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Staging the Writing Self: The Character of the Artist in Hélène Cixous’s Theater

From: Women in French Studies
Special Issue, Volume 5, 2014
pp. 36-47 | 10.1353/wfs.2014.0006

Abstract

Abstract:

The act of writing, for Hélène Cixous, offers women the freedom to articulate their true individuality. When writing theater, the author’s early intentions challenged voyeuristic traditions to free female subjects from masculine structures. In her more recent plays, however, Cixous’s writings undergo an essential process described as a decentralization of the self or “deselfing”. Escaping the “self” through theater, Cixous relinquishes dominant control of the space of creativity, permitting “others” a voice through the transformation of her actors. This essay will elaborate, in the first instance, how the theatrical event that happens on stage is the result of the writing event that happens to the author. As the process of writing theater becomes an essential aspect of the play, Cixous develops from creating the private performance of writing the self to publicly staging her experiences of writing.

Lindley’s analysis of Cixous’s recent plays Voile noire, voile blanche, On ne part pas, on ne revient pas and L’Histoire (qu’on ne connaîtra jamais) articulates the aesthetics of her theater: an eternal dramatic space beyond the restrictions of time, of societal structures and of western theater. Cixous’s dramatic characters are themselves writers, floundering in a theatrical space devoid of accepted frames of reference. With each endeavoring in vain to seize control of their narrative, the characters mirror Cixous’s own failed efforts to manipulate the creation of her dramatic writings which produces instead a myriad of possibilities. As this investigation demonstrates, Cixous stages her self’s experiences writing theater, confirming an impressive journey toward new forms of theater.



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