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Feminist American Drama

Research Area: Faculty of Arts
Status: Finished Degree: Phd
  • Sahar Adel Mohamed Bahgat
  • Amin Elayouty
  • Freedy F. Wahba

ملخص:The emancipation of women in the United States has brought about great changes in the sociul status or the American woman. Prom the trad itional goals of horne, husband and the attainment of physical beauty, women have advanced to new freedoms competing with men on equal basis in business, industry, education, and government. In the past it seemed necessary for a woman to define herself by the relationships she was able to establish with men. Today it is a woman’s choice to define herself as an autonomous, independcnt, self- sufTicient individual, with or without male definition ifthat is her desire.
However, even if the changes brought about by emancipation have been rapid, the
elTectl are slow in being absorbed by thc American culture whose traditions originated in
patriarchal societies of the past. The woman w;iter has had a long history of struggle lor recognition in virtually all areas of literature which she has attempted. Not much has been preserved of what women have written or thought or said throughout history. This critical disregard, declares V irginia Wool t: was precisely the problem of past women writers. [n WoolPs view, masterpieces of literature do not just happen but are the product of many years of common thinking. Since women had no part as writers, no recorded precedent to follow, and little encouragement that anything written by a woman before had much literary value, it wus difTicult for them to find the initiating lorce enabling them to write honestly of their own thoughts and desires I . Moreover, throughout their history, women have nevcr had the economic freedom or the privacy, as men have had, to create great works
Some male critics provided inappropriate standards or writing judgment or women riters. They see that womcn have not achicved the same prominent place as men. They uslified their opinion saying that women have a limited range of experience and they do not venture so far beyond the home or hometown. They added that women are observers, not doers and they are generally conservative and nostalgic. My objcction to this kind of criticism is that oncn male- oriented culture is unable or unwilling to acknowledge the fact ~at women ofTer more to art than some trivial inconsequential themes. Because generalized attitudcs such as the former prevail among many critics, women writers onen nave bccn patronized, dismissed summarily, or have becn absorbed into the main stream of male art whcn they seem to conform to the established expectations of what art should be.
In 1975, Elaine Showaltcr said that” feminist criticism has allowed us to see meaning in what previously has been empty space,,1 .This study celebrates the intersection offeminism and thcatre. Feminist theory or dramatic representation addresses the absence of women from conventional theatre, while i~ struggles to construct alternative ways of seeing. Aflcr an examination of women dramatists as a group, some conclusions are
natists were not primarily reporters for the stage; they did philosophize; they did eh; and their social consciousness was readily apparent. In obvious contradiction to
car\icr observations, some contemporary wOlncn cxccHcd in realistic plays unif\cd )ugh action even as others forged new forms that won commercia\ accep\t\\’\cc.
Three trends are apparent. First, aller 1960, most American womcn dramatists ,duced their plays ofT rather than On-Broadway, and most abandoned the dramatie .lcturcs typicaHy associated with American realism in favor of those modeled on the ic, the argument, or the lyric poem. Second, after 1960, b\ack women dramat\sts exerted
ldcrship and achieved successes unprecedented in the history of American theater; and
though working ofT -Broadway, they continued to write plays rooted in social and omestic problems. Third, after 1970, increasing numbers of women turned to the fact of eir womaness for a new perspective, indeed for a new subject.
Feminist theatre emerged in the United States in the late 1960’s as an outgrowth of ~c women’s liberation Movcment. Whilc theatre groups of the 1960’s were attempting a renaissancc, simultaneously the women’s lihcmtion Movemcnt was emerging. Focusing on art and literature, feminist energies forced a re-evaluation of the relationship between women and art and literature. The label feminist is confusing as it holds various definitions. Whilc the term feminism describes a political theory, intended to revolutionize wciety, women’s liheration refers to cquality betwecn the sexes within the present system. Fcminists bclicvc that womcn have bccn locked ofT in a condition of lesser rcnlity oy the dominant patriarchal attitudes and cultural customs. Feminists often emphasize that Iheyare not simply seeking more room for women in the present social order. They want a new social order founded on humanistic values, somc of which urc traditionally ”femalc” and not rcspectcd in contemporary socicty.
The label of ”women’s theatre” is often used as an umbrella tenn to designate any theatre group which is composed primarily of women. The label of ”feminist tJleatre”, is also often used to designate any women’s theatre group which either stresses equal opportunities for women in theatre or appears to have political feminist intentions. If a lheatre group is composed of women and advocates or supports equal rights and opportunitics for womcn, then thc group is churaderizcd as a feminist theatre group. The fundamental goal of these groups can bc summcd up as wanting primarily to reach women by doing theatre. According to Charlotte Rea:
Feminist theatre rewomcn: ”Gct angry, get upset, look
at how you live”. It’s probably the
best way to arouse women ... and to force them to see how they live, what their options are, and, more importantly,الموضوع:English literature.مؤلف فرعي:Elayouty, Amin,مؤلف فرعي:Wahba, Freedy F,

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