• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3
  4. 4
    4
  5. 5
    5
  6. 6
    6
  7. 7
    7
  8. 8
    8
  9. 9
    9
  10. 10
    10
  11. 11
    11
  12. 12
    12

Examine the importance of spectatorship issues and audience dynamics in feminist approaches to performance

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

I will examine the importance of spectatorship issues and audience dynamics in feminist approaches to performance by comparing a feminist piece, Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues, with another piece, Ursula Martinez's OAP, where feminist issues were at work, but not the focus of the performance. I intend to demonstrate how feminist performance tries to call attention to 'the gaze' of the spectator and challenge the patriarchal organisation of culture. To begin my analysis, I must define what I mean by 'the gaze'. John Berger wrote: Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only the relations of men to women, but also the relations of women to themselves. (Berger in Wolf [1990] 1991: 58). It is clear that the 'active' gaze in Berger's analysis belongs to the male (subject), and that the 'passive' object of his gaze is the female. When applying this analysis to theatre, it is vital to note that theatre has been theorised as 'a cultural practice, a practice of representation, and so inevitably enters the arena of ideology' (Counsell and Wolf 2001: 31). Consequently, if theatre does reproduce this active/male and passive/female, attention to the way the gaze is encoded in theatre could offer insight into the way 'woman' is constructed onstage, and how feminist theatre may contest this. Sue-Ellen Case's analysis of 'the gaze' in theatre demonstrates this point: Given the assumption that stage and audience co-produce the performance text, the meaning of the sign 'woman' is also created by the audience. ...read more.

Middle

orgasm. As well as being a source of comedy, the different orgasms demonstrated were clearly not of the 'vaginal passivity' that is usually imposed on women: 'A girl must learn several things to properly assume her feminine role. She must give up clitoral masturbation and channel her sexuality towards vaginal passivity.' (Freud in Dolan 1988: 11). Furthermore, the audience was told these orgasms liberated women, which could mean liberation from the passive 'uterine norm' Freud describes in the Dolan quote above. In addition to repressing sexuality in order to 'assume her feminine role', Luce Irigaray argues that women have other cultural roles imposed upon them: Mother, virgin, prostitute: these are the social roles imposed upon women...neither as mother nor as virgin nor as prostitute has woman any right to her own sexual pleasure. (Irigaray in Counsell and Wolf 2001: 63 - 64) Thus, using a lesbian prostitute as a source of liberation from sexual repression may call into question the roles culture imposes on women, because by choosing to be a lesbian (and a prostitute) she too gets (sexual) pleasure from giving other women sexual pleasure, therefore, she creates her own right to it, and is not ashamed of it. Yet, while stating that The Vagina Monologues may provide most viewing pleasure for a spectator competent in decoding the feminist message, analyzing the spectatorship issues 'The Woman Who loved To Make Vaginas Happy' present to a non-feminist spectator is important in order to investigate how feminist performance tries to call attention to 'the gaze'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Yet, this gesture still made a point about the stigmatism associated with old age, as by dressing herself up in young ladies clothes to make herself more attractive to the audience, old Ursula revealed how 'the body...is invested with cultural meaning, its materiality obscured by signs, so that our conception of our bodies reflects and re-enforces the ruling socio-symbolic order' (Grosz in Counsell and Wolf 2001: 140). Therefore, as a not overtly feminist performance, OAP still engaged with feminist issues. By adhering to the dominant ideologies of beauty and age, and then undermining them through Brechtian performance techniques (for example, the demonstration of gender dynamics) OAP made age a feminist issue by allowing age and feminism to intersect, permitting the feminist spectator to engage with the piece. Using Brechtian techniques to unsettle 'the gaze' was a key element in this process, as by undermining the stereotype of an old lady, the performance text helped to shape a different kind of cultural text (Dolan 1988: 2). In conclusion, although OAP was undoubtedly successful at making age a feminist issue, The Vagina Monologues, by virtue of being a hybrid of political demonstration/performance, was ultimately more successful at challenging the patriarchal structures of culture. By creating an audience dynamic of shared solidarity with other women, who were the implied and real spectators of the piece, The Vagina Monologues was searching for political change, and all feminism 'must be defined with a political edge' (Reinalt and Roach 1992: 225). OAP was not seeking political change, but effectively brought to attention the ignominy suffered by its real spectators, particularly the female ones, who were the pensioners Ursula interviewed in Morecambe6. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Plays section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Plays essays

  1. In 'the stronger' Strindberg focuses upon the role and importance of women at the ...

    and then '(making the slippers walk across the table)' Here, Mrs X is using the slippers to 'show off' her daily life to Miss Y. She thinks that Miss Y has no idea of married life and Strindberg has used this prop to aid Mrs X in speaking down to Miss Y and make Mrs X appear stronger.

  2. log book

    We have also made changes to the ending, having Holly's mum finding Holly half an hour after she's killed herself on cocaine. We have also taken out "Run to You" the song, instead were going to play "Taking Chances" as that's what the plays called and it's also about taking chances in life.

  1. “All My Sons”: Examine the Dramatic Power of Act 3.

    although in my view, he has a slight smugness to his character and this becomes more evident as the play progresses. It is awkward to decide whether Joe Keller should be loved or hated. He should be hated because it eventually becomes clear that he killed 21 servicemen but he

  2. Three sister Anton Chekov analysis and review of a performance.

    There was great sense of fire, rage and of being scared when you see him pull out the gun to the baby. It made me feel very tense and I knew what was going to happen next. He was very mysterious and made me very interested in what he was saying at all time.

  1. A Comparison between 'The Godmother' and My Self-devised Performance

    People who wanted to drink alcohol had to go to speakeasies were they could drink and be entertained, even thought they were illegal. At speakeasies there would be vaudevilles and cabaret shows. Show girls would be hired by agencies like Spat's Valetta's, these agencies were legal.

  2. What do we learn about New York and the programmes themselves through the openings ...

    by the signification of Carrie standing out from the crowds behind her. The extreme focus the character gives to the sky further strengthens the idea of Carrie looking above the buildings and dreaming, thinking, contemplating and reflecting upon her life.

  1. Being "Lost" in Lost has multiple meanings. Lost by the physical meaning, literally ...

    terms of being a castaway drama, but it was purely white cast with a sitcom type feel to it. Therefore, Lost is a reaction against Gilligans Island. However, it is a subversion of the Survivor format. Due to this Lost has no predetermined format it is such a success because

  2. Evaluation of the Performance of "Anne and Zef" by Ad de Bont

    There was scaffolding framing the set making a small chlosterphobic space representing the Bunga family home, which also shows the confinement of where Anne was in hiding from Nazi Germany. The piece becomes timeless as there is a minimalistic set of a table and chairs and several boxes and a

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work