aspects of culture that are bothfamiliar and unfamiliar, simultaneously. Let us first examine the ways in which she isfamiliar, that is, those aspects of the angel that can be easily recognized by historicalprecedent.Angels are important figures in the Judeo-Christian tradition and appear in morethan half the books of the Bible. Dionysius Areopagite and Thomas Aquinas havehierarchically ordered angels into nine categories or “choirs”: Seraphim, Cherubim,Thrones, Dominations, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. Whilethehistorical range for angelic figures is both rich and fascinating, for my purposes, I won’tbe analyzing Marisol’s angel specifically in reference to this hierarchy. In Rivera’s text,Marisol’s angel is referred to only as a “guardian angel”. Historically, guardian angels areconsidered to be a “sub-class” of ministering angels that can be found operating inseveral of the “choirs” (Godwin 1 990: 23, 68).In all the literary sources consulted, all endeavours to define angels have referredto the Greek etymology, aggelos, meaning messenger. The most universal emphasis inthe definition of angels is that they are the messengers of God. Their primary functionis to serve on behalf of God’s will.As humans pray and plea with God to protect them from the evils around them,some angels have historically been appointed to protect humans on God’s behalf. In thisservice, angels protect humans not only from external harm, but harm they may cause49themselves. This protective service lead to the popular notion of the “guardian angel”.Theologian T.L. Fallon thus defines guardian angels as:...intelligent spiritual creatures divinely deputed to exercise individual careand protection over men on this earth and assist them in their attainmentof eternal salvation. Most frequently, guardian angel is taken to mean asingle angel assisting an individual man or groups of persons or a singlenation, parish, etc. (1967: 518-519).St. Thomas Aquinas, who greatly influenced the Christian notion of the guardianangel, maintained that all people, whether or not they are Christians, have guardianangels who will never leave them, even if those in their charge become the worst ofsinners. Aquinas argued that angels seek to enlighten and inspire humans to follow adevout Christian path, however they cannot prevent people from making use of their freewill, even if this has the most evil consequences (cited in Giovetti 1993: 198-1 99).It has not yet been defined as dogma that the guardian angel “as a distinctspiritual being has been sent by God to protect every individual person” (Fallon: 519).The guardian angel, however, is very much alive in Catholic theology and piety (519).There is even a liturgical feast of the Holy Guardian Angels in Catholic observances,which occurs on October 2 (Davidson 1967: 128).My father’s family is French Roman Catholic, and had a firm belief in guardianangels. I clearly remember stories told to me by my great-grandmother of how my overlycurious, and dangerously adventurous young father was saved from one catastrophe afteranother, thanks only to the diligence of his guardians angels.50When I was born, my great-grandmother bought me a shiny golden medallion.Painted on it, was a sleeping child, and above the child was a golden haired angel,watching and protecting.While the guardian angel is not literally designated in the Bible, it has certainlybeen fostered by it (Fallon: 519). The figure of the angelic protector can be found in boththe Old and New Testaments.Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the mostHigh, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall anyplague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge overthee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands,lest thou dash thy foot against a stone (Psalm 91 .9-1 3).But he said to me, “The Lord, before whom I walk, will send his angelwith you and make your way successful” (Genesis 24.40).In Matthew we find that every child has a protecting angel when Jesus says: “Seethat you never despise any of these little ones [members of his kingdomj; for I tell youthat their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my father in heaven”(Matthew 18.10).The guardian angel certainly has its precedent in Jewish belief. The Talmud saysthat every Jew is attended throughout his life by 11 ,000 guardian angels and “everyblade of grass has over it an angel saying “grow” (cited in Davidson 1 967: 127-128).An interesting facet in the guardian angels’ history is they are not exclusivelypassive conduits of God’s love, loving shields to protect us from the cruel world andourselves. Angels can, at times, more resemble the sword than the shield. Rather than51passively deflecting the evils that threaten humanity, guardian angels can most activelyand offensively charge forth to slay those evils so they cannot harm us again.This is certainly the case for Marisol’s angel. She decides that it is not enough tosimply shield Marisol from plane crashes, collapsed elevators, and thousands of sexualassaults. She decides to pick up an Uzi and slay the very source of these evils: a corruptgovernment that has become a devouring beast, and a senile God who decided to lookthe other way.The warrior guardian who battles evil in an effort to save all of humanity has itsmost prominent Biblical parallel in the Archangel Michael. In the Judeo-Christiantradition, there are four angels who are regularly given proper names: Michael, Gabriel,Rapha-el, and Un-el (Godwin: 36). Marisol’s angel is never referred to with a propername, however she much resembles Michael.Among all angels named in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic writings, the mostfamous is Michael. Among his many posts and achievements noted throughout the ages,Michael has been designated as the guardian of Jacob, the angel who stayed the handof Abraham, and, in Jewish lore, t’the fire that Moses saw in the burning bush had theappearance of Michael” (Davidson: 1 93-1 94).In the Christian traditions of the East, Michaeline devotion was evidenced by the4th century in churches and sanctuaries in and near Constantinople. Devotion toMichael then spread to Italy and the rest of Europe. In the west, the feast of St. Michaeland the angels was celebrated as early as the 5th century in the church of the samename outside Rome. Michael remained the only individual angel honoured in liturgicalfeasts in the church before the 9th century (Bialas 1967: 514).52Michael has been titled Princeps militiae angelorum (Tsuji 1967: 516). His mostnoteworthy achievement is that of the warrior who conquered Satan.The most detailed account of this endeavour can be found in the Revelation ofJohn. Revelation predicts an apocalypse in which Satan, also identified as the “Dragon”and the “Beast”, and his band of demon angels will rise up and attempt to conquerGod’s kingdom and rule humankind. In retaliation, the archangel Michael will lead anarmy of angels to defeat Satan. A giant cosmic battle will ensue and ultimately Michaelwill strike the decisive blow, conquering Satan by hurling him and his angels into a lakeof fire.Rivera quite explicitly draws a parallel between Marisol’s angel and Michael, andtheir battle against the beast, in the dialogue between Marisol and her angel at thebeginning of the play.ANGEL. Soon we’re going to take off our wings of peace, Marisol, andput on our wings of war. Then we’re going to spread blood and vigoracross the sky and reawaken the dwindling stars!MARISOL. (In her sleep, reciting fast.) “And there was war in Heaven;Michael and his Angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought -Marisol here is citing the initial phrases of Revelation 12.7. The completequotation is as follows.And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against thedragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated,and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragonwas thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan,the deceiver of the whole world — he was thrown down to the earth, andhis angels were thrown down with him (Rev 12.7-9).53Marisol’s angel and Michael are both warrior angels who battle and defeat theevils of humankind which are metaphorically represented as a beast (recall that thePentagon is referred to as the “five-sided beast”).As warrior guardians, there is another interesting parallel between Michael andMarisol’s angel. Both angels have inspired mortal women to physically defendthemselves, and offensively combat those that threaten them. In the fifteenth century, St.Joan of Arc took up arms (an unusual feat for a woman at this time) against the Englishoccupation of France. Her actions were inspired by three voices — St. Catharine ofAlexandria, St. Margaret of Antioch, and the archangel Michael (Barstow 1 987: 96-97).There is however, a very distinct difference between Marisol’s angel and Michael.Michael saves humanity by killing an evil beast and defending God. Marisol’sangel saves humanity by killing an evil beast as well as killing God, as He is the onewho allowed the beast to gain strength in the first place. Michael saves the world bydefending God. Marisol’s angel saves the world by opposing God.ft is this very key difference that makes Marisol’s angel a symbol that is inverted.She is a figure that has a great deal of historical precedent and mirrors a well knownangelic figure. However, she is both his mirror and his opposite, simultaneously. It is thisunique quality that places Marisol’s angel on the threshold to a wide range of symbolicpossibilities.54THE ANGELIC CHALICE SHATTERSAs stated earlier, to define an angel, all literary sources consulted refer to theGreek etymology, aggelos, meaning “messenger.” From the Greek etymology, historianAllison Coudert concludes, “The literal meaning of the word indicates the primaryfunction of angels as divine messengers” (Coudert 1 987: 282).Similarly, social historian S. Tsuji states, “As the original Greek word indicates,the most important function of angels is to bring messages from God to men” (1 967:516). Angels, therefore, function as divine vessels or conduits facilitatingthe will of God.As Coudert states, angels “praise and serve God, reveal divine truth, and act asextensions of the divine will, rewarding the good and punishing the wicked. They helphumans understand God and achieve a proper rapport with him” (283). Angels aredivine chalices carrying forth that which God desires.According to Scripture, while angels are spiritual beings, they are always to beunderstood as acting in complete subordination to God (Fallon: 507).Bless the Lord, 0 you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding,obedient to his spoken word. Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministersthat do his will. (Psalms 103.20-2 1).As for me, when I was with you, I was not acting on my own will, but bythe will of God. Bless him each and every day; sing his praises (lobit12.18).Are not all angels spirits in the divine service, sent to serve for the sake ofthose who are to inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1.14).Marisol’s angel, however, bears the message that the relationship between Godand humans is deteriorating and will soon sever. God has turned a blind eye to the55suffering of humanity and the angel refuses to play her traditional role as a devotedconduit for the will of God. The angel bears the message, not of God’s will, or even thathe is listening. Hers is the message that God’s senility is severing the tie between Godand humanity. The angel now acts as an intermediary for the collective band of angelswho will overthrow the King of Heaven.It is at this juncture that Marisol’s angel as a warrior distinctly contrasts withMichael. Michael fights on behalf of God to overthrow Satan, the embodiment of evilthat threatens humanity, and all of the cosmos. However, in Marisol, the threat tohumanity and the cosmos is not God’s adversary, it is God, Himself. Marisol’s angelendeavours therefore to slay God, not God’s enemy. As a result, Marisol’s angel is notonJy a warrior, she is a rebel.It would be easy to explain this digression by simply referring to the story of thefall of Satan. There is, with Satan, scriptural precedent for the rebel angel. ThomasAquinas asserted that angels, as well as humans, possess the gift of free will—and it isprecisely because of this that some angels can fall into the sins of pride, arrogance, andenvy, becoming “fallen” angels, capable of revolting against God (Giovetti: 198; Gratsch1985: 44-45).One explanation offered with regard to the origin of fallen angels goes back toGenesis 6.1-2, where the Sons of god (angels) turned away from God and becameinfatuated with mortal women “and took them wives from among them” (Davidson:112).The cause of Satan’s downfall, however, has commonly been attributed to the sinof pride or ambition (Davidson: 112).56Initially Satan, also known as Lucifer, “the bearer of light”, was the most perfect,most beautiful of the angels that God created. However, Lucifer became so enamouredwith himself, that he completely lost sight of his responsibilities to God. Lucifer, tiredof his role as God’s servant. He committed the sin of pride and desired to rule theheavens himself and be the supreme authority (Giovetti: 53).Giovetti (53), parallels Lucifer’s fate with a passage from Ezekiel:Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hastbeen in Eden the garden of God; and every precious stone was thycovering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx and thejasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold...Thou artthe anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so...By themultitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee withviolence, and thou hast sinned....Thine heart was lifted up because of thybeauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness...(Ezekiel 28.12-1 7).However, German theologian Johann Michl states that the Church has neverdeclared authoritatively the “way in which the angels sinned to become the devil anddemons” (Michl 1967: 513). There is no detailed account in the Bible of the angelicrebellion against God, although it is briefly referred to in both the Old and NewTestaments (such as the Revelation of John) (Giovetti: 52).While Marisol’s angel is also the leader of a rebel band of winged warriors, shecannot be viewed as simply a female embodiment of Satan. Satan acted for selfishpurposes, while Marisol’s angel emulates Michael’s initiatives, that is, to save humanityand the universe.57Through this analysis of the similarities and differences between Rivera’s angeland historical precedent, we are not only aware of the malleability and originality ofRivera’s imagination, but we are also given pivotal insight into his theology.When the angel warns Marisol of her impending leadership in the angelicrebellion, she does not simply announce an act of abandonment. She instructs Marisolthat she must learn to fight for herself. Marisol is going to have to learn how to protectherself from sexual abuse and oppression, as the angel will not be there to fight off the66,604th sexual assault. Also, the angel will no longer be around to turn racist“motherfuckers” into salt. Marisol is now going to have to take responsibility and notonly uncover her sense of pride and dignity in her ethnic heritage, but learn how to fightagainst her Neo-Nazi racist world. When Marisol opens her eyes to her own oppressionand begins to fight for herself, she begins to open her eyes to the suffering of others andfights for them, as well.Marisol’s journey is not just a tale of her suffering due to an angelicabandonment. It is also an initiation into her own power. It is this transformation ofMarisol that is crucial for understanding Rivera’s use of the inverted symbol of a warriorrebel angel.In Rivera’s script, Marisol’s guardian angel is not only a warrior and a rebel, sheis an African-American woman. It is unlikely that Rivera’s choices in this instance werearbitrary. Both women and African-Americans have been, and still are, oppressed inAmerican society, and this oppression has long been validated by Christian traditions.Viewed in this context, one can easily understand why this angel rebels so fiercely58against a Christian God. Unlike Lucifer, this is not a rebel fighting merely for selfish gain.She represents the oppression of an entire people and is fighting to end their suffering.As noted, Rivera’s script calls for an African-American woman. When this playwas produced at UBC however, Richard Wolfe cast the angel with a Native Americanactor. This was particularly appropriate considering that the UBC production wasMarisol’s Canadian premiere. Considering most especially its West Coast location, it ismade all the more clear to a Canadian audience that this angel is not a Satanic dictatorwanna-be, but is a woman who truly knows what it is like to suffer from an oppressivegod, and is just in her anger.It was important to Stefany Math ias, the woman who played Marisol’s angel, thatshe was an active symbol who was a revolutionary. Stefany informed me that in mostplays, Native American characters often support stereotypes of docility and indifference.Stefany’s family was pleased to see her in such a vital, active role, and gave her tips onhow to communicate more fully to the audience that she was Native American. Stefany’smother told her to wear thicker braids and wrap them in buckskin. Her father evensuggested that she wear the symbol of a Native revolutionary — a red bandanna.It is important to note, as well, that the angel does not rebel on her own personalbehalf, like Lucifer, or strictly on behalf of women or Native Americans. The angels inMarisol are fighting on behalf of all humanity. Scar Tissue’s guardian angel is Japanese.The angels of Marisol are truly beings symbolic of communitas; fully realized in theirown identities, and yet championing the rights of all.59Ultimately, the cosmic revolution is not victorious without the participation ofmortals. Recall that the rebel forces are losing the battle until humans rise up in support.Heaven and earth must unite to create a better world.What is truly slain in this play is human passivity. It is the notion that we canignore our own wounds, our own oppression, as well as the oppression of others, withthe blind hope that God will somehow, someday, just take it all away for us. This playactively advocates what social scientists have long theorized. Our notion of ourselvesand our notion of God are not separate. If we are an oppressive society, we will find aGod, or construct a perception of God, to support it. If we take responsibility and carefor ourselves, and those we share this planet with, only then will we be capable ofparticipating in a relationship with the divine that is truly life-affirming; a spirituality thatenables us to become the best of who we are.60MARISOL NIKEFor the cast and crew of Marisol, the gender of Marisol’s angel was an importantissue. When I asked respondents about their conception of angels before readingMarisol, four of them quite explicitly stated that they had always associated angels withmale figures: “You often think of a guardian angel as a man”, “typically angels are male”,“historically male”, “angels were men”.In Rivera’s text, however, all of the angels are explicitly female. When Golf Clubdescribes his angel, he informs Marisol that “She creeped in. Reordering the air” (13).Marisol recognizes that Scar Tissue has had an angelic visitation similar to her own,when Scar Tissue says the word “She.”SCAR TISSUE. The angel was beautiful. She was Japanese.MARISOL. (Can’t believe it; wanting to.) She?SCAR TISSUE. Kissed me. I kept hearing Jimi Hendrix in my middle earas those lips, like two brands, nearly melted me. She was beautiful. Raw.MARISOL and SCAR TISSUE. Fulgent5 (46).The majority of those interviewed asserted that it was essential Marisol’s angel becast with a female actor, to dislodge any connection between the rebel angel andIn Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (1971), “fulgent” is defined as“dazzlingly bright: radiant”. It is akin to the Latin fulgens, “to shine, flash”, as well as theLatin flagrare, “to burn” (918).61Lucifer. These discussions revealed that this is a connection not only the result ofLucifer’s precedent, but popular notions of male versus female behaviour.Alex [the actor who played all the male roles]: I think it’s absolutelyessential that the revolution is lead by a woman, because we’re constantlydenying women power. The revolution was lead by a male angel and hefailed. The revolution now lead by a woman is to save the sinking ship,we’re all going down. The other revolution occurred because a male angelgot jealous. Her intention is to save.Dawn: We talked about that on the first day of rehearsal, how importantit was to all of us that she was a woman. That is essential. That’s noarbitrary choice...lt would make me sceptical, uncomfortable and wary, ifthe angel was a man. I would me very unhappy if the play had amaleangel. I would be looking for problems. I would be looking more atreasons why he would want to overpower God. He wants Marisol to joinhim. As what? Helper?Nazgol [the actor who played Marisol]: I don’t know if I would havetrusted the angel if it was a man. It would have been too typical for a manto want to go to war. It would be an instant reaction I think.I found historic precedent for a warrior female angel difficult to trace. This wasdue in no small account to the fact that information on any female angelic figure(warrior, rebel, or otherwise) is scarce.Historian Gustav Davidson has written A Dictionary of Angels, Including theFallen Angels. In the category of “Female Angels”, he writes, “In Jewish occult lore,female angels are rare” (1 967: 112-11 3), and he makes no mention of any femaleChristian angels.Social historian John Ronner (1 985) more specifically states that while “Christianartists have often blurred sexual distinctions, showing angels as effeminate youths...before the 1200’s, angels were generally considered masculine” (1 50).62In the early Christian period, artists represented angels as wingless male youths.This was derived from scriptural precedent (Coudert 1987: 285). The angels describedin Genesis 1 8-1 9 are indistinguishable from mortal young men. For example, Abrahamwas visited by three angels who promised him a son, “He looked up and saw three menstanding near him” (Gn 18.2).Using scriptural precedent, the other alternatives were “bizarre figures, impossibleto depict” (Coudert: 285). The angels described by Ezekiel, for example, have four wingsand four faces (lion, ox, eagle, and man), calves feet, and the appearance of burningcoals of fire (Ezek 1.7-13).Up to the thirteenth century, angels were generally thought of as adolescentmales, although they were portrayed without sexual attributes. By the late Gothic period,angels came to embody ideals such as beauty, truth, love, justice, and compassion.These are qualities represented in Latin and Greek by feminine nouns, and lead to thedevelopment of a “feminine” image of angels. However, these portrayals resulted in an“extreme etherealization of angelic forms” (Coudert: 286). There was a placid, vaporousquality to these figures that differs quite dramatically from Marisol’s angel of war.However, with the rediscovery of classical art in the Renaissance, angels becameincreasingly naturalistic. Cupid became the model for angels as pudgy infants, and thestudy of classical nudes led to the portrayal of angels as robust, titanic figures, as can beseen in Michelangelo’s Last Judgement (Coudert: 286). However, these more forebodingimages retained a masculine appearance, having well developed biceps and pectorals(and a conspicuous absence of breasts).63During the Renaissance, artists found iconographic precedent for ‘robust, titanic”images, in the winged figures of greek victories such as Hermes, and, ironically, theGreek goddess of Victory, Nike. (Coudert 285; Tsuji 1967: 515).It is interestingto note that both Nike and Marisol’s angel act as winged guardiansof mortals. Nike has her own temple on the Acropolis, in Athens, and it was here that“Nike’s protection was sought by persons starting on hazardous missions” (Bell 1991:323). As well, Nike and Marisol’s angel instill in humans the courage to protectthemselves and combat their fears. In one ancient Greek work, the Bacchylides FragmentXl, Nike’s role is clearly stated: “Nike, dispenser of sweet gifts, standing beside Zeus onOlympus, bright with gold, allots to mortals and the immortals the prize of valor”(Mercatante 1988: 482).In Nike’s temple on the Acropolis, Athena, the Greek goddess of war, was alsorepresented both in relief and by statue. To ensure that Athena was a goddess associatedwith victory in war, she was often strongly identified with Nike and came to be calledAthena Nike (Bell: 323).Nike, on her own, ensured victory in a more far reaching sense. She embodiedvictory in athletic and musical contests, as well as in battle (Mercatante: 482). UsingNike as a surname, therefore, entitles figures to victory, in whatever form theirendeavours may take.In Nike, Marisol’s angel finally finds precedent, though not Christian, as acourageous woman, both winged and victorious.64Not surprisingly, on the subject of female rebel angels social historian, MalcolmGodwin (1 990) states, ‘Both Hebrew and Christian sources are notably reticent on thesubject and there is no mention of fallen females from the original rebels” (89).6The iconography of female angels was of crucial importance to Camille Sullivan,the artist who designed the angelic image appearing on the poster and programs forMarisol. The image Camille designed was a nude female angel lying dead on a cross thathad fallen to the ground.For Camille, the portrait of a dead angel revealed that this was a woman braveenough to die for what she believed in. It was important, therefore, that this figure bea warrior. Camille searched through various paintings of angels to see if she could finda model for Marisol’s angel. Not surprisingly, she came up empty handed. Camille founda lot of paintings of angels battling devils, but all were male. There were no femaleangels in battle.The only distinctly female angels Camille could find, were delicate, etherealfigures. When Camille described these paintings to me, she said, “all the female angelswere addressing Venus or something, nothing important.” Camille was insistent thatMarisol’s angel not to be a figure who was “a little weak angel dancing around, reallydoing nothing”.6 A worthy mention in this category of the “fallen female” is Lilith. In the Hebrewmystical tradition, she is a rebellious winged figure, although not considered to be an angelper Se. While she can be traced back to a Babylonian goddess, in the Jewish tradition Lilithwas the first woman created and the first wife of Adam. After refusing to lie beneath Adamduring sex, Lilith left Adam and flew away to the Dead Sea, where she became a wingedshe-demon (Patai 1990). In the Judeo-Christian tradition, “Wings” and “rebellion” are theonly parallels that can be made with Marisol’s angel, as Lilith was acting strictly on her ownbehalf, while Marisol’s angel has more far reaching concerns.65There were three versions made of Marisol’s poster. One was a stark black andwhite charcoal image, the second was produced on grey paper, and the third was framedby paper that looked like it had been crinkled up or burned at the edges.Camille liked the “crinkled” version best: “I think it’s very strong. There’s moreviolence to it. The grey was too soft, too washed out. It took away from the strength ofthe figure”.To fully communicate that this angel was an image of a strong female warrior,Camille focused on three factors.First, Camille was insistent that the angel be robust and muscular. She did notwant an ethereal waif-like image.Second, was the angel’s nudity. Due to the strong image of the angel in the play,and the lack of precedent in angel iconography, it was important to Camille that thisimage be nude. Because of her nudity, to the observer, the angel is unquestionablyfemale. As there are no clothes to cover this woman’s obvious musculature, she is alsounquestionably a strong female, indeed most capable of being a warrior. Camille states:I find a naked body stronger than a clothed one. This is a woman. To haveher in clothes would be covering up her strength, because I think womenhave been covering up their bodies, covering up their ideas for so long.The woman in this picture isn’t hiding herself.Third, it was important to Camille that this angelic figure be faceless. Richard, theplay’s director, liked this image as well, as it reminded him of the image of the tomb ofthe unknown soldier. Camille agrees: “in the play, the one angel we see, is one of66thousands that are all going to die, so many of them are going to die, it’s not just onewoman”.For Camille, this image can be applied, not only to the rebel female angels, butto all mortal women who seek to defend and fight for themselves:It’s all women who are trying to do this, trying to fight, trying to empowerthemselves, like Marisol. So really it’s representative of all women in theplay. They are willing to fight and take the consequences. Marisol is soweak at the beginning, and by the end, she’s fighting. I think women needan image that they can look to which is a strong woman, but not onewho’s given up being a woman. The angel is the strong woman, whereMarisol wants to be, and where she is, by the end of the play.The angel, therefore, serves as a model for Marisol. She is a woman who not onlyfights for herself, but fights against the oppression of others, as well. AnthropologistClifford Geertz (1 979), long maintained that religious symbols function as models of andfor human behaviour. As “models of” they represent who we desire to become, and as“models for” they represent how to achieve it.This image of the angel as a role model mirrors a description given by David Epp,the musician who composed the original score for the UBC production. David describesMarisol’s angel as “a woman of action and one who knows how to be a catalyst. Sheknows how to activate. That’s the angel’s job.”67MARISOL FINDS HER WINGSLet us now examine more closely how Marisol’s angel serves as a model of, andfor, Marisol to develop more fully her spiritual and social responsibilities. Let us take asecond journey through Marisol to elucidate more clearly how the angel serves as acatalyst for Marisol’s transformation; her rite of passage from a meek young woman, withlittle sense of her own identity, to a strong vibrant warrior for the liberation of all whosuffer the binds of social oppression.At the very beginning of the play, in the very first scene, Marisol is attacked bya man wielding a golf club. In this scene, Marisol is quite passive. She screams and fallsto the floor, and almost seems to be giving in to the inevitability that she will beattacked. Marisol is fortunate she has an angel to save her.Unfortunately, Marisol is informed by her guardian angel that she cannot rescueher anymore. The next time Marisol is attacked, it is by another stranger. A man chargesinto Marisol’s office mistaking her for Robert De Niro’s publicist. He complains that DeNiro owes him money for his work in Taxi Driver. When Marisol explains that he hasthe wrong office, the stranger becomes enraged. He lunges for Marisol and smashes icecream in her face. Again, Marisol remains quite passive. It is Marisol’s friend June, whocharges to her rescue in the nick of time, and pummels the stranger until he leaves,groaning and in agony.At the end of this scene, as the two women are leaving the office, Marisol catchesa glimpse of her guardian angel, standing in the shadows, polishing her Uzi. She ispreparing for battle.68Later that afternoon, Marl sol witnesses June get attacked by her psychotic brother,Lenny. Marisol finally shows some backbone and is the one who disarms Lenny,demanding, “Give me that knife! Give me that fucking knife!” (30). As a result of theattack, June boots Lenny out of the apartment. The scene ends with June informingMarisol: “We’ve got to stick together. This town knows when you’re alone”. Marisol isnow beginning to realize that she has to start defending herself and those she cares for.In the next scene, Marisol is packing her things and preparing to move in withJune, when Lenny comes bolting in unannounced. He is carrying a bloodied golf cluband a bouquet of flowers. Lenny, who is madly in love with Marisol, tries to convinceher to marry him. He uses some intriguing arguments to persuade her.LENNY. I want to offer you a deal. You controlled your life until now.But your life’s fucked up, honey! Big time! So I’m gonna let you give mecontrol over your life. That means I’ll do everything for you. I’ll take totalresponsibility. I’ll get a job and make money. I’ll name our children.Okay? And what you get in return.., is my protection...MARISOL. You’re asking —LENNY. A small price. Your faith. Your pretty Borinquen smile...l justwant you to look up to me. Make me big. Make me central. Praise me,feed me, and believe everything I tell you (35).Rivera once again, has utilized a rather ingenious inversion. We hear sucharguments coming out of a psychotic person and immediately respond to howpreposterous they are. How can Lenny justify such oppression with these ludicrousofferings? Then we remember these arguments were once considered common sense.This was once a very sane way of validating domestic oppression. By putting these69comments in the mouth of a demented and violent man, holding a bloodied golf cluband a bouquet of flowers, Rivera reveals just how abusive these ideals truly are.When Marisol refuses Lenny, he attempts to rape her. He strikes Marisol, pushesher onto the bed, and grabs at her clothes. In this moment, Marisol fights back in a wayshe never has before. She knees Lenny where it hurts, grabs the golf club, and swingsat him. As Lenny lies cowering on the floor, Marisol holds the golf club above her headand makes the following speech:...you will always find a way to be out there, hiding in stairwells, behinddoors, under the blankets in my bed, in the cracks of every bad dream I’vehad since I’ve known there were savage differences between girls andboys. And I’ll know you’ll always be hunting for me. And I’ll never beable to relax, or stop to look at the sky, or smile at something beautiful onthe Street (36).In this scene, Rivera is making several social commentaries. The first, is that theinsanely violent world Marisol seems to live in isn’t all that different from the world allpeople, and especially women, live in everyday. Women are constantly implored notto walk the streets alone at night, and to always be wary of strangers. They are certainlynot able to “relax, or stop to look at the sky”. One of the female crew membersempathized with this speech and stated, “When I’m walking alone, I’ll carry a knife, apocket knife, or mace, because I’m so freaked out”.Second, we are struck at the beginning of the play, by the number of locksMarisol has on her door. Ironically, the episode in which Marisol is most viciouslyattacked occurs inside her home, by someone she knows. While the situation is ironic,it is a frequent occurrence in the everyday world. Six days after Marisol opened, on70March 8, the Ubyssey carried a report by Statistics Canada that one-half of Canadianwomen have experienced an act of violence since the age of sixteen, and almost onehalf of these assaults were by men they knew. In the Vancouver Sun (March 18, 1994),Statistics Canada also revealed that married women are nine times more likely to bekilled by a spouse than by a stranger.Marie, an audience member at the UBC production, made an interestingobservation. During her marriage, Marie was the recipient of physical and sexual abuse.Throughout her marriage, Marie was also obsessed with locking the door to theirapartment. Marie focused all of her fears and trauma about the violence in her marriageon the apartment door, never stopping to consider that the danger and the violence was,in fact, inside the apartment. According to Marie, this is a very common pattern withwomen who suffer domestic abuse.This is a central theme in Marisol. We cannot simply ignore or hide away fromthe violence and malaise that plagues our society. No matter how many locks we puton our doors, and insist it’s not in our neighbourhood, not in our beautiful West Coastcity, Statistics Canada and events like the Can ucks riots reveal the rage and the violencethat is rumbling very near. Golf Club informs Marisol at the beginning of the play, wetruly cannot close our eyes “in some hopeless logic that closed eyes are a shield againstnightmares” (13). As any recipient of domestic violence will attest to, those nightmarescan be right in our homes, drinking coffee with us in the morning.In this scene with Lenny, Marisol finally begins to actively defend herself. As thenext two encounters reveal, however, she still has one more lesson to learn.71When Marisol meets Scar Tissue, this is her first face to face encounter with ahomeless person. Unfortunately, Scar Tissue isn’t just homeless, he is the victim of avicious attack.At the beginning of the play, the audience learns that groups of young NaziSkinheads have decided to “clean up” the problem of homelessness in New York bysetting homeless people on fire. Marisol, in her day to day life, would read about suchoccurrences in the newspaper. However they were so distanced from her middle classexistence that she wouldn’t “lose a minute outta my busy day” (48).Marisol has now been forced to the streets. Her home, her safe haven, is now aplace of danger. After being forced to the street, Marisol comes to know Scar Tissuepersonally. He is kind and witty, and has had an encounter with his guardian angel justlike hers. Scar Tissue is no longer a newspaper story. He is a flesh and blood humanbeing who has comforted Marisol and showed her companionship.Scar Tissue is also living, breathing, testimony to the horrors of the city, as hegraphically describes the suffering he endured at the hands of the Skinheads: “Mybubbling skin divorced my suffering nerves and ran away, looking for some coolness,some paradise, some other body to embrace! Now I smell like a barbecue! I can eatmyself!” (46).Finally, after the death of Lenny’s baby, Marisol once again meets face to facewith the plight of the homeless. A baby lived and died in Marisol’s arms and during theburial Marisol comes to find that there is an entire sidewalk filled with the bodies ofbabies who have died on the street.72It is at this point that Marisol decides she will join the rebel angelic army. Marisolhas learned to fight for herself, and she endeavours to fight for those who cannot helpthemselves, be they people she cares for, such as her best friend June, or the countlesshomeless that her middle class lifestyle has kept her separate from.Unfortunately, Marisol is killed, but she rises again to perform the finalmonologue, which reveals the decisive victory of the angelic battle. One assumes, at thispoint, that Marisol has risen to become a rebel angel herself. The final teaching from herguardian angel is complete. Discover who you are, join forces with others, and don’tgive up until the battle is won.Rivera attacks the notion that humans can abdicate responsibility for the savageworld they live in, in the hope that God will just float down one day and take it allaway. He also attacks the notion that angels, similarly, will flutter about and erase theugliness humans have perpetuated. Part of divine aid is to make mortals conscious of thesuffering they have caused one another, and to teach humans how to end this sufferingfor themselves. Mortals must learn how to clean up after their own messes.As the following discussion will reveal, Rivera’s angelology is timely and muchneeded, as current popular notions of angels, if not senile, are docile to the point ofbeing utterly ineffectual as models for humans to band together, and actively seek tomake their world a better place.73FLUFFY WHITE ANGEL WINGSCurrently, in the mass media, angels are exceptionally popular. In the U.S., a1991 Gallop poli stated that 69% of Americans believed in angels, and 32% believethey have had direct angelic contact.7Over the last year, a whole library of angel bookshave flooded the market. Book stores, such as Banyen in Vancouver, have had toestablish special “angel” sections. Time Magazine (December 1 993, 46) reported that onPublishers Weekly’s religious best seller list, five of the ten paper back books are aboutangels. The same month, Newsweek (52-53) reported that angel book sales wereapproaching five million copies. While most books pay some attention to angels inhistory, the vast majority focus on contemporary stories of individuals who have hadpersonal angelic encounters.In addition to books, there is a deluge of angel merchandise, including angelcards, calendars, diaries, dolls, and watches. One of my respondents works at aBlackberry book store, in Vancouver, and noted the proliferation of angel books, cardsand calendars. Another one of my respondents works in a Vancouver shoe store, wherethey are selling shoes that have “angel soles”. The advertising slogan is that the soles ofthe shoes are “Satan resistant”.In December of 1993, both Time and Newsweek acknowledged this surge inangelic popularity, and devoted cover stories to the issue. Newsweek (53-54) reports thatcited on, “Angels: The Mysterious Messengers,” an NBC television documentary,hosted by Patti Duke Astin on May 24, 1994.74in the U.S. there are now more than thirty speciality stores and catalog houses devotedexclusively to angel ware.Even Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman-Marcus are cashing in on the currentpopularity of angels. They have introduced a new “Angel” perfume from French clothingdesigner Thierry Mugler, “who believes everyone has a guardian angel, or can at leastsmell like one” (Newsweek, 52-53).As there are so many angel devotees, people are starting to network:The AngelWatch Network in Mountainside, N.J., monitors angelic comingsand goings in its bimonthly journal, which has 1,800 subscribers. Throughits headquarters in Golden, Cob., the 1,600 members of the AngelCollectors Club of America exchange information on everything fromangel cookie jars and postage stamps to — of course — angel-food recipes.For the technoliterate, there are computerized angel conferences. And thedevout can join prayer groups like “Philangeli,” which means “Friends ofthe Angels” (Newsweek, 52-53).In the spring of 1 994, Phil Donahue and Oprah Winfrey noted this new wave ofpopularity, and devoted entire programs to angels. On May 24, 1994, Patti Duke Astinhosted a two hour documentary style film called, “Angels: The Mysterious Messengers”.All three of these programs addressed the current popularity of angels and includedinterviews with people who have had direct angelic contact.Currently running on Broadway, is the two-part Angels in America, and a big hitin the theatres this summer is Angels in the Outfield.What is most noteworthy about the current dialogue on angels, is their kindnessand gentleness. They are primarily beings of hope and comfort. Scanning through thepopular literature, listening to testimony on Phil and Oprah, one is struck with images75of angels that embody light, serenity, and good tidings. Referring to my earlierclassification, they are guardians that act as shields, rather then swords. They protecthumanity, but do little to combat the sources of human suffering.Newsweek (56) describes the current portrayal of angels as “celestial boy scoutsor substitutes for the doting grandparents the visionaries never knew.”Nancy Gibbs, author of the Time article, describes them as “all fluff andmeringue, kind, nonjudgmental. And they are available to everyone like aspirin” (46).I have listened to the individual stories of those who have shared their angelicexperiences with the popular media, and can see a purpose to these beings of light andcomfort. The vast majority of angelic encounters currently described in books and ontelevision programs, occurred during moments of personal trauma. For example, on“Oprah”, a man was rescued by his angel when lost in a snow storm. Similarly, a girlwho was lost mountain climbing, spoke of her angelic rescue on “Donahue”.On “Angels: The Mysterious Messengers,” a man suffering from a severe illness,fearing he was going to die, was comforted by an angelic voice saying, “fear not, I amalways with you”. Another woman who was in emotional distress, felt a hand on herforehead and a voice saying “Be at peace, Helen”.Also on this program, a second man reported seeing angels while he was beingstabbed, almost to death, by a psychotic house guest. A man and a little girl, both dyingof cancer, reported having angelic visitors, who comforted them and helped them copewith terminal illness.As well, there was testimony from a young U.S. Marine corporal, Tim Altizer,who saw an angel in 1991, when he was stationed in the Persian Gulf, duringOperation76Desert Storm. This was a very frightening time for the young corporal: “I wasn’t a veryreligious person, of course everybody kinda turned real religious when we got sent outthere, to the Gulf War, because everybody was pretty much scared to death.”One night, while Tim’s battalion was being shot at, they received word over theradio, that they would be crossing over Iandmines. This was also the night Timencountered a mysterious figure.I seen something. I didn’t really know what it was. It was like a figure. Itcalled my name. It said, “Tim, everything’s goin’ be all right,” and Irealized it was an angel...it wasn’t two or three hours after the angel toldme everything was goin’ to be all right, that the war was over.When Tim described his angel, images of “soft” and “white” came to his mind:“The feeling of it was soft. It made me feel soft. It felt white [and] soft like amarshmallow. It kinda put that feeling around me.”Being thousands of miles away from home, not knowing if death is imminent, onecan certainly understand why an image of “soft” and “white” would be comforting andindeed a necessity. All humans have a need for comfort and peace, especially inmoments of trauma. There are times when we just don’t have the emotional strength topersevere, and desperately need someone, or something, to carry us through. In suchtrying times, the peaceful, benevolent angel, who is there to carry our burdens, is awelcome sight indeed.For some, there are moments when these images fulfil a psychological necessity,and the healing they bring cannot be disputed. However, there is currently, in the massmedia, an exclusive approach to angels as benign and soft. Some writers propose that77angels exist solely to make humans happy and comfortable. These angels are quitedocile when it comes to making mortals confront anything unsavoury.In her article, Gibbs quotes Eileen Freeman, who is the publisher of the newsletterAngel Watch: “Each of us has a guardian angel. They’re nonthreatening, wise and lovingbeings. They offer help whether we ask for it or not. But mostly we ignore them” (46).Gibbs responds to this quote by saying, “Only in the New Age would it bepossible to invent an angel so mellow that it can be ignored” (46).As I will demonstrate, an approach to angels as exclusively docile and benign,can foster a spiritual passivity that begets social laziness. In some circles, angels havebecome divine vessels, not for the will of God, but for the will of humans. Some writersadvocate that we need only meditate on an angel, in order to change ourselves andsociety. Taken to an extreme, this can lead to a form of passivity, that may not supportthe wrongs of society, but abdicates any responsibility for changing them. As a result,benign smiling devotees, and benign smiling angels, keep hearth and home peaceful andquiet, but do little to actively seek out and change what they are shielding from.Daniel, Wyllie, and Ramer (psychotherapist, architect, and artist, respectively) areauthors of the very popular Ask Your Angels (1 992). These writers describe a practicecalled “Do Nothing,” in which they advise an angel devotee to “Let go of control andlet the angels do all the work” (200). They name categories of angels that include “angelsas servants”, and angels as “loving friends” (44-45). In their capacity as loving friends andservants, angels will help devotees with their tax audits (there really is a section called,“The Angels and the Tax Audit”) (264). As well, “winged weight watchers” will keep the78devout from snacking between meals. If you have cravings simply “call up your angelbuddy” (285-286).On a card picturing golden-haired, rosy-cheeked cherubs, Bonnie Altenhein haswritten the following text. It is entitled, “All I need to know about life I learned from myGuardian Angel”.Angels are the guardians of hope and wonder, the keepers of magic anddreams... Your guardian angel knows you inside and out and loves youjust the way you are. Angels keep it simple and always travel light.Remember to leave space in your relationships so the angels have roomto play. Your guardian angel helps you find a place when you feel thereis no where to go. Whenever you feel lonely, a special angel drops in fortea.In startling contrast, Marisol’s angel does not travel light. She packs an Uzi. Thisis an angel who is a force to be reckoned with. Will Altenhein’s angel who drops in fortea, challenge humanity to face the human horror stories they have created? This isunlikely.Sophy Burnham is author of what is perhaps the most popular angel bookcurrently on the market, A Book of Angels. As a result, she appears on the talk showcircuit, and in all the magazine articles dedicated to angels. On “The MysteriousMessengers” program, Burnham made the following statements about the nature ofangels: “They don’t like to be seen. They want disguise. They’re not going to break inand intrude on our sense of reality, so they’ll come as visions, as voices...So that littleintuition is a little angel voice whispering”.In contrast to this notion, Gibbs writes:79According to the rest of history, anyone who invites an encounter with anangel should be prepared to be changed by it. By scriptural tradition...they issue a challenge to priorities and settled ways. One need onlyremember the modest girl from a poor family whose life was forevertransformed by the message Gabriel brought—that she would bear a sonand name him Jesus (46-48).However, the new wave of angels is not about challenges to priorities and settledways. There is an absurd notion that if we simply do not admit there is evil in ourselves,or in the world, then it will cease to exist. When Burnham instructs her readers on howto communicate with angels she writes:...you must phrase your prayer in a positive sense. For, again, the universedoes not understand the concept of “not.” There is no absence or negativein the universe, and therefore It deletes all but the active voice andpositive words.Burnham states that if a mother prays to her angel “Don’t let my baby die”, herrequest will not be answered because angels are not able to understand negative wordssuch as “don’t” and “die”. Burnham writes that an angel will only be able to respond ifa mother pleas “Let my baby live!” (Burnham: 223-224).Are we to imply from this that if a starving woman in Rowanda desperately pleas,“Don’t let my baby die”, an angel will not, and cannot, respond because the starvingwoman chose the wrong words? How unfortunate for this woman, she didn’t haveBurnham’s book on hand.Such ludicrous notions encourage social members to dismiss the reality and depthof human suffering. In their book, Meeting The Shadow (1991), writer, Connie Zweigand, Jungian analyst, Jeremiah Abrams state:80To protect us from human evil...we have only one weapon: greaterindividual awareness. If we fail to learn or fail to act on what we learnfrom the spectacle of human behaviour, we forfeit our power asindividuals to alter ourselves, and thus to save our world. Yes, evil willalways be with us. But the consequences of unchecked evil do not needto be tolerated. (XXIV).I would add, they must not be tolerated. Marisol’s angel does not come tocomfort or to tea. She comes unannounced, and forces Marisol onto the streets to seethe devastated world for herself.To be members of a just society, we must become aware of the dark, destructiveside of human nature and the suffering it causes. From this awareness, we must takeresponsible social action. To be faced, almost daily, with graphic images from Rowanda,and then to advocate that to eliminate this human disaster, one must simply notacknowledge its existence, simply not use “negative’ words, is not only naive, butwreaks of an ignorance that is utterly inexcusable.The chubby infantile cherubs that have become the dominant motif of the currentoutcrop of angels, were once the terrifying Cherubim. In Genesis (3.24), they guard theeast gates of Eden with flaming swords. In Revelation (7-8) they battle Satan.Ezekiel (1 .1 3) describes the cherubim as “burning coals of fire, like torchesmoving to and fro among the living creatures; the fire was bright, and lighting issuedfrom the fire.”In response to popular images of cherubs, Malcolm Godwin writes, “How suchmagnificent and awesome beings shrunk to the size of tubby little winged babies,fluttering prettily in the corners of Baroque ceilings, remains one of the mysteries ofexistence” (28).81I would argue that this is not such a mystery. If we can utterly define angels —as winged babies, or loving servants — then we can predict them. If we can predictangels, then we can control them, and thus abdicate any responsibility for dealing withhuman unpleasantries, ourselves. Malcolm Warford, president of Bangor TheologicalSeminary stated, “When you trade mystery for security, you end up with trivialization”(cited in Gibbs 52-52).At the back of A Book of Angels, in the section entitled “About the Author”, onediscovers:Sophy Burnham, mother of two (now grown) daughters, grew up inMaryland and after many adventures now lives in Washington, D.C.,where she derives her pleasures from her friendships, involvement withthe arts, and avoidance of politics.Burnham’s avoidance of politics is no surprise, as her theology seems to advocatean avoidance of any social action at all. Lawrence Cunningham chairman of the theologydepartment at Notre Dame has little use for a reliance on angels that promotes socialblindness. In an interview with Time he states, “if people want to get in touch with theirangels, they should help the poor. If they want to get in touch with their angels, they’dbe a lot better off working at a soup kitchen” (53).A spirituality devoted solely to meditations on benign, docile images would bepermissible if we lived in a utopic world in which we were all as healthy and happy asthe baby cherubs. Paradise, however, does not exist on the streets of Marisol. Mostimportantly, as the following interviews real, paradise cannot be found on the streets ofthe real New York City — nor on those of Vancouver.82WAKING UPAlong this journey through Marisol, I have included observations and insightsfrom the cast and crew of the UBC production, that expose the fictional world ofMarisol, as perhaps not so fictional. Testimony, most especially from Marie, reveals thatthe staged drama of Marisol and the social drama of our everyday lives, is indeedconnected.Turner would not be surprised. He refers to the relationship between the stagedand real worlds as an experience of ‘plural reflexivity”. Singular reflexivity refers to thequestions and revelations of particular characters, such as Marisol. Plural reflexivity refersto theatre’s capacity to allow characters, performers, and audience members, all to reflectupon themselves and their social worlds, simultaneously.Plural reflexivity.., differs from singular reflexivity in that it involves severalpersons in dramatic interaction. Prince Hamlet could brood on his ownmotives, but the play Hamlet reflects upon the rotteness not merely “in thestate of Denmark” but in the early modern world, as old feudal valuescame to stink in new Renaissance nostrils” (Turner 1986: 106).Without exception, everyone in the cast and crew of Marisol found the playdisturbing, and at times bone-chilling, because of how closely it resembled the realworld they lived in.Morgan Carrier, properties supervisor for Marisol, cites gang uprisings in WestAfrica and L.A. as evidence that the real world is just as violent as Marisol’s: “The L.A.gang riots are just as bad as Marisol. When that white truck driver was bludgeoned83almost to death by eight people, that makes Marisol look tame. And it’s happeningeverywhere, not just the U.S. It’s happening in Africa, China, Thailand.”Dawn Petten, the actor who played “Young Woman,” draws a similar parallel tothe social tensions in Los Angeles.I liked it when the homeless person throws rocks at the sky. It made methink a lot about the riots in L.A. The collective uprising. Things arebrewing and will erupt. There’s this undercurrent of violence. It’s growingand the situation isn’t getting better. So that revolution is a very realpossibility. L.A. riots are like slow fires starting.Allison Jenkins, properties assistant, observed that the violence in Marisol startledher into seeing how violent her own society was. “I don’t like watching violence but Idon’t think how else he [Riveral could have indicted how degenerate our society isgetting. So I didn’t find it gratuitous, it made me wince, but it was supposed to.”Nazgol stated, “I hate violence for the sake of violence. I will not sit throughexcessively violent movies. This script isn’t gratuitous. It has a message.” Similarly, Alexobserved, “The violence had a purpose in this play and that is what scared me.”Heidi Lingren, one of the stage managers stated, “Over half our cast has been toNew York and has seen things like people getting beat up for being homeless. In Seattle,a woman honked at someone who cut her off and they shot her nine year old daughter.So there is a part of Marisol that is realistic.”The majority of respondents stated that the play made them “notice things more”in their everyday world. Unfortunately, most of what they noticed was violence.Heidi: Reading the piay made me feel depressed, dismal. I felt likecrouching up and felt the world was so awful. I almost started crying at84the end, the first time I read it, because it made sense to me that this iswhat the world is like. The play isn’t glorifying violence. It’s very realistic,not exploiting it. That was what was most depressing.The two stage managers, Heidi and Niki were responsible for putting together thelobby display. The director wanted to create a world that once the audience entered,they couldn’t leave. Using this request as their starting point, Heidi and Niki, decidedto cover the walls of the lobby with the New York Times, as well as Vancouvernewspapers. Their goal was to see if they could find newspaper stories that paralleledthemes in Marisol, thus creating for the audience a blur between the staged and realworlds.In putting together the display, itself, Heidi experienced this blur first-hand. Shewas startled by how easy it was to find stories that matched Marisol’s themes, “Whatscared me was every page had something violent — wars, child abuse, pictures of deadpeople”.The piercing awareness of the parallels between the staged and real worlds didnot remain in the rehearsal studio. It followed the cast and crew home with them andinto their dreams. Many reported having nightmares during the play’s run. Severalrespondents volunteered that it became a regular occurrence during rehearsals for peopleto gather and share their nightmares. Heidi offered, “the cast and crew almost every daycame in and said ‘I had a Marisol dream last night.” Nazgol stated, “I had nightmares,we all did, we would all come in and share our nightmares”.85“GET YOURSELF SOME POWER, MARISOL”BUT WHAT KIND OF POWER?It is evident by now that Marisol, indeed, is a violent play. There are momentswhen the violence is abominable, like the torching of the homeless man by a Nazi.However, there are also scenes, perhaps even more disturbing, when the violenceappears necessary for the preservation of life. As the play’s director states, “Unfortunatelywe are living under the circumstance where it’s necessary. That’s the great sadness ofit all. That’s the great tragedy.”Seeing violence portrayed in a variety of contexts, made the cast and crew reflecton in it in ways that were at times enlightening, while at other times deeply confusing.Heidi: The play was positive about women, showed that women can fightfor themselves, and have to be wary and knowledgable that they arevulnerable no matter how hard you try. You can’t say this can’t happen tome because it can happen to you. It’s relevant to the world today becausewomen are starting to realize, with self-defence courses, that there’s achoice.For some people however, this “choice” is not quite so cut and dried. NazgolDeravian, the actor who played Marisol, despises guns, and any thought of having to usethem. Nazgol was born in Iran, and spent part of her childhood there: “It could havegiven me more of a sensitivity to guns. I remember seeing bullets fired in the air andbombs, and we would have to put aluminum foil on the windows to block out lightsduring the bombing”.86Marisol made Nazgol confront the issue of whether or not she could actually usea gun:I just don’t like guns, I don’t like the implications. I understand there aretimes when they can come in handy, because if I was being attacked andthere was a gun beside me, who knows what would happen. Right now,I would say I would never shoot at anybody. It’s like that moment inMarisol when she swings the golf club at Lenny. She probably neverthought that she would do that.Nazgol, here, is articulating a sentiment shared by other members of the cast andcrew. How to deal with the fact that there appears, at times, to be a necessity forviolence. Allison stated, “Women being violent didn’t bother me. What bothered me wasthat the violence was necessary. That was the creepiest part of the play for me, thereally, really, brutal part.”As musician, David Epp stated, it is imperative that individuals have an “iota ofself-preservation.” However, where does one draw the line between “self-defense” andan inappropriate, deplorable use of violence and aggression?Dawn: There are two sides to myself where sometimes I think I could kiJisomeone who attacked me, and sometimes I don’t.Kirstn [the actor who played June]: I don’t think things should be donewith force. It’s a contradiction, but there are occasions when you’ve gotto stand up and fight. It’s a tough issue. With Loreena Bobbit, somewomen were cheering, but there has to be a limit. You don’t mutilatesomeone. That’s wrong. But some women in the Bronx really do have tokill their husbands. That’s another contradiction.87This is a complex issue. There are no easy answers. The pressing concern oframpant violence in our society is a social ill that needs to be pulled apart, and viewedfrom as many perspectives as possible.To expand on this point, a paradox about violence and gender was revealed bymy respondents in two stories they shared with me. Five people volunteered a storyabout the first day the guns were brought in for rehearsal. They were real guns, rentedfrom a local armoury (unloaded of course). As soon as Ken Hol lands, Marisol’s technicaldirector, walked into the rehearsal space, several of the male crew members ran to theguns with excitement, and began to play with them. Not one woman participated.When Alex described this story to me, he concluded:I bought into it. In our society boys are trained to be killers. I was a TVbaby, and it really influenced me in terms of training. That’s why I find itdisgusting all the games of violence for kids. I don’t glorify guns. I knowhow destructive they are. I was wondering how to use them for effect. Ididn’t point a gun at anyone. You don’t do that. But I have been mouldedby my society. I bought into that. If you say you didn’t, that’s bullshit.Another interesting story came from Kirstn Hawson. She played June, andobserved the effect beating another character up every night (even though it wasmocked) had on her consciousness.Doing the fight with Ice Cream, the first time I did it, it really worked. Ihad a surge of adrenalin and it gave me a real insight into why people kill,and why people kill repeatedly. You get high off it and that’s scary. It’slike being a cocaine addict. You never get the same first high, but you’restruggling to recapture it. My heart was racing and I felt energized. Peopleget addicted to adrenalin. If I was having a bad night, I would wait for thefight scene and then I would know the adrenalin would kick in, even if Ididn’t want it to, and that’s scary.88Through this experience, the actor learned that regardless of her biology, violencecan induce an illusion of power that is just as “addictive” and destructive as it is inmales.Inherent in the play, itself, Rivera’s characters elucidate that issues concerninggender and violence are in fact very complicated.Most definitelya lot of violence is gendered. Similar to Marisol’s speech to Lenny,there really are male predators who “find a way to be out there, hiding in stairwells,behind doors, under the blankets”. Statistics Canada revealed that between 1 974 and1992, “1,435 women were slain by a spouse” yet, during the same period, “451 menwere killed by a spouse”.8Niki, who walks the streets with a knife and mace for protection, mirrorsMarisol’s statements, “And I know you’ll always be hunting for me. And I’ll never beable to relax, or stop to look at the sky, or smile at something beautiful on the Street.”Perhaps as Lenny states, referring to his pregnancy, “Every man should have thisexperience. There’d be fewer wars” (52).However, it cannot be forgotten that June becomes a Nazi. While this is afictional character, there are women who support and participate in Hate Groups. Itappears that despite their biology, not all women are peacekeepers and non-violent. TheNazi element also brings in racial issues that must be addressed when examiningviolence in our society.8 Vancouver Sun, March 18, 1994.89Then there is the issue of what is just violence? We cannot help but supportMarisol for physically and aggressively defending herself against Lenny’s attempted rape.We cannot help but champion an angel who will risk her life to stop a god fromallowing the cosmos to self-destruct.Yet we are also faced with Lenny’s words. With his arms wrapped around hisexpanding belly he informs Marisol “This is power. This is energy...One body. Twosurging hearts! That’s a revolution! (52-53). It is imperative that we focus attention onprecious, fragile life; the very future of our species. The world would truly be a betterplace without wars and violence, and the death and destruction they bring.In her book, Fire With Fire (1 993), feminist scholar, Naomi Wolf, approaches thisconundrum with her discussion of the 1991 film, Thelma and Louise. This film wascriticized by some for its famous shotgun blast at the rapist, and the scene in whichThelma and Louise blow up the truck of a man who harasses them. Wolf asserts that thisfilm was important for women on a metaphoric level. She states that many femaleaudience members: “were not applauding the violence itself... They were cheering thepublic affirmation of the part of themselves that was not content to just take it, whatever“it” might be, in silence any longer” (38).Wolf firmly asserts: “If you are a warrior for your rights, you must accept thatsome interests and people should lose. It’s okay to harm a rapist in order to escape; it’sokay to embarrass a discriminatory employer” (Wolf 288). Dawn had a similar reactionIt is interesting to note that Wolf contrasts these statements with what she terms the“Angel in the House” ideology—a means for definingthe ideal female as domestic, passive,and unconditionally accommodating (167).90to Marisol. She stated, “With pregnant Lenny, Rivera is saying fight back, not necessarilywith violence. Use whatever you have. You can yell. That’s spoken violence. Get powerhow you can.”Inversions are a veiling that permit a certain seeing. They make certain factorsstand out with a clarity that in the everyday world, they would not have.When confronted with a Native female warrior, we cannot rely on Lucifer’sprecedent. We must deal with the very real desire of the oppressed to refuse to allowthemselves, and others, to be brutalized in the everyday world, time and time again.However, when faced with a female Nazi, we cannot rely on our familiarcategories of the male aggressor. We are forced to deal with the ugliness of racialviolence itself.When confronted with a pregnant man, we cannot drift dreamily into familiarnotions of the maternal female. Instead we are faced squarely with the miracle andfragility of the new life that breathed its first and last breaths in Marisol’s arms, and how,if we are not careful, both men and women, life can be extinguished as quickly as it wascreated.Turner states that the liminal phase can reveal the “same message,” in this case,violence in our society, in a variety of guises. This creates “a set of subtly variantmessages”.The result is something of a hall of mirrors—magic mirrors, eachinterpreting as well as reflecting the images beamed to it, and flashed fromone to the others. The many-levelled or tiered structure of a major ritualor drama, each level having many sectors, makes of these genres flexibleand nuanced instruments capable of carrying and communicating manymessages at once (Turner 1 986: 24).91Symbolic inversions may not give concrete answers, but at least they make usaware of the complexities involved. These are not simple issues, and they cannot beresolved with naive statements such as Marisol’s to Golf Club, “Why don’t you just geta job!” (13), and her similar remarks to Lenny, “Maybe you should stop pretendingyou’re pregnant and find a job” (52).To tackle our social ills, we must first be armed with awareness. Rivera is sayingkeep your eyes open; remain active and aware. These are not comfortable subjects, butwe must keep tackling them; pulling them apart. We must keep trying to understand.They are unpleasant to confront, but they must be dealt with before we in fact create ourown apocalypse.What I found most disturbing about the newspaper articles displayed in the lobby,were how many of them combined violence and children:Headline: “Baby-Killings” Add Twist To Sex Selection Debate.“Just family planning, Hong Kong clinic claims.”(New York Times, February 27, 1994.)Headline: PLO Offers Israel Compromise Deal.“Palestinians propose joint control border crossings...Young Palestinians[who didn’t look more than 10 or 11 years old] throw stones at Israelisoldiers posted on the roof on a building during clashes in Gaza City,yesterday, while negotiations continued in Oslo, to salvage peace accord.”(Globe and Mail, December 20, 1993.)Headline: 407 Squadron Members Head For Bosnia.“Playtime: children play with ball on street in Sarajevo Sunday, whereSerbian shells landed recently.”(Globe and Mail, December 20, 1993.)92Headline: Kurdish Refugees Safe Now, But Homeland Horrors Remain.“Safe Shelter: Ibrahim Au, 3, stares out the window from his home safefrom his war-torn homeland of Iraq.’(Vancouver Sun, October 28, 1993.)Humanity has created this reality for children. It is not until Lenny’s baby dies,and Marisol discovers that there is a whole sidewalk full of babies who have died on thestreet, that Marisol reaches her final revelation. It is not until she recognizes that ourfuture as a species is in dire threat, that Marisol realizes she must join forces with all ofthe oppressed, thus bringing new metaphoric insight into Lenny’s words, “One body.Two surging hearts! That’s a revolution!” (53). As humans if we sit around waiting forsomeone, anyone, to simply eliminate our problems for us, an apocalypse will, in fact,eliminate us.93AT THE RIM OF THE APOCALYPSEWhile they are troubled and confused by the complexities of the ills of society,it was unanimous among my respondents that humans must take their responsibility forallowing them to perpetuate. Niki stated, “Things are worsening—the environment,violence, kids with drugs and guns, we’re killing ourselves”.Dawn: In a lot of the scenes the objective was to wake each other up. Itwas a call to action and a call to wake up, go out on the Street and seethis stuff, live it if you have to. I’ve worked at battered women’s shelters,so I have rage for that situation, It woke me up. It was the trumpet for me.The apocalypse is more likely to come if we keep pressing the lid down;if we don’t admit that these things are happening.Heidi stated that during the production, there were several “big philosophicaldiscussions about God in the lighting booth.” By the end of the production, everyoneexonerated God from being the actual cause of the apocalypse.Richard: We can’t blame God for the position that the world is existing in.And when he’s [Rivera] suggesting that we revolt against God, wellobviously that’s not likely to happen. It’s to revolt against the idea of Godas somehow accepting our sins for us, and then we go on sinning. He’srejecting that. We have created our own nightmares, and we have to dealwith them, ourselves. God is not going to come down and create theapocalypse. We’re already doing it.Alex: You’ve got to be responsible in your religion, rather than let religionbe responsible for you. Do unto others.Dawn: The message of the play is a call to action, take your own faith,your own responsibility, don’t lay the guilt or blame on God.94Several respondents made the very insightful remark that they feel theirgeneration, more than any other, must become conscious and active in their socialresponsibilities. World media coverage is more intensive than it ever used to be. Wecannot claim ignorance when so many of the atrocities of our world are right under ourfingertiPS.Camille: Partly I think it’s getting worse and partly, it’s just more open.Stuff that’s been going on in women’s lives has been going on forever. Justnow, it’s like a big new thing, women actually get beaten in marriage, likethat’s never happened before. You hear about more violence. I don’t thinkit’s that people are getting worse. It’s all right there now in front ofeveryone to deal with.David: This play dug deep and exposed things in many metaphors. Thereis a lot of violence. We live with violence, you hear about it on the news,in the paper, and we have to get out of denial.Celeste: Today is a time of upheaval and change, so many civil wars. It’sthe age of information. We know the atrocities of wars going on now.Whether we choose to do something about it or not is the revolution.Your eyes are open, now what will you do?In Meeting The Shadow, Zweig and Abrams make similar comments:Today we are confronted with the dark side of human nature each timewe open a newspaper or watch the evening news..Our era has madeforced witness of us all. The whole world is watching. There is no way toavoid the frightening spectre of ... conniving politicians, white-collarcriminals and fanatic terrorists. Our inner desire to be whole — now mademanifest in the machinery of global communication — forces us to face theconflicting hypocrisy that is everywhere today (Zweig & Abrams: XX).This is one of the most striking themes in Marisol — opening our eyes to what isoften right in front of us. More sophisticated media coverage has made “forced witnessesof us all”, now what will we do? Unfortunately, as Alex states:95We all turn a blind eye when it’s convenient. When we don’t, it becomesvery inconvenient. And it’s easier to turn a blind eye in a big city becauseyou don’t know the people. There’s no connection with the people.Marisol made me realize when we can’t give change to a beggar on Street,what do we mean when we say we’re sorry?Human malaise is not only global, it is right in our “lotusland” Vancouver. Rightunder our very noses are human atrocities that do not fall into our tidied, structuredsocial alignments. Vancouver’s streets are crowded with homeless, and many of themare very, very young. As Jung stated, We have in all naiveté forgotten that beneath ourworld of reason another lies buried. I do not know what humanity will still have toundergo before it dares to admit this’ (cited in Zweig & Abrams: XXIII). In liminality, weare often forced into realms that sanitized social policy does not always account for.When I asked Nazgol if her life was impacted in any way by Marisoi, her answerwas a resounding “Yes.”Through her work as Marisol, Nazgol, similar to the character she played,developed a closer identity with her cultural heritage. Nazgol is Persian. She was bornin Iran and spent her early childhood there. Nazgol’s Iranian ancestry was something sheused to be quite inhibited about. She has memories of her early days in Canada in whichchildren in the playground taunted her, and called her a “terrorist”. Nazgol identifiedwith Marisol’s amputation of her cultural heritage and, as a result of this play, has begunto feel more of a sense of pride and identity in her Persian roots. Of her scenes with“Young Woman,” Nazgol affirmed, “those lines, every night, it meant a lot to me to saythat.”96Nazgol also used to have visions of her own personal guardian angel named“Margaret”. During this play, Margaret informed Nazgol that she was leaving her.Margaret revealed that as Nazgol was developing a stronger sense of her own identityand individuality, she would no longer be needing the presence of her guardian angelin such an immediate sense. Nazgol confides, “I don’t know if that visitation was real.It could be my imagination. But if it is, that’s great. I have a great imagination! Even ifit’s part of your imagination, it’s telling you something.”From her experience as Marisol, Nazgol has discovered her ability to protest.She’s not sure what form it will take — physical, verbal, psychological — but there is,however, to reiterate Wolf’s words, a sense with Nazgol that she isn’t “not going to takeit anymore, whatever it may be”.Nazgol: As a person the image I am left with is the final revolution. I ammuch more aware that I am responsible too, that I can make a difference,I can make changes. I’ve gone through life thinking it’s not my problem.More than anything Marisol has reinforced that I can have a voice, that Idon’t need to be quiet about it.At first, Stefany Mathias, who played Marisol’s angel, was deeply troubled by herrole. Stefany is a Native American from British Columbia. She found herselfprocrastinating from her work in the play, and not giving it her best effort. Stefanydiscovered that she had unconscious blocks, impeding her work. Stefany became aware,through the rehearsal process, that she was very distressed at the notion of having to slayGod. This made Stefany deeply reflect upon her own sense of spirituality, something shehad never done before: “I was surprised [slaying God] bothered me because I was not97a particularly religious person. The problem was that I didn’t acknowledge to myself thatI was a spiritual person, and that this role was disturbing for me.”Stefany’s family participates in both Catholic and Native American religioustraditions. Stefany has always been uncomfortable with Catholicism, particularly becauseit is lacking in opportunities for female leadership. Stefany asserts:There are things in religion that need to be changed, that’s why I chosenot to get baptized. In my family, women are powerful, so it’s hard tograsp the low status women have in the Church. In Native culture, thereare medicine women and men, and often the women are more powerful.As a Native, it was hard to grasp Catholicism.Through her work in the play, Stefany discovered the importance of a religiousheritage that combines Roman Catholicism and traditional Native beliefs. She gave mean example of this by describing a dream she had before participating in Marisol. In thedream, Stefany saw her “guardian angel”. It was a white thunderbird that transformedinto an old woman when it landed on the ground. Stefany believes that the colour whitewas inspired by her Christian heritage, and the thunderbird and old woman came fromher Native background.Stefany concluded that as a result of her work in Marisol, she believes it is morelikely that the Church is senile, rather than God.The play really affected my life. It made me question religion and myspirituality a lot. Before the play, if someone asked me if I was spiritual,I would say “no”. Now, I would say “yes”. Until I did the play, I didn’tknow this. It was like a spiritual awakening.98Marisol has proved to be a true rite of rebellion, as it resulted in challenges to“priorities and settled ways”. Marisol’s implicit social criticism lead the cast and crewthrough a series of transformations. For some, the play made them notice more clearlythe greater concerns of the society they lived in, as well as their own responsibility foraffecting social change. For others, such as Nazgol and Stefany, the play lead to a deepintrospection, uncovering aspects of their culture and spirituality, they had left buriedand unresolved.99ANGEL OF FIREIn Marisol, angels are beings of transformation. They are catalysts. Angels ignitefires and are, themselves, firelike. All of the angels in Marisol are similar to beings offire. When the angel first encounters Marisol, Rivera writes, “Marisol feels thetremendous heat given off by the Angel. The Angel backs away from Marisol so as notto burn her” (16).When David composed the music that was to accompany Marl sol’s angel, he wasinspired by images of heat: “Heat was associated with the angel. Remember when theangel went up to Marisol, and touched her for the first time? The music changed, andthat was heat. And the next day, when Marisol was recalling the angel, I had the samemusic come up again.”Golf Club and Scar Tissue have similar descriptions of their angels:GOLF CLUB. ...she folded her hot silver angel wings (13).SCAR TISSUE. I kept hearing Jimi Hendrix in my middle ear as those lips,like two brands, nearly melted me (46).Recall that in the popular media, the current incarnation of angels are oftendescribed as beings of white and light. They have lost their ability to challenge humansso that they may grow beyond established and familiar ways, no matter how destructivethey may be.Historically, angels have not been so muted. Recall that in Genesis Cherubimguarded Eden with flaming swords. There was an unknowable, unpredictable aspect to100angels that made them terrifying, as they were not enslaved by the human will. This isas it should be. Human nature often prefers a path of comfort and oblivion to the pathof truth.It is easy to control and even escape from light. One need only put on a pair ofsunglasses, or close the blinds. Fire, however, cannot be ignored. A wake up call canonly be issued by a being of fire. We can close our eyes to the light, but it is useless toclose our eyes to fire.Rather than beings of white and light, historically, angels were often describedas beings of fire.Recall Ezekiel (1.13), where angels were described as “burning coals of fire, liketorches moving to and fro among the living creatures; the fire was bright, and lightingissued from the fire.”The Seraphim, one of the nine choirs of angels, were popularly known as the“fiery, flying serpents of lightning” who “roar like lions” (cited in Godwin 25). DionysiusAreopagite asserted that the name, “Seraphim” means “those that burn” and “those thatwarm” (cited in Giovetti 47-48).The prophet Isaiah saw flaming angels above the Throne of God (Godwin 25).Revelation (14.18) speaks of the angel of the heavenly altar “who has authority overfire.”It is interesting to note that while most scholars refer to the Greek etymology of“angel”, it’s earliest etymological origin may be the sanskrit, Angiras. They were thedivine descendants of Agni, the Hindu God of fire, who was considered to be the firstAngiras. As descendants of Agni, the Angiras were “celestial phenomenon and fires01adapted to particular occasions, [such] as the full moon or change of the moon”1°(Practical Sanskrit-English Dictionary, 2nd ed.).In the Old Testament, Yahweh, as well, was considered to be firelike: “The Lordspoke with you face to face at the mountain, out of the fire.” (Deuteronomy 5.4). Exodusrecounts that “Yahweh went in front of them...in a pillar of fire by night” (13.21).As they are like fire, angels are beings of transformation. Gustav Davidson thusdescribes a 1947 painting by Russian artist Marc Chagall: “One of Marc Chagall’scelebrated oils is his apocalyptic Angel of Fire or Flaming Angel (the canvas is titled“Descent of the Red Angel”) that plunges from Heaven on a peaceful and unsuspectingworld, and shatters it” (29).This is an image reminiscent of Jeremiah (23.29), “Is not my word like fire, saysthe Lord, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?”.The angel of fire breaks us away from established structure, and plunges us intoanti-structure. She forces us away from what is safe and familiar, so that we may delveinto the unknown. In this capacity, the angel ignites our ability to create anew.Fire, therefore, has the abilityto both destroy and create. Fire can burn somethingto ashes, and yet the heat it releases is essential to the gestation of life. Eggs must bewarmed before they hatch.Likewise, in Marisol, fire is used to both destroy and create. When used inblindness, fire becomes a means through which mortals judge and punish one another.° The being of fire associated with the “change of the moon,” certainly parallels nicelywith Marisol’s angel.102There is a federally funded torture center for New Yorkers who have gone overon their credit card limit. Lenny testifies, “It happens late at night. But you can hear thescreams. They cremate the bodies. That’s why Brooklyn smells so funny” (27).As well, Neo-Nazis have decided to “purify” the country by setting homelesspeople on fire. It is the New York version of ethnic cleansing. Rivera writes:Skinhead crosses the stage again, with a can of gasoline, chasing thefrightened Homeless Person...The Homeless Person falls. The Skinheadpours the gasoline on the Homeless Person and lights a match. There’s ascream as the Homeless Person burns to death. Marisol covers her ears soshe can’t hear (47).Scar Tissue was a homeless man who survived one such assault and describes itto Marisol, “Now I smell like a barbecue! I can eat myself! I can charge money forpieces of my broiled meat!” (46).This is fire used in blindness; fire utilized in a vicious attempt to avoid facingwhat is uncomfortable, and what often forces us to grow as human beings.SKINHEAD. (Furious, to Homeless Person.) I mean, why can’t they justgo AWAY? I mean okay, if you people want to kill yourselves, fine, do it:kill yourselves with your crack and your incest and your promiscuity andyour homo anal intercourse ... just leave me to take care of myself and myown. Leave me to my gardens. I’m good on my acres of green grass. Goddistributes green grass in just the right way! Take care of your own. Takecare of your family. If every body did that...l swear on my gold CitibankMastercard...there wouldn’t be any problems, anywhere, in the nextmillennium (47).Fire represents a plague that is ravaging a society so corrupt, it has begun to selfdestruct. At the beginning of the play, the angel warns, “The universal body is sick,103Marisol... the nauseous stars are full of blisters and sores, the infected earth is runninga temperature.”MARISOL. It’s like the universe is senile, June. Like we’re at the part ofhistory where everything breaks down. Do you smell the smoke? (Thelights begin subtly to go down. June notices the darkness right away. Shelooks at her watch.)JUNE. Wait! It’s nine-thirty! They’re expecting the smoke from thatmassive fire in Ohio to reach New York by nine-thirty. (June and Marisollook out the window. The lights go darker and darker.) Jesus! Those area million trees burning! (24).Seeing the death and destruction that the humans are waging on one another, anda God who does nothing about it, the angel believes that the only way to stop themadness is to burn everything down and start from the beginning.ANGEL. A man is worshipping a fire hydrant on Taylor Avenue, Marisol.He’s draping rosaries on it, genuflecting hard... They’re setting anotherhomeless man on fire in Van Cortlandt Park... I swear, best thing thatcould happen to this city is immediate evacuation followed by fire on amassive scale. Melt it all down. Consume the ruins. Then put the ashes ofthose evaporated dreams into a big urn and sit the urn on the desks of afew thousand oily politicians. Let them smell the disaster like we do (1 7).The angel’s frustration is reminiscent of Luke (12.49) who reports Jesus saying: “Ihave come to bring the fire down to earth, and how I wish it were kindled already.”Fire is often utilized in Scripture as a means for divine punishment: “The LordAlmighty will take vengeance on them in the day of judgment; he will send fire andworms into their flesh; they shall weep in pain forever” (Judith 16.1 7). The same themeappears in Malachi (3.1 9): “See, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all thearrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up.”104While fire can be a means of punishment, it can also unleash intense creativepossibilities. Fire can be a means of purification, destroying what is corrupt, and makingclear what is whole and precious. Historian James Latham states, “the fire of the Lorddoes not only destroy, it also tests and purifies. Just as precious metals must be purifiedby fire, so must man” (1982: 235).Everything that can withstand fire, shall be passed through fire, and it shallbe clean (Numbers 31.23).But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when heappears? For he is like a refiner’s fire (Malachi 3.2).And I will put this third into the fire, refine them as one refines silver, andtest them as gold is tested (Zechariah 1 3.9).In I Corinthians, Paul says fire will test the quality of everyone’s work.the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it,because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort ofwork each has done. If what has been built on the foundation survives, thebuilder will receive a reward. If the work is burned up, the builder willsuffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire (1 Cor 3.13-15).Latham states that symbols such as fire not only have an ambivalent quality, buttheir capacity for good or evil is often derived from one and the same practical use:“Burning fire will destroy impurities, either to leave true gold, or nothing, if the wholeis evil” (Latham: 74). Thus, in Marisol, awareness and responsible social action must bekindled; ignorance and oppression must be burned.Latham concludes that the dual quality of fire is an inherent characteristic of the“sacred”.105There are thus two poles, which belong to most sacred substances, thepessimum and optimum. A symbol can be dangerous as a well as salvic;a notion corresponding to the double aspect of the sacred: fear and divineaid. This is particularly true of such dynamic vehicles as fire and salt, bothof which produce change (240).Latham mentions salt in conjunction with fire as a vehicle for the sacred. It isinteresting to note that salt is also a pervasive symbol in Marisol. Excerpts from thefollowing two scenes reveal that both angels and mortals use salt as a means ofpunishment:ANGEL. When racist motherfuckers ran you out of school at ten,screaming...MARISOL. (In her sleep.) ... “kill the spik ...“ANGEL. ...l turned the monsters into little columns of salt (1 9).When June forces Lenny to move out of their apartment, she threatens to cursehim with salt.JUNE. This is not a transition, Leonard. This is a break. A severing. So getup. Collect your mutant trash. Give me your fucking keys. Leave rightnow. And don’t look back at me or I’ll turn you to salt right where youstand with my eyes, so help me God (31).All of the food and water in New York has been infested by salt, symbolizing themoral sterility of the world. Marisol asks her angel, “Why do cows give salty milk?” (18).Later in the play, Marisol learns that milk isn’t the only once nourishing substance thathas been vanquished by salt:MARISOL. It’s just salt insidethere...justsalt...lt’s notan apple! It’s notfood!106LENNY. (Devours the apple and tries to keep from crying.) There isn’t asingle food group in the world that isn’t pure salt anymore! Where thefuck have you been?! (52).As excerpts from the following three scenes reveal, moral sterility is combinedwith spiritual barrenness, as salt also represents the death of angels.[Marisol reads from a manuscript on her deski “...salt is in the food andmythology of cultures old and new. Ancient writers believed that angelsin heaven turned into salt when they died. Popular mythology holds thatduring the Fall of Satan, angels who were killed in battle fell into theprimordial ocean, which was then fresh water. Today, the oceans aresalted by the decomposed bodies of fallen angels...” (25).JUNE. I hear the water in the Central Park reservoir is salty ‘cause angelsare falling outta the sky, Marisol (54).MARISOL. The oceans are salty with rebel blood (58).Salt and fire can combine as symbols of transformation. Having salt rubbed in awound produces pain (often a burning sensation). Pain leads to consciousness; it keepsus aware of our wounds and our suffering. To use Marisol’s words, salt in our woundsmakes it more difficult to “amputate neat sections” of our psyches. As well, due itscapacity to soak up blood, salt can speed the healing of wounds and help preventinfection. Salt is a symbol of both healing and destruction. Either way, it istransformative.ANGELS IN AMERICAThere is, indeed, historical precedent for angels as beings of transformation. Intheir contemporary manifestation, however, Marisol’s angel is truly rare.107It is interesting to note that in 1 993, Marisol and Tony Kushner’s play, Angels inAmerica: Millennium Approaches11,were both in production in New York (Angels inAmerica was making its Broadway debut). While both plays have similar themes, therole played by the angels, is decidedly different.Angels In America also takes place in New York City. There is a central angelicfigure who announces to a mortal, Prior Waiter, that the apocalypse is near. She revealsthat God has abandoned humankind. Mortals have been weaving a web of corruption,and God has vacated the heavens, leaving humanity to self-destruct.Similar to Marisoi, the human species is held responsible for the apocalypse, andKushner explicitly attacks the major social ills of our time — homophobia, environmentaldegradation, racism, sexism. “I’ll show you America,” one character concludes.“Terminal, crazy and mean” (p.96).Kushner further blurs the staged and real worlds with the following dialogue:Prior: Imagination is a dangerous thing.Harper: In certain circumstances, fatal. It can blow up in your face, If itturns out to be true. Threshold...Prior and Harper: ...of revelation (70-71 b).New York City is the boiling point, the center of American chaos and destruction.Joe. I’m going to hell for doing this.Louis. Big deal. You think it could be any worse than New York City?Angels in America is a combination of two plays: Millennium Approaches, and itssequel, Perestroika.108As a result, the apocalypse is near. A character by the name of Ethel Rosenberg,observes, “History is about to crack wide open. Millennium approaches” (11 2a). This isvery similar to Marisol who warns June, “We’re at the part of history where everythingbreaks down” (24). Later, Marisol states, “I’m against the wall. I’m at the rim of theapocalypse” (48).In Kushner’s play, there is a sense that the world is so hopeless, it will need tobe torn down before anything vital can be created. One character mourns, “I pray forGod to crush me, break me up into little pieces and start all over again.” (49a).This play also utilizes similar images of salt and fire.CALEB. Will the desert flow with milk and honey? Will there be waterthere?HARPER. Oh, there’s a big lake but it’s salt, that’s the joke...FATHER. The Lord will provide for us, son, he always has.ORRIN. Well, not always...HARPER. ...they drag you on your knees through hell and when you getthere the water of course is undrinkable. Salt. It’s a Promised Land, butwhat a disappointing promise! (66b).Fire will be the vehicle to finally purge America of its ills, and force mortals toface the disasters they have created.Harper. Water won’t ever accomplish the end. No matter how much youcry. Flood’s not the answer, people just float...Fire’s the answer. The Greatand Terrible Day. At Last (101 b).109Revelation is painful and there is a tendency for humans to try as much aspossibJe to avoid or sugar coat that which makes them uncomfortable. There is a sensethat humanity has become so used to closing its eyes to the problems of society, that itwill take drastic cosmic measures to make them do otherwise.MORMON MOTHER. God splits the skin with a jagged thumbnail fromthroat to belly and then plunges a huge filthy hand in, he grabs hold ofyour bloody tubes and they slip to evade his grasp but he squeezes hard,he insists, he pulls and pulls till all your innards are yanked out and thepain! We can’t even talk about that. And then he stuffs them back, dirty,tangled and torn. It’s up to you to do the stitching.HARPER. And then get up. And walk around.MORMON MOTHER. Just mangled guts pretending.HARPER. That’s how people change.MORMON MOTHER. I smell a salt wind.HARPER. From the ocean.MORMON MOTHER. Means he’s coming back. Then you’ll know. Thenyou’ll eat fire (79b).Unfortunately, God, in this play, isn’t coming back. The cosmos is going to haveto learn how to look after itself. The message of Angels In America is that people muststop running away from their problems. Just as God abandoned humankind, humans arecontinually abandoning each other in the name of race, class, sex, and sexualorientation. Running away from problems is a form of blinding oneself to them. Kushnerattacks the notion that if you run from something you can’t see it, and if you can’t seeit, it isn’t there. This is similar to Marisol’s theme of holding each individual responsiblefor ‘waking up” and facing the disasters that plague humankind.110The one significant difference between the two plays, is the role of the angels. Inboth plays, angels deliver similar revelations to specific mortals. However, in Angels InAmerica, the angels are docile, ineffectual beings. They make pleas to humanity to bringGod back because they have no idea how to do it, themselves. Angels can only act ifthey are given orders. Kushner’s angels mirror the popular image of angels as mereconduits for other people’s desires. They are utterly controllable, with no threat offorcing anyone to wake up to untold realities, be they glorious or terrifying. Whencharacter, Prior Walter, describes the angels to himself, it is uncanny how much theymuch resemble current portraits of angels in the popular media.Prior. ...they’re basically powerful bureaucrats, they have no imagination,they can do anything but they can’t invent, create, they’re sort of fabulousand dull all at once.[to this the angel responds]Angel. Made for His Pleasure, We can only ADORE (49b).Having to live with such docile, flaccid creatures is one of the reasons God left.The Angel explains:He began to leave us!Bored with His Angels, Bewitched by Humanity,In Mortifying Imitation of You, his least creation,He would sail off on Voyages, no knowing where.Quake follows quake,Absence follows Absence (50-51 b).In Kushner’s play, there is a total abandonment of the divine. God has abandonedhumankind and humans have no desire to see him return, or replace him with anyone111else. God is a juvenile clone of humankind, and angels are empty (very empty) vessels.Without someone to tell them what to do, they are nothing.Rivera, on the contrary, has a far more sophisticated angelology. Rivera does notadvocate that the woes of humanity will be obliterated if we likewise abandon God, orliterally venture up to Heaven and kill him. If this was the case, the final scene ofMarisol would have depicted a white-haired character suffering from an advanced caseof Altziemer’s, slain mercilessly in his sick bed. This, however, was not the case.We hear of an angelic revolution won only when heaven and earth unite. Thefinal image, is Marisol and her angel standing together, holding the crown out to theaudience, symbolizing this union. The final words we hear are “What possibilities. Whathope.” (58).Rivera acknowledges that humanity creates religious traditions in its own likeness.Outmoded, senile social policy validates a weary, ineffectual god. However, Rivera alsoleaves wide open the possibility that the divine in fact transcends our limited structuralawareness. The angel of fire and transformation reveals that there is an active dialoguebetween humans and the divine. We may not always listen, we may try to impose ourrational egoistic ideas on the sacred, but the lines of communication are never broken.If we have the courage to enter into realms that are uncomfortable, realms of theunknown; if we attempt to pull back the curtain on that which we do not understand,we may happen upon the creative fire — and indeed find wisdom.112In Rivera’s text, it is significant to note that while Marisol is sleeping, the angelenters her room on a ladder.12 This is reminiscent of the story of Jacob’s ladder inGenesis (28.10-1 7).Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certainplace and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking oneof the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in thatplace. And he dreamt that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the topof it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending anddescending on it. And the Lord stood beside him and said, “I am the Lord,the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac... Know that I amwith you and will keep you wherever you go and will bring you back tothis land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promisedyou.Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in thisplace — and I did not know it!...How awesome is this place! This is noneother than the house of God, and this is the gateway of heaven.”In A Gathering of Angels (1994), Rabbi Morris B. Margolies states: “The angelsascending and descending is at the core of Jacob’s vision, telling him that life is twodirectional...that even when you hit the bottom rung of the ladder, you are still in thecompany of angels” (26).The ladder is an important symbol. As we journey through Marisol’s rite ofpassage we learn that the angel does not in fact abandon her. She provides a model forMarisol to become a stronger more aware person, and teaches ultimately with her words,“join us,” that it is only through the union of humans and the divine that a better worldcan be created.Recall Psalms (91.11-13) in which the role of guardian angels is described:12 Due to structural and economic complications, the UBC production used a verticalsteel pipe, with three steel rungs.113For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all yourways. On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dashyour foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder, theyoung lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.While angels are there to guide and enlighten humanity, they can also inspire ourspecies to combat our evils for ourselves, the lions and the serpents that torment us.Unlike the fluttering, wimpy angels of the popular media, Marisol’s angel mostcompletely fulfils this Psalm.114‘‘I__ilA song by Kate Bush, 1 993.Oh thou, who givest sustenance to the universeFrom whom all things proceedTo whom all things returnUnveil to us the face of the true spiritual sunHidden by a disc of. golden lightThat we may know the truthAnd do our whole dutyAs we journey to thy sacred feetWell I said“Lily, Oh Lily I don’t feel safeI feel that life has blown a great big hole Through me”And she said“Child, you must protect yourselfI’ll show you how with fire”Gabriel before meRaphael behind meMichael to my rightUriel on my left sidein the circle of fireI said“Lily, Oh Lily I’m so afraidI fear I am walking in the veil of Darkness”And she said“Child take what I sayWith a pinch of saltAnd protect yourself with fire”Gabriel before meRaphael behind meMichael to my rightUriel on my left sidein the circle of fire115DARKNESS VISIBLEWith this song, Kate Bush offers a beautifully written work that synthesizes severalthemes — angels, fire, salt, and empowerment. The song also proposes that our “true”relationship with the Divine must entail lifting the ‘veil of Darkness”.We must have the courage to enter into the darkness, become conscious ofhuman evil, and claim responsibility.It is often when we face the squalid shadows of what we fear the most, that weencounter revelation. As Nor Hall states, “...it is not as important to look at our modesof growth and development as it is to consider how we rot...The decomposition ofmatter precedes any reordering.. .have the courage to face into the dark” (1994: 18-1 9).If we keep our focus solely on fluffy white wings or, as one audience memberstated, the “crown held up high,” it keeps us “from seeing the grime beneath, thecallousness and dirt.”We must acknowledge that beneath our sanitized structured ideals, lie macabrerealities that the everyday world chooses not to see. If we do not admit to the darker,more unpleasant sides to human existence, like wounds they will fester and worsen.Lenny informs the audience:And if there were words to describe it, Marisol, you wouldn’t believe itanyway, because, in fact, it’s literally unbelievable, it’s another reality, andit’s actually happening right now. And that fact — the fact that it’shappening right now — compounds the unbelievable nature of the street,Marisol, adds to its lunacy, it’s permanent deniability. But I know it’s real.I’ve been bitten by it. I have its rabies (33).116It is only through coming out of denial; it is only through awareness, that arevelation can take place. Jung stated in 1 945, ‘One does not become enlightened byimagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The latter procedure,however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular” (cited in Zweig & Abrams: 4).Darkness is “disagreeable” and unpopular, not only because it represents dangerand destruction, but also because darkness often represents the unknown; that whichcannot be seen clearly. Darkness is most fully characterized by mystery.When faced with the unknown, we are faced with what we cannot predict orcontrol, and that, in itself, can be terrifying.Earlier, I likened the liminal state to going underground. When we gounderground, we not only descend, but we enter into darkness. Liminality ischaracterized by “limen,” the threshold between what is known and unknown, betweenstructured familiar categories and anti-structure, infinite possibility.In liminal darkness what used to be clear is now unclear, what used to befamiliar, is made unfamiliar. Jungian analyst, D. Patrick Miller (1991), states that “inbright sunlight; this is this and that is that”, while “in the moonlight; things kind of blendtogether, and they’re not so distinct from one another. The whole matter of the shadowis very subtle and complex; it’s not nearly as simple as the subject of good-and-evil mayappear to be” (20).This very phenomenon occurred with the issue of violence in Marisol. Througha series of events such as Marisol’s attempted rape and the torch ing of the homeless, aswell as a series of symbolic inversions such as a rebel female angel, a pregnant man, and117a female Nazi, a single issue, ‘violence in our society”, becomes a myriad of reflections,questions, and concerns.When we’re in the dark, we have to squint and peer more closely at what isbefore us. We apply more effort to see things we take for granted when there is light.However, when something is unfamiliar, when we struggle to see it, sometimes wecome across new possibilities never before considered. In darkness, we are pushed intothe realm of the unknown, the realm of unrealized possibility.The location of the UBC production of Marisol, in the Dorothy Somerset Studio,was fitting. The studio is located in the basement of the Frederick Wood Theatre. Onemust descend stairs and go underground to reach the studio. There are no windowsinside; the studio never sees the light of day.My respondents informed me that above ground, in the Frederick Wood theatre,plays are performed that tend to have a greater mass appeal. Several respondents statedthat plays performed in the theatre are often “conservative”, “safe” and, in some cases,“anaemic”. As a certain amount of subscription tickets need to be sold each year to fundthe theatre, fewer risks, fewer challenges to the norm-governed world may be taken.Underground in the studio, however, the graduate directing students producetheir plays. One can take more creative risks in the studio, more rebellion may besought.When we enter into the darkness, we are made vulnerable. We are exposed tothe unknown, that which lies beyond our established norms. Scar Tissue described hisangel as “raw”. She is a being who exposes. By making darkness visible, she bringsconsciousness to realms, in our everyday world we cannot, and sometimes will not, see.118She makes us aware of our destruction, how we “rot”, and she also makes us aware ofcreation, untold possibilities never before realized.119JOURNEY’S ENDI sometimes think I see civilizations originatein the disclosure of some mystery,some secret,and expand with the progressive publicationof that secretand end in exhaustionwhen there is no longer any secret,when the mystery has been divulgedthat is to say,profaned.There comes a timewhen civilization has to be renewedby the discovery of new mysteries,by the undemocratic but sovereign powerof the imagination.—Norman 0. Brown, “Apocalypse”Marisol unveils the vital and creative power of liminality, in the form of theatre.Our intellects and imaginations are forced to work in tandem, to better understand oursocial lives, as well as to consider whether we want to preserve or transform those lives.Liminality does not necessarily offer concrete solutions. It rather offers up a myriad ofpossibilities. It poses multitudes of questions, multi-vocal images; the contrasts of blackand white, as well as the grey areas. It is a crucial stage that must precede decision-making. We are forced to look before we leap.A hundred and forty years ago, factory worker, Charlotte Woodward, wrote of hertime: “1 do not believe that there was any community anywhere in which the souls ofwomen were not beating their wings in rebellion” (cited in Wolf 320-32 1). The same is120true today, and applies to all people who are oppressed by their societies for defying outmoded social categories that imprison the spirit.Human potentiality can be envisioned as a flame. This flame can be used todestroy or create. Revolution can be violent or non-violent, depending on how seriouslywe take our liminal endeavours. We have the choice to listen to the messages of thesecreative realms, or we can wait for our needs and desires as a species explode in ourfaces in an effort to be heard. Turner asserted that all cultural performances, no matterhow subservient to structure, contain within them the seeds for transformation. I seethese seeds as eternal sparks or embers that are always ready to be fanned or breathedupon.By displaying complex and contradictory images, Marisol provides temptations.Temptations to think, discuss, and reflect upon the normative structures we have created.The courage to face our nightmares, as well as our utopian daydreams.The liminal power of theatre is one such breath that can fan the spark of humanpotential, making it grow ever brighter. This creative ember must always be tended to.A spark may take a series of breaths, many visitations, successes and failures in theliminal world, before it has the oxygen to ignite into a flame.Of Victor Turner, Schechner once wrote: “Turner, who specialized in the liminal,the in-between, lived in a house that was all doors: every idea lead to new ideas, everyproposition was a network of possibilities” (1 986: 8).The very same can be said of José Rivera. What is truly exciting about Marisol,is that each time one approaches this play, new images and interpretations comebounding up from the text, the performance, and the stories of those who gave it social121life. All great art is infinite and unbounded in this way. Whether one calls the liminalpower of theatre God, angels, or acts of human imagination, it cannot be disputed thatit is transcendant, unpredictable and, indeed, mysterious.122BIBLIOGRAPHYAlexander, Bobby C. 1991. “Correcting Misinterpretations of Turner’s Theory: AnAfrican-American Pentecostal Illustration,” Journal for Scientific Study of Religion30(1): 26-44.Babcock, Barbara A. 1 978. “Introduction.” In The Reversible World: Symbolic Inversionin Art and Society, Barbara A. Babcock (ed.), pp.13-36. London: CornellUniversity Press.Bell, Robert E. 1991. “Nice.” In Women of Classical Mythology, 323. Santa Barbara,California: ABC-CLIO, Inc.Burnham, Sophy. 1990. A Book of Angels. New York: Ballantine Books.Carroll, Lewis. 1865. 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