Branding Texas: Performing Culture in the Lone Star State by Leigh Clemons

By Leigh Clemons

Ask someone to call an archetypal Texan, and you are more likely to get a larger-than-life personality from movie or tv (say John Wayne's Davy Crockett or J. R. Ewing of TV's Dallas) or a political candidate with that sure swagger (think LBJ or George W. Bush). that each one of those figures are white and male and bursting with self-confidence is not any twist of fate, asserts Leigh Clemons. during this considerate research of what makes a ''Texan,'' she finds how Texan identification grew out of the history--and, much more, the myth--of the heroic deeds played by means of Anglo males through the Texas Revolution and the years of the Republic and the way this id is built and maintained via theatre and different representational practices. Clemons seems at quite a lot of venues during which ''Texanness'' is played, together with historical websites comparable to the Alamo, the battlefield at Goliad, and the San Jacinto Monument; museums similar to the Bob Bullock Texas kingdom historical past Museum; seasonal open air dramas resembling Texas! at Palo Duro Canyon; motion pictures comparable to John Wayne's The Alamo and the IMAX's Alamo: the cost of Freedom; performs and television exhibits comparable to the Tuna trilogy, Dallas, and King of the Hill; and the Cavalcade of Texas functionality on the 1936 Texas Centennial. She persuasively demonstrates that those performances have created a Texan identification that has develop into a model, a commodity that may be bought to the general public or even manipulated for political reasons.

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While the Alamo Cenotaph serves as a tombstone, it is not, in actuality, a grave site. The ashes of the Texian army dead, burned on pyres after the battle, have long since dispersed. The Cenotaph marks the heroism of their sacrifice, not the futility of it. As one description states, “the theme of the monument is the Spirit of Sacrifice, represented on the main (south) face of the shaft by an idealistic figure rising twenty-three feet from the long sloping capstone emblematic of the tomb.  Because no national narrative applicable to the performance of the Texan has come from it, the Goliad battle site represents the materiality of loss of life, the core of any war, with a force and permanence missing at its more famous sibling memorials.

While the Alamo Cenotaph serves as a tombstone, it is not, in actuality, a grave site. The ashes of the Texian army dead, burned on pyres after the battle, have long since dispersed. The Cenotaph marks the heroism of their sacrifice, not the futility of it. As one description states, “the theme of the monument is the Spirit of Sacrifice, represented on the main (south) face of the shaft by an idealistic figure rising twenty-three feet from the long sloping capstone emblematic of the tomb.  Because no national narrative applicable to the performance of the Texan has come from it, the Goliad battle site represents the materiality of loss of life, the core of any war, with a force and permanence missing at its more famous sibling memorials.

The road to the amphitheater takes one down into the heart of the canyon and its resident flora and fauna (cars often share the parking lot with a diamondback or two, which are wrangled into sacks by stagehands and released in lesstrafficked areas). The back wall of the stage is a three hundred–foot cliff face, which serves as backdrop and delimiter of the stage space itself. The forestage area gradually merges backward into a section of natural landscape which slopes toward the wall of the canyon.

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