Feminist Theatre History

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Feminist theatre came into being as a by product of the experimental theatre movement of the 1970s’ and 1980’. It was an alternate theatre which enabled women to explore their creative talents on stage independently. Feminist theatre served as a means of constructing an exclusive feminist discourse on stage that questioned the patriarchal norms of female subjugation. Its movement was towards the construction of a theatre space where women are no longer mere stage props. They started functioning as the creators of drama rather than being confined to the roles of wife, lover, mother or lunatic. It was a paradigm shift from women being the objects of male gaze to the creation of a self sufficient female gaze, from being objects to being the subject …show more content…

The construction of a self-conscious female gaze is the prime objective of feminist theatres everywhere. British feminist theatre practice as elsewhere is an attempt made by women to claim their rightful space in the creative realm of theatre that was deliberately denied to them by patriarchy. The public gaze on women was always the male gaze, one that always wished to see women as objects. It was an ideological position that patriarchy sanctioned as the normal way of looking at women. Women were always the secondary sexual objects for the gratification of male sexual fantasies. Feminist theatre was a voice raised against this perspective. It was the construction of a counter cultural politics where women pushed themselves towards the subject position. Feminist theatre argues in favour of the potential of theatre to revise representations of gender differences on the …show more content…

Initially it was allied to gay men’s theatre, Gay Sweatshop founded in 1975. It produced its first lesbian piece Any Woman Can by Jill Posner in 1976. It was a ‘coming out story’. Gradually lesbian theatre companies came in to existence. Care and Control scripted by Michelene Wandor was the Gay sweatshop women’s first production. It brought into public notice the problems faced by lesbian mothers in child custody cases, a concern typical of feminist theatre practice. Thus it inaugurated the feminist phase of lesbian theatre. Later lesbian theatre discussed a number of such concerns that affected the lives of lesbian women as well as women in general like male violence, patriarchal control of women’s bodies and sexuality and plays celebrating lesbian continuumplays like Aid Thy neighbour by Michelene Wandor, Neaptide bySara Daniels, Curfew by Siren Theatre, Basin by Jaquiline Rudet and The Fires of Bride by Jackie Kay are a few major milestones in the development of lesbian theatre practice (213). During the 1970s’ and 1980s’a number of lesbian theatre companies came into being like Hormone Imbalance, Siren, Hard Corps and a number of lesbian writers were commissioned by other theatre companies like The Women’s Theatre Group, Royal court Theatre and the National Theatre. All these lesbian theatre companies worked by conceiving a heterosexual spectator

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