Thursday, 4 December 2014

écriture féminine again (1)

For a long time, I struggled to describe the genius of Pamela Carter's scripts. As much as I enjoyed Slope, Paul Bright and What We Know, the best I could come up with was 'it's a bit like contemporary dance'. Carter avoids the simplistic linear narrative, and approaches a topic from several angles: her work can justly be called a meditation on a topic rather than a story about it. She fragments and examines, leaving the audience to connect the action.

Then I went to a lecture by Cara Berger. She explained that French philosopher Cixous had suggested a form called  écriture féminine. Her experiments with a performance based on this alternative strategy led to the idea of a fragmented narrative, that examined an event not as an external object, but part of a relationship with the subject... different perspectives, connected to the person observing... and I had an explanation for Carter's writing.

Then I bumped into her and asked if she knew of Cixous. She does, and in more detail than I do. 

At last, I can say with confidence: through the use of écriture
féminine, Carter side-steps the traditional approach of the narrative script and discovers new ways of presenting performance. In place of a gradual unfolding, she offers conflicting perspectives and an emphasis not on character in isolation - or as an active force pushing forward the plot - but on the various relationships within and without the play. 

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