Invitation

1 of 1

Various

Madwoman

14 Dec 1982

"This is a performance about women and madness: using theatrical and visual means. It's an analysis of the struggle of women to regain control over their bodies and minds, using stories from mythology, fairytales, witchcraft trails, contemporary accounts of women in mental institutions, and from my own experience.

This performance takes place both within and in front of the audience. There is a traditional audience/performing area set up, with rows of chairs facing a portable projection screen, with speakers on one side and chairs and tape-machine on the other. A slide projector is behind the audience. There are three performers: one is seated in front of the audience, and the other two are seated in the audience, one at either end of the back row. In this way, the performers form a triangle which encloses the audience within it.

The performers take on many different roles: Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Viginia Woolf, Joan of Arc, and various anonymous women who talk of the shock treatment, excessive medication, and intimidation that is part of modern psychiatry's "handling" of women. In addition, my voice on the tape talks about my own experience within my family, on the street, in my dreams, where harrassment and exclusion from language and dominant culture cause me to frequently question my own sanity and power. These thoughts are conveyed within humorous, entertaining anecdots, in an attempt to foster identification with the audience, and to make the "I" in the stories more accessible, more generalized.

The slide images work in counterpoint to the text, placing mythological references into a contemporary context; or giving historical reference to modern-day experiences: images of witches, evil stepmothers, store-window mannequins, advertising images.

Today, more women are seeking psychiatric help than ever before (from experts who are usually white, middle class, and male). More women than men suffer breakdowns, take valium, get depressed, get lobotomized, go "crazy" - or seem to. This performance tries to analyze this situation, and at the same time confronts the audience, asking to question its own experiences, asking people to look at madness (and in particular, at madwomen) within the context of politics, of oppression, and culture."

- Marusia Bociurkiw, 1982