|In Latin America and the Hispanic Caribbean, writing has performed an important function in the project of constructing and defining nationhood. The role of performance in the cultural politics of representing the nation, however, has been less studied, and this dissertation examines how theater and performance constitute a special site and activity for imagining communities. I argue that the pervasive image of the family in contemporary Cuban and Puerto Rican drama relates to the struggle for national and cultural self-definition in these two countries. The problematic family relationships enacted in Puerto Rican works by Francisco Arriví, René Marqués, Myrna Casas, Antonio García del Toro, Luis Rafael Sánchez, and Roberto Ramos Perea, and in Cuban plays by Rolando Ferrer, Virgilio Piñera, Abelardo Estorino, José Triana, Roberto Orihuela, Alberto Pedro Torriente, and Joaquin Miguel Cuartas Rodríguez serve to explore the discourses of collective identity during important transitional moments in the history of these two islands.The contextualized analysis of two key periods of the production of family drama—the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s, and the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s—reveals historical changes in the modes of representing families as a metaphor for national community and, consequently, significant changes in long-standing identity debates in Cuba and Puerto Rico. In the plays from the 1950s and 1960s, the dramatic action unfolds in the family space—the house—which is identified with the nation. In more recent works, the configuration of theatrical space takes on new meanings, and playwrights are less apt to construct an on-stage structure that houses a particular vision of the national family. This shift in how playwrights stage the family contributes to the new paradigms of collective identity currently discussed in Cuba and Puerto Rico. The de-emphasis of nationalist discourses results in less paternalist and more diverse representations of the family and the nation. Likewise, the presence of performing families in plays from the 1980s and 1990s underscores the constructed nature of identity and, ultimately, more flexible models of family and nation.