Monkey Business Theatre

Monkey Business Theatre

by Robert M. Laughlin, Sna Jtz'ibajom


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In 1983, a group of citizens in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, formed Sna Jtz'ibajom, the Tzotzil-Tzeltal Maya writers' cooperative. In the two decades since, this group has evolved from writing and publishing bilingual booklets to writing and performing plays that have earned them national and international renown.

Anthropologist Robert M. Laughlin has been a part of the group since its beginnings, and he offers a unique perspective on its development as a Mayan cultural force. The Monkey Business Theatre, or Teatro Lo'il Maxil, as this branch of Sna Jtz'ibajom calls itself, has presented plays in virtually every corner of the state of Chiapas, as well as in Mexico City, Guatemala, Honduras, Canada, and in many museums and universities in the United States. It has presented to the world, for the first time in drama, a view of the culture of the Mayas of Chiapas.

In this work, Laughlin presents a translation of twelve of the plays created by Sna Jtz'ibajom, along with an introduction for each. Half of the plays are based on myths and half on the social, political, and economic problems that have confronted—and continue to confront—the Mayas of Chiapas.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780292726093
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Publication date: 05/16/2012
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.73(d)

About the Author

ROBERT M. LAUGHLIN is Curator Emeritus of Meso-american ethnology in the Department of Anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

SNA JTZ'IBAJOM is a Mayan writers' cooperative based in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword: The Visitors' Question (by Carter Wilson)
  • Preface: Recollections of a Ghost (by Ralph Lee)
  • Acknowledgments
  • Pronunciation and Translation
  • 1. Looking Back, Looking Forward: In the Beginning
  • 2. Febrero Loco: A Live Theatre in the Making
  • 3. The Theatre on the Road: The Great Adventure
  • 4. Personal and Social Impacts
  • 5. The Immokalee Special: Social Action in Florida
  • 6. The Future
  • The Plays
    • The Loafer and the Buzzard
    • Who Believes in Spooks?
    • Deadly Inheritance
    • Jaguar Dynasty
    • Let's Go to Paradise!
    • From All for All
    • Torches for a New Dawn
    • The Story of Our Roots
    • Workers in the Other World
    • When Corn Was Born
    • Mexico with Us Forever!
    • The World Turned on Its Head
  • Appendix 1: Individuals Referred to in the Text
  • Appendix 2: Members and Former Members of Sna Jtz'ibajom
  • Appendix 3: Length of Service
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography
  • Index

What People are Saying About This

Tamara L. Underiner

"Sna Jtz'ibajom is perhaps the best known producer of Mayan-language theatre in Mexico, in continuous operation for more than twenty years. . . . Smithsonian anthropologist Robert Laughlin, who has been involved with the group from the outset, is in a unique position not only to provide the translations, but also to provide a deeply informed personal perspective of their development over more than two decades."

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