Reorienting Scarlet Letters: Suzan-Lori Parks’ and Marina Carr’s Hester plays

O'Gorman, Siobhán (2015) Reorienting Scarlet Letters: Suzan-Lori Parks’ and Marina Carr’s Hester plays. Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance, 8 (1). pp. 39-60. ISSN 1755-0637


Request a copy
[img] PDF
s4.pdf - Whole Document
Restricted to Repository staff only

Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive


This article considers the figure of Hester from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (1850) and its adaptation to contemporary African American and Irish dramatic writing. It focuses on In the Blood (1999) and Fucking A (2001) by African American playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, as well as Irish dramatist Marina Carr’s By the Bog of Cats… (1998). These theatre-makers consciously manipulate The Scarlet Letter in that each Hester figure is a racially different and already marginalized woman who goes on to murder her child. Drawing on the work of Sara Ahmed, I argue that Parks and Carr combine complex and overlapping processes of adaptation to expose the slippery relationship between signification and affect, and to reveal how affective economies shape and control racial and gendered bodies as well as their movements in space. In doing so, these dramatists call into question accepted conventions of judgement, justice and morality. Through processes of domestication, recontextualization and actualization, Parks and Carr engage complexly with hotly debated issues within their individual national contexts and in the wider, western milieu that they share.

Keywords:Nathaniel Hawthorne, Theatre, Adaptation, contemporary drama, Irish studies, African-American Studies, Bmjconvert, NotOAChecked
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W440 Theatre studies
W Creative Arts and Design > W400 Drama
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
Related URLs:
ID Code:22957
Deposited On:18 Apr 2016 15:44

Repository Staff Only: item control page