English India

O'Quinn, "Through Colonial Spectacles: the Irish Vizier and the Female-Knight in James Cobb's Ramah Droog"

James Cobb's popular comic opera Ramah Droog offers a useful site for examining the ways that representations of colonial space and of sexual deviance come together to generate a phantasm of a heteronormative imperial Britain. The set designs of Cobb's opera are explicitly linked to Thomas and William Daniells illustrations of Indian landscape and the essay demonstrates how key aspects of the visuality of the opera celebrate Cornwallis's victory over Tipu Sultan. This celebration is crucial for the play suggests a parallel between Cornwallis's defeat of Tipu and his later subjugation of Irish rebels in Wexford. These parallels are elaborated through the play's deployment of characters who are both ethnically and sexually cross-dressed. The presentation of a feminized Irish vizier and a masculinized Irish female knight constitutes a rupture in conventional theatrical representation and as such points toward the silent construction of heteronormative British imperial subjects at the opera's close.
November 2000


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