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Lives in Play

Autobiography and Biography on the Feminist Stage
Ryan Claycomb

Life writing's significance in women's theater and performance from the '70s to the present


Description

Lives in Play explores the centrality of life narratives to women’s drama and performance from the 1970s to the present moment. In the early days of second-wave feminism, the slogan was “The personal is the political.” These autobiographical and biographical “true stories” have the political impact of the real and have also helped a range of feminists tease out the more complicated aspects of gender, sex, and sexuality in a Western culture that now imagines itself as “postfeminist.”

The book’s scope is broad, from performance artists like Karen Finley, Holly Hughes, and Bobby Baker to playwrights like Suzan-Lori Parks, Maria Irene Fornes, and Sarah Kane. The book links the narrative tactics and theatrical approaches of biography and autobiography and shows how theater artists use life writing strategies to advance women’s rights and remake women’s representations. Lives in Play will appeal to scholars in performance studies, women’s studies, and literature, including those in the growing field of auto/biography studies.

“ A fresh perspective and wide-ranging analysis of changes in feminist theater for the past thirty years . . . a most welcome addition to the literature on theater, in particular scholarship on feminist practices.”
Choice 

“Helps sustain an important history by reviving works of feminist theater and performance and giving them a new and refreshing context and theorical underpinning . . . considering 1970s performance art alongside more conventional play production.” 
—Lesley Ferris, The Ohio State University

Photo by Andrew Whittuck of performance artist Bobby Baker, Kitchen Shrine, 1991. Performing Action No. 13: “Showing all the marks” on the cake stand. Courtesy Arts Administration, London.

Ryan Claycomb is Associate Professor of English, West Virginia University.

Praise / Awards

  • "Helps sustain an important history by reviving works of feminist theater and performance and giving them a new and refreshing context and theorical underpinning . . . considering 1970s performance art alongside more conventional play production."
    —Lesley Ferris, Ohio State University

  • "...a most welcome addition to the literature on theater, in particular scholarship on feminist practices."
    —M.D. Whitlach, CHOICE
  • "Through a series of detailed analyses that make use of narrative and performance theory alike, Claycomb illuminates the ways in which feminist auto/biographical performance utillizes concepts of performativity alongside more traditional notions of the embodiesd self to advance a feminist politics... the vast body of work that Claycomb situates as feminist auto/biographical peformance speaks to the politcal potiential of the genre."
    --Modern Drama
  • "For scholars of feminist theatre and feminist theory, there is much to recommend Lives in Play. Claycomb has an impressive grasp of these fields, and makes a strong case for their coconstitutive nature; the book is admirably nuanced in its analysis, and expansive in its objects of study... for the specialist audience for whom Claycomb writes, and as a corrective to trends in the canon formation of feminist theatre criticism, the book is valuable, and perhaps even necessary, in the strong case it makes for returning dismissed or understudied works by female playwrights and performance artists to a place of critical value."
    --Theatre Survey

     
  • "Ryan Claycomb’s monograph provides a comprehensive overview of the work of significant feminist playwrights in the 1990s."
    --Theatre Research International
  • "This volume will be of particular interest to feminist scholars, and those studying the epistemologies of solo, biographical, and autobiographical performances."
    --The Drama Review
  • "Offers insightful observations about the meaning of the body in autobiographical performance and the role of the audience in the specific context of feminist performance...Offers a valuable introduction to students or non-specialists seeking background in this particular field."
    --Amelia Howe Kritzer, Comparative Drama Conference Series

Look Inside

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 272pp.
  • 1 B&W photograph.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2012
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11840-3

Add Hardcover of 'Lives in Play' to Cart
  • $55.00 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2014
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-03598-4

Add Paper of 'Lives in Play' to Cart
  • $31.00 U.S.

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Keywords

  • Autobiography, Biography, Life Writing, Theater, Performance, Feminist Theater, Women and Drama, Women and Performance, Performance Art, Theatre, Kate Bornstein, Bobby Baker, Karen Finley, Sarah Kane, Maria Irene Fornes, Suzan-Lori Parks, Anna Deavere Smith, Emily Mann, Eve Ensler, Vagina Monologues

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