Violent Woman as a New Theatrical Character Type

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This book analyzes plays by Canadian women that deal with real-life incidents of violent women. In each of the plays under consideration, the playwright is theatrically engaged with the social meaning of the woman’s violent act, asking how it was interpreted in public discourse, and investigating the implications of that interpretation. The female playwrights in this study have each made individual choices about the form in which they will tackle their tricky subject matter, and their choices make for varied and intriguing relationships with their audiences. Each play is also placed in the context of its social milieu by means of an examination of some of the inter-textual discourse surrounding its appearance. In every case, the fundamental question remains: what and how does the violent woman mean?


“Dr. Scott, taking her cue on women who murder from a range of studies on the topic, argues that violent women register differently than violent men do ... Whereas men who murder are deviant from the terms of masculinity and its negotiation of the mind and body, women who murder are unsocialized and represent the threat of generating social instability.” – Dr. Ann Wilson, School of English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph

“Dr. Scott challenges many of society’s historical and hysterical responses to ‘women who kill,’ women who resort to violence for criminal, social, vengeful, self-protective, or heroic reasons, and in the process transgress traditionally gendered understandings of female passivity.” – Dr. Ric Knowles, Professor of Theatre Studies, School of English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph

“In her book on violent women in Canadian women’s theatre, Dr. Scott puts forth the intriguing thesis that violent women fascinate, horrify and intrigue us in public representations for much the same reason that mythological creatures do: they provide us with telling glimpses into the dark, nightmarish, chaotic depths of the human soul that such monsters represent, while reassuring us that the monsters themselves do not actually exist in real life.” – Dr. Moira Day, Associate Professor, University of Saskatchewan

Table of Contents

Preface by Ann Wilson
Introduction: Violent Women in Plays by Canadian Women
Still Stands the House by Gwen Pharis Ringwood
Charming and Rose: True Love by Kelly Jo Burke
Blood Relations by Sharon Pollock
1 Critical Hysteria: Famous by Carol Bolt
2 Hell Is Other Girls: The Shape of a Girl by Joan MacLeod
3 The Tragedy of Revenge
a. This is for You, Anna by the Anna Project
b. The Monument by Colleen Wagner
c. The Unnatural and Accidental Women by Marie Clements
d. Angélique by Lorena Gale
4 The Making of Warriors: Women as Action Heroes
a. The Making of Warriors by Sharon Pollock
b. Jehanne of the Witches by Sally Clark
c. The Danish Play by Sonja Mills
Works Cited

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