Female Characters, Male Playwrights, and the Modern Stage
Some feminists criticize male playwrights for misrepresenting and thereby victimizing women through patriarchal narratives; other feminists applaud selected male playwrights as creators of "universal" women's roles. In this bold and imaginative book, Gay Gibson Cima delineates previously unacknowledged complexities in the relationship between male playwrights and female characters in the modern theatre. That relationship has been misinterpreted, she maintains, because the contributions of female actors and the variations in their actual performance conditions and styles are too often ignored.
Taking into account hypothetical as well as historical performances of works by representative male playwrights from Ibsen to Beckett, Cima sheds important new light on the acting styles invented by women to create female characters on stage. Changes in performance style, Cima observes, may alter conventional modes of viewing and disrupt behavioral codes generated by a patriarchal cultural system.
Performing Women is essential reading for theatre critics and historians, feminist theorists, theatre professionals and amateurs, and others interested in film and the stage.