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The relationship between women and the houses they inhabit has been repeatedly explored in literature and drama, where the house operates as a complex, often contradictory referent for women’s social position. The principal location of women’s lives through history, a house represents, on the one hand, a space of restrictions and limitation; and on the other, a creative domain. In drama, playwrights have used the setting of a house to inform conflicts surrounding women’s freedom, and have manipulated spatial dramaturgy to enrich these subjects. As ongoing experiments in the performance of gender, I am staging a series of workshops in the large mansion that houses the Women’s Studies and Gender Studies (WSGS) Program1 and the Gannon Center for Women and Leadership at my university. These include a workshop of Ibsen’s A Doll’s Housewith undergraduate student actors and a full production of Maria Irene Fornes’s Fefu and Her Friends, with faculty from several departments cast in the eight female roles. Both plays concern a house in relation to central female characters, and in both, this relationship is intricately connected to the play’s action and its significance. With these projects, I set out to explore the potential of staging in domestic architecture to amplify conflicts concerning women and houses in the plays. I have found, in fact, that staging in a house goes further, to reveal previously obscure dramaturgical aspects of the plays, the dynamics of which, in turn, suggest further explorations in feminist performance-based research, both academic and pedagogical. Potential extensions of these experiments include the use of live performance as a methodology for research on gender for disciplines beyond theatre, such as history and anthropology, and as means of pedagogical innovation and community-building across disciplines.


Author Posting. © Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013. This article is posted here by permission of the Johns Hopkins University Press for personal use, not for redistribution. The article was published in Theatre Topics, Volume 23, Issue 2, September 2013. http://dx.doi/org/10.1353/tt.2013.0028

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