Teaching and Resisting Rape Culture #2

This conference roundtable was inspired by a student who, when describing the plot of Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire, wrote the phrase “Blanche gets raped.” In the subjectless passive voice construction of this phrase, I saw the need to more closely examine how we receive and interpret sexual violence plots and representations.

Vivian Leigh and Marlon Brando in the 1951 film version of Streetcar.

Below, I’ve listed a few key sources about rape and representation.

Lisa Fitzpatrick, Rape on the Contemporary Stage (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018)

Solga, Kim. “Rape’s Metatheatrical Return: Rehearsing Sexual Violence Among the Early Moderns.” Theatre Journal (2006): 53-72.

April De Angelis’s 2014 BBC4 radio piece “Theatre of the Abused” outlines some key issues about the politics of representing sexual violence. De Angelis was inspired by the play Nirbhaya by Yaël Farber (with substantial contributions from the ensemble), which is about the 2012 attack and murder of Jyoti Singh in Delhi, India. She questions whether it is productive to depict sexual violence on stage. @13:00 De Angelis speaks with The Guardian theatre critic Lyn Gardner and @ 14:48 with Dr. Lucy Nevvit on theatre and violence. The piece does not engage with how categories of sexuality, race, and class impact the issue and it only discusses women as victims and survivors, so it is limited in its scope. Still, the first 16 minutes offers a lot to discuss regarding representation within the theatre apparatus. (Content warning: Please note, the section on the show Freak by Anna Jordan @ 22:00 includes a graphic monologue so please listen with caution.)

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