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Technologies, Women, and Communication in Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Men’s Cell Phone and In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2021, 34(3), pp.29-64
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama
  • Received : November 16, 2021
  • Accepted : December 14, 2021
  • Published : December 31, 2021

Hyun Ah Kim 1 Miseong Woo 1

1연세대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This study examines the props used in Sarah Ruhl’s plays with characteristics of “new science and technology” or “invention. ” There are several perspectives on the relationship between science technology and women. Ruhl’s works often bring inventions regarding new science and technology on stage to draw the attention of female protagonists and audiences and further ask “what meaning can be given to women’s choice and use of technology. ” This study aims to explore the impact of such new technologies on the female characters and feminist themes in her plays. This study analyzes Dead Man ’ s Cell Phone (2007) and In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play (2010), focusing on the props of new technologies: cell phone, vibrator, and electricity. The cell phone is a familiar subject to contemporary audiences, and the one in Dead Man ’ s Cell Phone serves as an important medium for the growth of the female protagonist through mourning for the dead, healing and reconciliation with the remaining people, and comfort. On the contrary, the vibrator in In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play is an old treatment equipment unfamiliar to contemporary audiences. In this play, it helps female characters find their sexuality and experience solidarity with women. It also acts as a facilitator of communication and positive changes toward happiness in the relationship of a husband and wife. Confronting such familiar or unfamiliar scientific props allow the audience to experience a sense of feminism presented by Ruhl, by dealing with novelty in familiar materials and a sense of homogeneity in unfamiliar ones. The insights gained from the results of this research will help American theatres and other popular culture commodities find more interesting ways to relate science to women and move toward feminism that aims for mutual communication and happiness.

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