Introduction to Feminism and Theatre by Elaine Aston

By Elaine Aston

Ultimately an available and clever creation to the energising and tough courting among feminism and theatre. during this transparent and enlightening publication, Aston discusses wide-ranging theoretical subject matters and gives case stories together with: * Feminism and theatre historical past * `M/Othering the self': French feminist thought and theatre * Black ladies: shaping feminist theatre * acting gender: a materialist perform * Colonial landscapes Feminist suggestion is altering the best way theatre is taught and practised. An creation to Feminism and Theatre is obligatory examining for someone who calls for an actual, insightful and updated advisor to this dynamic box of analysis.

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It requires a bursting, a violent breaking up of the symbolic order/ language which has denied women their ‘voice’, their identity: 44 INTRODUCTION TO FEMINISM AND THEATRE Voice-cry. Agony—the ‘spoken’ word exploded, blown to bits by suffering and anger, demolishing discourse: this is how she has always been heard before, ever since the time when masculine society began to push her offstage, expulsing her, plundering her. Ever since Medea, ever since Electra. (94) There is a tendency when discussing concepts of a ‘female voice’ in contexts of academic debate, where French feminist theory is used to explicate theatrical text, to forget that Cixous’s idea of the Voice is located in the pre-Oedipal stage: it is not ‘female’ in the sense accorded to this term in its binary, symbolic definition relative to the ‘male’.

In particular it has been used to further a feminist critique of realism. In narrative terms, dramatic and theatrical texts in the realist tradition operate systems of ‘closure’. Their well-constructed or wellmade forms follow a linear pattern from exposition to crisis and ultimate resolution. The subject of this narrative is male and its discourse is phallocentric: is expressive of male experience, emotions, etc. By contrast, the ‘female’ is enclosed within the male narratives of realism, is most commonly defined in relation to the male ‘subject’ (as wife, mother, daughter, etc), is unable to take up a subject position (as previously described), and is used as an object of exchange in an heterosexual, male economy.

For example, Schlueter’s collection of essays on male-authored 38 INTRODUCTION TO FEMINISM AND THEATRE American drama (1989) offers four feminist re-readings of Arthur Miller. The first of these, by Gayle Austin, is, of the four, the most cogent and incisively argued re-reading of narrative and gender issues. Austin explains her choice of text by alluding to the reputation of Death of a Salesman (1949) as ‘the “Daddy” of American drama and a frequently utilized paradigm for what American drama is or should be’ (1989:59).

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