“Rethinking the category of the woman”, as Judith Butler claims, maybe we need first to place the “new woman” in an imaginary or mythical landscape and to meditate on what it means in the present day to be a “100% human personality”.
First and foremost, it means a human being that is not afraid that she will be killed by another human being just because of the fact she is a woman. And then, it means that the anger of women that comes from the monstrous effects of misogyny is acknowledged as a natural survival motion. There is no doubt that anger is an emotion that is rooted in pain because of any kind of discrimination; demonizing the emotion, however, doesn’t allow us to discover surprising features of behavor that are connected with it. Anger does not contain only the quality of tension, aggression or shouting; it sometimes does not include the above three at all. Often it can serve as an inspiration to someone’s decisions and can bring forward braveness, humor and persistence. An angry woman can be relaxed, determined, passionate, fierce, charming, funny and can fumble in the taboo landscape of this emotion in order to “find her/a truth”.
“It may be that the awareness of anger, not just anger itself, functions to move a woman along in the feminist identity development process. Anger occurs throughout the lifespan but comes into sharper focus at various points in time”, writes Deborah Cox in Women’s Anger.
The identity of the “new woman” is in a process of development, and simplifying the above quote we could say that her stage avatar comes to life during these various time points.
In any performative decision of the feminine character, whether in solo or collective narratives, the “new woman” is not alone. We traverse the time of solidarity and togetherness. The present area demands another kind of mental flexibility and emotional intelligence for the purpose of social survival. The feminist movement nowadays is creating a safe space for the past collective conditioning and traumas to blend into a communal storytelling – not a personal infelicity; and that pertains to performing arts and the feminine anger on stage.
Think of Medea or Antigone or Miss Julie or any other female character from the Western canon that had good reasons to be mad. Some of them indeed express and share their anger; the emotion of anger for an unfair action is indeed the drive of the character as the plot is originally written. Yet, these heroines don’t have allies. They fight mostly alone against family, friends, lovers and the whole societal system. Consequently, their feminine anger is a lonely one and seems discrepant to the surrounding characters.
The heroines today have a different background; they have a sweet conspiracy with femininities globally and the stage language is being enriched with stories that expose the repressed emotions with such empathy that it doesn’t “trigger” the spectator. In other words, they offer an encounter with the emotion instead of showing how the emotion looks on stage. In the contemporary development of acting and performing, this encounter works in both directions: it is happening or can happen because on one hand, there is now a tremendously active feminist movement that supports feminist theories on stage, and on the other hand performing arts inspire the advance of the modern feminist movement. “In the early 2000’s, we saw a feminism that was characterized by individual narratives. It was said that women are very different from one another and the question was raised whether they really had anything much in common. Today, feminist narratives have a much more collective feel”, notes Cathrine Holst in The New Feminism. Imagine a femininity somewhere in the U.S.A. or in Europe during the early 2000’s being in the audience at a performance with female performers that deals with the topic of women’s oppression by the broken value system and the emotion of anger. Imagine now the same femininity in the present days as an audience member – watching a similar performance in terms of the theme. In the first case of the millennials, the social mindset was around the idea that “women are very different from each other and we need to deal with every one as a unique individual”, whereas in the second imaginary set up we deal with today’s “we” ideology. With the same “we”, LASTESIS theater collective decided to start their manifesto Verbrennt eure Angst. Now imagine, how would the first woman in the audience connect with the topic, being herself under the social influence of the “women are very different from each other” mantra.
Certainly, we are all unique and the events that we experience are unique for each of us; but the apotheosis of individualism has been proved to be a dangerous tactic of disorientation concerning women’s accountability and can result in the “lonely anger” on stage – the impulsive, the aggressive and the “repellent” one.
Being included as a woman in the huge hug that the new feminist wave generously offers today is a demonstrative relief of common emotional truths. The feminist storytelling acquires a collective feel. A polyphony of heroines singing their common grounds and –stagewise– this opens widely the space to perform and communicate the emotion of anger with deep awareness, integrity, suavity, softness, loose physicality, a calm voice and humor. The magical “we” allows us to encapsulate possible adverse characteristics –in order to refer to the emotion of anger on stage– and construct the meeting point where we can practice and process narratives in which we can detect the “new woman”.
To be continued..
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