Spirals from the Matrix: The Feminist Plays of Martha Boesing, An Analysis
Gillespie, Patti P.
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Martha Boesing is a feminist playwright who in association with the feminist theatre, At the Foot of the Mountain, has written and produced feminist plays since 1974. Boesing has contributed to the development of feminist dramatic theory and criticism in the United States. In this dissertation, Boesing’s twenty-two published and produced plays are analyzed. The analyses are placed in the context of the experimental theatre movement of the 1960s and the women's movement of the 1970s in the United States and in Minneapolis, where At the Foot of the Mountain is located. The scripts are analyzed for recurrent patterns in the use of the stage space, the development of the characters, the organization of the dramatic structure and form, and the manipulation of the language and music. Throughout the analyses, particular attention is given to the ways in which Boesing's feminist thinking informs her work so that feminist theatre may be distinguished from other forms of experimental theatre. In addition to the analyses of the written texts, a video of a performance and the film of a play are analyzed. Finally, feminist dramatic theory as represented by Boesing is compared to relevant feminist theories of literature and film. Thus, this dissertation is a case study of a radical feminist playwright in the United States, who consciously rejected the commercial theatre to work regionally, and who, in a feminist theatre, produced a significant body of work as a feminist in a feminist context. Boesing's strategies of writing can therefore be seen as representative of a successful feminist playwright.