Feminism and Theatre
Book: Feminism and Theatre
Written by: Sue- Ellen Case
Published by: Routledge (1988)
Sue-Ellen Case’s ‘Feminism and Theatre’ maps new forms of spectatorship, performances, texts, and the new role of the female actor by examining linkages between radical and materialist feminism and the theatre. The book is divided into seven provocative chapters, which can be read individually. The first chapter deconstructs the classics of the canons (Aeschylus’s ‘The Oresteia, Plato’s ‘Theaetetus’ and the plays written during the ‘Elizabethan Era’) to examine the strategic erasure of women’s participation in theatrical texts and performances. In the second and the third chapter, the author focuses exclusively on the works of women artists (Theodora, a mime artist and a dancer in 5th century AD, Hrotsvit von Gandershei— the first known woman playwright of the written texts, Apra Behn and others) and separate their achievements from those in the canon. These chapters also focus on the idea of ‘personal theatre’ — personal and private spaces within houses such as salons and gardens that allowed women to create performances — a theatre history which is otherwise not discussed in the popular discourse. The final four chapters of the book investigate the intersections of postmodern theory and feminism and its implications to the stage.
“For theatre, the basic theoretical project for feminism could be termed a ‘new poetics’, borrowing the notion from Aristotle’s Poetics. New feminist theory would abandon the traditional patriarchal values embedded in prior notions of form, practice and audience response in order to construct new critical models and methodologies for the drama that would accommodate the presence of women in the art, support their liberation from the cultural fictions of the female gender and deconstruct the valorisation of the male gender. In pursuit of these objectives, feminist dramatic theory would borrow freely…” (p.114)Feminism and Theatre