Re-visioning myth : feminist strategies in contemporary theatre
This thesis examines the strategy of re-visioning myth within contemporary European feminist theatre, a strategy which has proved popular over time and across cultures but which has received insufficient critical attention. This study seeks to fill that gap by offering a framework through which this practice can be considered, exploring the diverse motivations of individual playwrights, and evaluating the achievements of particular plays in context. Twelve case studies are included, grouped together to demonstrate a variety of approaches to re-visioning ranging from utilisation of myth as pretext for examination of social issues, to an apparent abandonment of contemporary reality for a utopian otherworld. However, it is argued first that mythical, social and psychological strands remain intertwined, and second that the diversity of approaches reflects the importance for feminist theatre of selecting strategies to meet specific needs, and that these strategies can thus be viewed as complementary rather than in conflict. Chapter One introduces selected critical perspectives on myth, re-visioning and feminist theatre, framing these within Rita Felski's model of the feminist counter-public sphere. Chapter Two discusses plays by Hella Haasse, Franca Rame and Sarah Daniels, which examine myth as ideological narrative. Plays by Maureen Duffy, Caryl Churchill and David Lan, and Timberlake Wertenbaker, considered in Chapter Three, investigate myths of female violence. Chapter Four looks at plays by Andree Chedid and Angela Carter which use myth to confront women's complicity in maintaining the status quo. Plays by Serena Sartori, Renata Coluccini and Helene Cixous, discussed in Chapter Five, offer psychological investigations into women's relationships with myth, language and power. The thesis concludes with a summary of the research findings, and assesses their significance.