Breaking the Bounds: British Feminist Dramatists Writing in the Mainstream since c. 1980

By Dimple Godiwala | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX

RECAPITULATION

[...]theatre [...] is about ways of employing the force of art in the service of change, about ways of putting the levers of change in the hands of those who would otherwise be its victims.

—Tim Prentki, Popular Theatre in Political Culture

BREAKING THE BOUNDS has been not so much about a transgression as about a gradual transformation in western discourse. The twentieth century has been a period which signals an epistemic break in western patriarchal and cultural knowledges as the numerous marginal discourses of sexuality, race and gender seep into the mainstage and affect socio-political space.

Specifically, of course, this book has looked at feminism as the transformative force, as it implies (monolithically speaking) the revolutionary desire of half the population. The conscious act of consciousness raising—in the suffrage era as well as post-war second wave feminism—demonstrated the agency of the female subject.

Within feminism, I have focused on drama created by five British women who—for different reasons and in different ways—managed to rupture the apparently seamless enclosure of patriarchal mainstream theatre. These feminists have stepped severally into traditional territory and addressed topics such as politics, war, money, capitalism, power, which were male prerogatives for centuries. Most importantly, they have destabilized malestream discourse to incorporate herstory. They have broken open the British closet with issues ranging from domestic abuse and pornography— male control over women's bodies—to 'coming out'. They have demonstrated that the personal is indeed the political as the political influences the personal lives of women. They have subverted traditional morphologies to create drama which is experimental and neo-avantgardist in subject matter. These feminist dramatists have collectively broken the bounds of traditional male-dominated dramatic discourse.

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