A Sourcebook on Feminist Theatre and Performance: On and by Carol Martin

By Carol Martin

This paintings is a different choice of key articles on feminist theatre and function shape The Drama assessment (TDR). Carol Martin juxtaposes conception and perform to supply a really entire evaluate of the improvement of feminist theatre. This amazing assortment comprises key texts by way of theorists akin to Elin Diamond, Peggy Phelan and Lynda Hart and interviews with practitioners together with Anna Deveare Smith and Robbie McCauley. It additionally comprises complete performances texts by way of of the main influential and debatable practiitioners of feminist theatre: Dress fits to Hire via Holly Hughes and The consistent country of Desire by means of Karen Finley. A Sourcebook on Feminist Theatre and Performance is a necessary buy for college students of theatre stories, functionality stories and women's theatre.

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There’s a large reach implicit and necessary here that makes the importance of these dialogues pressingly clear. Karen Finley’s interview with Richard Schechner collected here predates Finley’s NEA imbroglio, in which her funding was canceled and the media fed over her in a frenzy. But the specter of censorship is predicted, in the performances Finley was asked to stop at the ICA in London, and in the often violent responses provoked by her work. In another contribution toward developing a new feminist praxis, Finley’s interview details her performance technique as anti-acting, yet raises complicated questions about the relationship of her work to other kinds of mediation (such as spirit channeling).

Lynda Hart’s article, “Motherhood According to Karen Finley: The Theory of Total Blame” works with Freudian precepts as its Ur-text, which seems appropriate and necessary in addressing Finley’s attack on the American domestic drama that persistently structures social relations. Hart locates Finley’s “play,” The Theory of Total Blame, “squarely within American familial representations, not unlike Sam Shepard’s Buried Child or Edward Albee’s American Dream”. Echoing another Diamond article, Hart questions “whether mimesis can be played with a difference …it is this question that intrigues me about Finley’s Blame, an unconventionally conventional play”.

This piece predicts some of the issues on which she came to focus in her important book, Unmarked18 Phelan proposes a distinction between “reading” and “seeing” that works across different levels of language and culture. She brackets the register of sight, explicating Yvonne Rainer’s film The Man INTRODUCTORY ESSAY: FATHOM LANGUAGES Who Envied Women, and studying performances by Angelika Festa, in which seeing and reading are foregrounded and refocused. Phelan points out that “Festa’s work is allied with much postmodern performance art in that its primary interest comes from the discourse it promotes after the fact, rather than from the immediacy of the image it creates when it is ‘presented’”.

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