By Geraldine Harris Elaine Aston
Relocating around the barriers of mainstream and experimental circuits, from the affective pleasures of commercially winning exhibits corresponding to Calendar ladies and Mamma Mia! to the feminist chances of new burlesque and stand-up, this e-book bargains a lucid and obtainable account of renowned feminisms in modern theatre and function.
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Extra info for A Good Night Out for the Girls: Popular Feminisms in Contemporary Theatre and Performance
In other words, they are recycled and, therefore, reassuring’ (ibid: 62; original emphasis). Although cognisant of the hierarchical divide between the ‘profitable’ and the ‘pleasurable’, our critical interest resides, as Eve Sedgwick would have or put it, in ‘loosening up’ this dualism with a view to thinking otherwise: to revising a view of the popular (women’s) show as merely a disposable form of strictly unprofitable (in the social sense) culture. So, for instance, in respect to Calendar Girls, the line of feminist enquiry pursued here contrasts with that of the theatre critics who variously trashed the show on account of its popular credentials, wrote anxiously of its astonishing commercial success, and dismissively of its emotional (rather than intellectual) appeal to women’s audiences of a ‘certain age’.
As a cultural representation of the WI, the show, like the film and the real-life calendar girls phenomenon, others the jam and Jerusalem image of the WI. With the exception of their leader Marie, the WI-ers from Knapeley dis-identify with their well behaved, Calendar Girls 31 local rivals, the High Ghyll Institute, and while the play dramatises internecine tensions and frictions over the damage the calendar might do to the organisation’s reputation, the audience is empathetically aligned with the desire to modernise the WI’s image.
The tension in the second-wave feminist signification of the braless body between ‘sexual liberation’ and the desire to ‘desexualise the breast’ (ibid: 160; original emphasis) is refigured as a different kind of tension: between the sexual liberation of an older woman’s body and the de-domestication of her ‘proper’, sexless (aging) body. The unintentional distraction of the male gaze ‘crashes’ the expectation of how an older woman is meant to appear and to behave, while the ‘feminine gaze’, for whom Calendar Girls 33 the gesture of sexual liberation is intended, takes in, breathes, the moment of liberation.
A Good Night Out for the Girls: Popular Feminisms in Contemporary Theatre and Performance by Geraldine Harris Elaine Aston