Producing Absence: Theatrical Representations of Domestic Space

Jeanmarie Higgins. "Producing Absence: Theatrical Representations of Domestic Space." Diss. U of Washington, 2011.

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Julia Kristeva describes the tendency to jettison what frightens us before we take it into consciousness as abjection : "Not me. Not that. But not nothing, either." Producing Absense considers how abjection works to negotiate the unacknowledged, the forgotten, and the dead through the construction of domestic spaces in theatrical texts and performances. In Sophocles' Ajax , the correspondences between private and public spaces in ancient Athens are negotiated by the domestic animals--oxen, goats, sheep--whose blood sacrifices ghost on the stage altar in the orchestra. In Wallace Shawn's 1990 play, The Fever , the story forgotten but remembered onstage is the bloody tale of how the poor were exploited so that "the rich" could become rich. In Marie NDiaye's 1999 play, Hilda , the main character herself is abjected, a homemaker-turned-domestic-worker who is obsessively discussed hut never represented onstage. And in Pat Graney's 2009 dance-theatre piece, House of Mind , the dead are activated by dancers' bodies, within a mise-en-scène staged as a museum of a family's life, haunted with a soundscape of echoes and voices, a performance that activates the domestic spaces we think we have forgotten.

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Status of Research or Work: 
Completed/published