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Sarah Ruhl and the New Geography of Feminist Theatre: Is Popular Feminist Theatre Possible?

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2014, 27(2), pp.175-208
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Sung Hee Choi 1

1이화여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper, which aims to delineate Sarah Ruhl’s unique position in the changing geography of women’s theatre in the U.S. today, investigates how Sarah Ruhl’s plays succeed both tradition of popular theatre and genealogy of feminist theatre with her unique aesthetics of “Ovidian dramaturgy.” First I devise and suggest a new theoretical framework called “feminism 3.0” which allows us to transcend the generational barriers of ‘wave’ model and explore the new territory of “a third space” in which different attitudes and perspectives coexist and interweave one another outside of the linear time. Second, applying the theoretical paradigm into evaluating Ruhl’s dramatic world, I analyze Ruhl’s dramaturgy of convergence and metamorphosis as a significant symptom and crucial example of new popular feminist theatre. Finally in the conclusion, using the critical concept of “affect” and Ranciere’s notions of “ignorant schoolmaster” and “emancipated spectator,” I speculate how Ruhl’s popular feminist drama diverges from the 2nd wave feminism and conventional popular theatre. Ruhl’s utopian performative is experienced not by political or ethical ideology but primarily through her aesthetic forms that combine sensibles and emotions into a powerful affect. I argue that the emancipated spectator needs centripetal force as well as centrifugal liberation and therefore Ruhl’s Ovidian dramaturgy exemplifies a new possibility of popular feminist theatre that appeals and attracts wide range of spectators and (per)forms a community based on the common yearning for utopia, the vanishing point.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.