Unconventional femininity in the Works of Suzan-Lori Parks and Marina Carr

O'Gorman, Siobhán (2009) Unconventional femininity in the Works of Suzan-Lori Parks and Marina Carr. Platform, 4 (1). pp. 79-94. ISSN 1751- 0171

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By examining the work of Marina Carr and Suzan-Lori Parks, this paper explores the
ways in which women’s writing within the western institution of theatre challenges our
perceptions of femininity and exposes the performativity of gender. Each of these
playwrights became more successful as her work moved towards more traditional styles
of theatre. My argument is that, although the movement of these playwrights towards
more ‘patriarchal’ styles can be viewed in a negative light from a feminist perspective,
productive feminist meanings can still be provided by such works through their
denaturalizations of gender. Drawing on Judith Butler’s essay, ‘Performative Acts and
Gender Constitution’, the paper offers detailed analyses of Carr’s Portia Coughlan
(1996) and Parks’s In the Blood (1999) in terms of unconventional femininity and
performativity. This article argues that the protagonists of these plays fail to perform
culturally acceptable femininity and consequentially suffer what Butler would consider
to be the ‘punitive’ actions of society (reprimanding and social exclusion). These
marginalized protagonists usurp cultural paradigms of femininity and ultimately reveal
gender as a repetitious social performance. The use of realist conventions has
contributed to the mainstream success of these playwrights, allowing such feminist
themes to reach a wider audience.

Keywords:Theatre, Drama, Irish culture, American culture, Feminism
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)
ID Code:22962
Deposited On:18 Apr 2016 11:09

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