Dramas - Nick Dear and Liz Lochhead Essay

With mention to dramas by Nick Dear ( Zenobia ) and Liz Lochhead ( Medea ) discourse how feminist theory relates to the power battle in these dramas?

Theatre Babel ‘s production of Liz Lochhead ‘s Medea is the largest grossing Periphery production of all time ; the interlingual rendition is the fastest merchandising Euripides interlingual rendition of Medea in English and has earned Liz Lochhead the esteemed Saltire Award. Although inexorable and possibly feminist, the narrative of Medea seems to hold a truly wide entreaty, vibrating with theatre departers across the Earth. Clearly there is something instead different about Lochhead ‘s Medea.

Lochhead ‘s reading of the Euripides drama consciously rescues the original narrative from unpalatable presentations of inequality at every degree. The directorship reflects her attempts. In the theater Babel production, for illustration, the composing of the chorus changed. At its premiere, a mixed-sex chorus was used, with everyone in indistinguishable garb and do up. The chorus seemed to be dressed as eighteenth-century manner dolls in corseted frocks, but the male members of the chorus, despite being dressed as adult females, were however identifiably male. Liz Lochhead is said to hold had reserves about the mixed-sex chorus, and it is deserving observing that in the resurgences an all-female chorus was used. The indistinguishable frock, make-up and hairdos of the chorus served to underscore their integrity and besides to specify them as an entity separate from Medea. Uniquely, Lochhead ‘s Medea is written around a sense of the ‘otherness ‘ of the eponymic heroine. In the Theatre Babel production Maureen Beattie, attired in a vermilion, velvet, Russo-Polish eighteenth-century frock, delivered her lines in what appeared to be a European refugee speech pattern. In this manner Medea was defined as utterly foreigner ; non merely through her physical dissociation with the visual aspect of the chorus, but besides through her usage of linguistic communication and pronunciation. She was literally from another topographic point. This disaffection is evident from Lochhead ‘s published text. Before we meet Medea, . Lochhead describes her therefore:

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From off MEDEA calls out in a voice that is non Scots but a alien talking good English – an ‘incomer voice ‘

Medea is, so, twice removed from the normal criterions of power: non merely she is a alien talking English – emphasizing how far she is from her point of origin- but, surprisingly, she is the lone character who even speaks English. Medea represents an inversion of the norm, as her erudite standard English is no longer a passport to success or cutoff to normal discourse, but has become the unusual, foreign lingua, one time displaced into the Scots scene. As she says to the Scots-English speech production chorus:

no 1 loves a alien

everyone despises anyone the least spot different

‘see how she ties her scarf ‘ ‘that hair bizarre ‘

you walked by my house with eyes averted

turned your nose up at my family ‘s cookery odors

‘why ca n’t she be a bit more like us? ‘

state you Greeks

Although the text refers to the chorus of Greeks and the costumes seem to propose the 18th century, the unmistakeable modernness of the linguistic communication and the usage of Scots dialect do a physical connexion with the disaffection of the ‘other ‘ in 21st century Scotland. The Scots characters are perplexing, incongruous, from Medea ‘s point of position. Clearly the female lead is non the lone character fighting to get the better of the built-in exploitation of the anomic province: but the Scots find power in Numberss and similitude while hers is wrested only- ultimately- in indefinable force. Medea ‘sdifference, so, signals her exposure while keeping the key to her power, but besides, crucially, highlights the difference of the othersto her.Through her isolation, we become cognizant of the indispensable isolation and victim-nature of everyone, and shortly come to the galvanizing realization that the lone difference between people is the superficial one of get bying schemes.

In Nick Dear ‘sZenobiathe eponymic Queen besides functions as a tool, albeit in a somewhat different manner. She first enters the drama at the top of the really first scene, as her hubby Odainat pins a broach onto his boy ‘s tunic as a wages for contending good in the twenty-four hours ‘s conflict. When Hairan learns where the broach came from he protests a small, so the work forces, far from place, imbibe a toast to her, but Hairan speaks bitterly about his step-mother,

Hairan: the soldiers say she ne’er lets you in her bed, male parent

Odainat: I have with her five kids

Hairan: Five visits merely, they say

From the beginning the younger male characters, with the possible exclusion of Odainat, are portrayed as obscene insensitive clowns,

Odainat: I long to see my life once more, to walk with her through the colonnades,

Hairan: That ‘s about all you ‘ll be making. Odainat and Longinus ‘s treatment about adult females shortly becomes profoundly satirical,

Longinus: I have small experience of adult females – good, none, to be absolutely blunt, but certainly they all promote their progeny, and resent another ‘s claim?

Odainat: Yes, junior-grade green-eyed monsters they nibble at like nuts, to dull their appetency for powershe will populate in luxury, the married woman of a Consul-

Longinus: I ‘m certain that ‘s all she ‘s of all time wanted

When she eventually appears in individual, the Queen is contrasted aggressively, and instead divertingly, with her teenage boy,

Zenobia: It intrigues me, the life musculus of power,

Wahballat: It gives me a concern

Although less overtly feminist than Lochhead, Dear works difficult to protect his Queen character from going wholly nonsexual, and on occasion signals her muliebrity. When her boy asks her about her relationship with his male parent, she answers circumspectly, stating nil to belie Hairan ‘s claim in the first Scene. She instantly laments his adulthood, and tenderly reflects on his childhood: it becomes clear that she is a sensitive, maternal woman- and, despite being a covetous murderess who lies to her boy, Dear may good be appealing for the audience ‘s understanding for Queen Zenobia, as a adult female. Lochhead, excessively, strives to show Medea as a adult female with realistic jobs that we can associate to, claiming in her foreword that she did non add anything that was non present in the original Euripides drama,

How could that feminist critic happen him misogynist? Had she been reading the same drama?

The Athenian ( male ) society of his clip which Euripides ‘ scourged for its smug and conventional attitudes of unthinking high quality to aliens and adult females is unluckily non wholly unrecognizable, quaint or old-timer to me as I study mine two and a half thousand old ages subsequently.

Lochhead ‘s unconscious equation of aliens and adult females is stating, and points to another similarity between her drama and that of Nick Dear. Both authors tackle subjects of power through efforts to set up certain equalities among all their characters. Lochhead includes markers of similarity and gender sameness in the frock of her chorus ; Dear in the frock of his soldiers, the cross-dressing of Porphyry and the feminization of Malik.

Zenobia: My sex is immaterial! There is nil manfully in the field of conflict that I can non be!

Zenobia may non be presented as worse than a adult male, but she is surely non presented as any better. Indeed, from the manner she talks it seems as though the Queen ‘s primary motive is to equal and better work forces, in all his atrocious manifestations. It is a somewhat naAA?ve reading of the feminist thrust, as is the emphasized aggression that seems to characterize the adult female. Zenobia ‘s soliloquy at the beginning of Scene 4 seems to happen her settling into her function as a soldier, underscoring that anyone can be a slayer, that there is nil male about it, but it is virtually mechanical, even instead beautiful, procedure, if you can estrangeyourself from yourself,

Now I know why they like it so much. The sheer excitement of being left alive at the endThere ‘s no great enigma: you throw your weight through your shoulder, and swing. Sparks adorn your shield. A frisson rocks your arm as you strike a bone. A adult male ‘s eyes glister in your face, so melt. You step over his cadaver, and travel on. Always frontward. Never backMy first conflict. Now I am bloodied. Now I know why they like it so much.

Her victory are consistently extinguished throughout the drama, nevertheless, as if even the dramatist fears his creative activity and is continually working to sabotage her. After her concluding conquering at Palmyra, Zenobia turns to her boy and muses cryptically, Strange, though, how when you ‘ve achieved what you most want, it does non fulfill. ( Scene 9, p.57 ) There instantly follows a humourous exchange where her boy ‘s gender is called into inquiry and Zenobia, snarling into her function as neurotic female parent, is made a pathetic and amusing figure as the minute of her greatest power, as she attempts to emasculate her boy bychasing him around with her blade. There is more Freudian symbolism, and more power undermining, in the treatment between Syrus and Cato, where Syrus explains to his friend why the Queen wo n’t hold sex,

Syrus: It ‘s energy, you seeShe saves it all for contending. Sleep togethering coiled like a spring. Sleep togethering killing machine. She ‘ll cut your prick off for a trophy – bent it round her cervix. Death with breasts, mate, I ‘m stating you.

Cato: You ‘ll stand house. But I pity the chap who has to kill her

Syrus: Like running a spear through your female parent

Like the identically clothed chorus in Lochhead ‘s Medea, when dressed in armor, everyone must move like a soldier, and gender becomes beside the point. This is why Zabda ‘s reaction to her injuring blade is so amusive and upseting. Rather than handling the hurting as hurting, or as a too bad but inevitable conflict lesion, he eroticises it. His reaction is diverting because it is so inappropriate: merely minutes after the levelling scene of armored soldiers contending, all Zabda ‘s poetic premises about Zenobia ‘s resistless muliebrity inundation back. The dramatist ‘s understandings once more appear to lie with the powerful female.

Zabda: Aagh the hurting! Where she touched my face! Delicious hurting! Her fingers, like snowflakes on my tegument. She could slit every cord in my organic structure for one more touch of those custodies!

Similarly, in the most celebrated production of Lochhead ‘s Medea, Theatre Babel ‘s chorus achieved a more comprehensive representation of adult females by declining to individualize any of them throughout the drama. Their unvarying visual aspect and synchronised motion served to understate differences in the age and visual aspect of the histrions, finally with their ideas exceeding their physical presence. Medea ‘s initial reference to the chorus is loaded,

ladies of all clip ladies of this topographic point

and others

The ladies of all clip is aimed at the chorus but Lochhead appears to put the chorus with a certain eternity, in add-on to their meta spaceless quality as intertextual referents. Kraus writes on the alone function that the chorus plays in structuring theatrical ruse in Medea,

In this drama, peculiarly, the rhetorical ability of Medea sophe is cardinal, and enables her to pull strings audiences inside and outside the drama, going no less than a new dramatist building her ain secret plan. And in her progressively independent secret plan, assorted phase conventions, including that of the sympathetic female chorus ( 201 ) , are – possibly – stretched ( metatheatrically ) to their bounds: that is, we are meant to oppugn the plausibleness of the choral support, or ( better ) to detect its artificiality.

While ladies of this topographic point locates the chorus specifically in the dramatic clip, it also- due of the location of the chorus near to the audience, implicitly includes the adult females of the audience. Although this topographic point is textually Greece, the dry theatrical deduction is that it is every bit relevant to the adult females here and now anyone of any clip. Again, we find this sort of effort at time-defying feminist solidarity in the work of Nick Dear. Although Zenobia respects Porphyry with some intuition, as a adult female capable of feigning for her male camouflage, the tone is to a great extent dry. Dear ‘s purpose appears to be to pull attending to the similarities between the adult females ; both strong willed, both androgynous, both passionate. However, their contrasting feminisms are exemplified twice. In the first case, Zenobia is weak and must swear Porphyry to reconstruct her wellness. Porphyry ‘s averment Longinius is a good adult male is met with the Queen ‘s acrimonious rejoinder There are no good work forces. The 2nd exchange, right at the terminal of the drama, finds Porphyry in a weak place, as the disillusioned immature adult female attempts to interrupt away from Zenobia ‘s service,

Zenobia: There are walls you know, there are bounds and restraints, on what is available to us!

Porphyry: I tear down the walls! It ‘s what I do!

Zenobia: I build them! There ‘s our difference

As Zenobia becomes progressively monstrous, Porphyry ‘s entreaty grows. While the younger adult female relishes her muliebrity, and disguises herself merely to prosecute her dream of analyzing scientific discipline, Zenobia ‘s camouflage is an terminal in itself. She wants to be like a adult male because she perceives strength and aristocracy as uniquely masculine qualities which, as a adult female, she can non be credited with. Nor does she see such qualities in any other adult females. Immediately after the first conflict, her touched servant Malik removes her armor and they discuss their eccentric genders. Malik wishes he were a adult female, comprehending muliebrity in the mode despised by modern women’s rightists such as Camille Paglia and Germaine Greer- that is, as a deficiency.

Malik: You have things done to you, you do non hold to make them

Zenobia: I hate womenTheir flabby weaponries, their makeup, their odor of cooking oil

Malik: This is why you sent off your girls?

Zenobia: Womans are a distraction in war.

Malik: Yes, they were reasonably.

Zenobia: No they were n’t. They were merely weak.

Dear ‘s concluding assault on Zenobia comes through his undermining of her really reality- she is transformed into a dumb show doll and a grotesque sketch superhero. Both Dear and Lochhead make strong statements about retribution and salvation and parentage, but these are, possibly, about excessively open. Zenobia ‘s narrative is a feminist phantasy wrought by a masculine imaginativeness ; it features shocking force towards work forces and a adult female who dreams to be more male- but the dud must be taken in context. The slaying of males is framed by the nucleus hierarchy: although the Queen has many males on her hit list, her existent mark is herself, a female- and,by extension– all females. Her contempt for adult females is flooring in portion merely because it is surprising and unusual, and as portion of the elephantine transgender game that constitutes the drama does experience instead unneeded.

From one position both Medea and Zenobia depict a universe steeped in sexism of assorted grades of nuance, from the perennial tortures of the soldiers to contemn, penalty and humiliation heaped on the supporters for neglecting as adult females, foremost, and subsequently as human existences. The males do on occasion have their merely sweets, but the fact remains that every event in both dramas somehow springs awkwardly from woman-hating attitudes. Throughout the whole of Zenobia, it is ill-defined whether Nick Dear is misconstruing feminism, satirizing it, or characterizing female aggression as irrational craze and a cold thrust for masculine power. The inquiry is disposed for the Zenobia, too- whose docket is driven wholly by a hollow self-contradictory desire to be other, while besides winingasother.

Although both dramas circulate around subjects of sexism and misogynism, it does non needfully follow that the film is criminal, lazy, or worthless. As Medea and Zenobia are concerned with maltreatment, maltreatment of everyone and everything in every way, they manage to corner the market on it, and uphold this monopoly as a agency of justifying themselves for continually representating it. Clearly depiction is non the same as endorsing,but it can be.In Medea and peculiarly Zenobia we find constructed in sexism the most permeant and intangible challenge faced by the supporters. Clearly merely puting the Bride with surprising, virtually supernatural self-control and staying power does non represent postfeminist authorization and possibly one of the more unfortunate and masculine of the supporter ‘s features is the inability or involuntariness to contend the less obvious but more permeant sexism on any more than the most personal degree.

The fact that neither character lifts a finger to alter this universe of endemic misogynism might suggest that the seemingly woman-hating frame around her character is non, in fact, the point. Like any fabulous hero, Zenobia finds her mission directed by symbols, and the glaring misogynism that appears to organize the background of her universe is non to be taken excessively literally. The regular markers of woman-hating in Zenobia are, it seems to me, non to be read as anything more than extensions of the semiotic value of the nucleus woman hater males. Zenobia ‘s choler towards herself has extended into a general wrath to all those associated with her unfairness, male and female, but this does non needfully amount to a masculine hatred of the female, on her portion. Nor does it amount to a feminine hatred of females, or any sort of irrational or juvenile aggression that might be suggested in male adolescent gustatory sensation for force. Zenobia ‘s psychological association of everyone responsible for her calamity is indistinguishable to the semiotic connexion of all the misogynous events and characters in the drama. This drama is after all hyper existent, a phantasy and a myth before it is anything else, and as such must be read as a symphonic look of semiotic and psychological equality.

Bibliography

Aston, Elaine,Introduction to Feminism and Theatre,United kingdom: Routledge ( 1994 )

Dear, Nick,Zenobia,United kingdom: Faber & A ; Faber ( 1995 )

Diamond, Elin,Unmaking Mimesis: Essaies on Feminism and Theatre, UK: Routledge ( 1997 )

Euripides,Medea,United kingdom: Penguin Classicss ( 1963 )

Greer, Germaine,The Female Eunoch,United kingdom: Paladin ( 1971 )

Greer, Germaine,The Whole Woman,United kingdom: Doubleday ( 1999 )

Kraus, ChristinaReview Discussion of Christopher Pelling erectile dysfunction. Grecian Calamity and the Historianonline here http: //www.dur.ac.uk/Classics/histos/1999/kraus.html

Lochhead, Liz.MedeaUnited kingdom: Nick Hern Books ( 2000 )

Merill, Lisa.When Romeo Was a Woman: Charlotte Cushman and Her Circle of Female Spectators ( Triangulations: Lesbian/Gay/Queer Theater/Drama/Performance )United states: University of Michigan Press ( 1999 )

Paglia, CamilleSexual PersonnaeUnited kingdom: Vintage ( 1991 )

Pollock, GriseldaDifferencing the Canon: Feminist Desire and the Writing of Art ‘s HistoriesUnited kingdom: Routledge ( 1999 )

Tronto, Joan,Apologizing racism, sexism, and other signifier [ s ] of bias: Otherness in moral and feminist theory ( Legal theory workshop series )Toronto: University of Toronto ( 1987 )

hypertext transfer protocol: //facstaff.uww.edu/shiblesw/humorbook/h9fem.html

Lochhead, Liz.MedeaUnited kingdom: Nick Hern Books ( 2000 ) p.6

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