Violence, Women, and the Stage

Did you read this 2/24 NYT article “Violence that Art Didn’t See Coming”, which was inspired by Alabama Neuroscience Professor Amy Bishop’s recent opening of fire on 6 colleagues that resulted in the death of 3? If you didn’t, you should because it provides a fairley extensive and interesting scan of the way violent/criminal women have been depicted (or not) in/by various media over the past century.

What’s also noteworthy is that the author Sam Tanenhaus considers everything from television and film to novels (including crime fiction by women and about women) and avant-garde performance art, but Tanenhaus DOES NOT address stage explorations of women and violence.

So let’s do it.  Let’s name some plays that contain violent, murderous and/or criminal(minded) women.

And in these plays, is the malevolent woman a central or minor character, and how do things end for her…is she reformed, forgiven, punished, imprisoned, murdered, etc.?  Does she commit foul acts onstage or off? Does the play call for graphic depiction of violence, blood, etc., or is it benign?  Let’s see where the stage stands in relation to Tanenhaus’ argument, which by the way (in case you didn’t or don’t plan to read it) is that “Art” has failed to accurately depict the scope of real life crime/violence committed by women. Discuss.

Oh, and I’ll start us off with a few plays, old and obvious ones: Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Euripides’ Medea.

On a Lighter Note…

Because Friday is a Fun Day, below is a clip of a May ’09 British TV interview with Tom Hanks, in which he sings “Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Pop,” the childhood rap in Big. (Clip is 3 mins., ff to 1 min. mark to hear the rap)

6 Responses to “Violence, Women, and the Stage”
  1. Josh says:

    I actually have a ton of plays with criminal or violent minded women, and in all of them the woman is the lead character. Women tend to be a lot bolder and more outspoken than mine in my plays.

    Anyway, Sarah Kane comes to mind. Also, the Greeks.

  2. Wayne C. says:

    Blood Relations by Sharon Pollock. A play about Lizzy Borden (she possibly killed her parents with an axe). The trial caused a sensation and inspired a gory children’s rhyme.

    • nstodard says:

      Wayne, you read my mind…I love it! After writing that post, I thought I remembered hearing about a play about ole LB, and I got sidetracked and didn’t investigate it.

      Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother 40 whacks and when she saw what she had done she gave her father 41. What a terrible rhyme! Isn’t there a dark story behind “Ring around the roses” also? Anyway, I will never forget being in grade school and having to read a book called “True Crimes,” which included Lizzie’s story in it. Eek.

      • Wayne C. says:

        I’m not sure if it’s it true, but I was told “Ring Around The Rosie” comes from the plague days.
        People kept posie (sweet smelling herbs) in their pockets to ward off the plague. It didn’t work obviously. “We all fall down” (dead)

        Rosie= scarlet blemish of bubonic plague (rosy red rash in a circle.

  3. Josh says:

    Ring around the roses is about the plague.

    “Ring around the rosies.”= the rings you get around your eyes when you catch it.

    “Pockets full of posies.” =People would carry satchels of flowers and potpourri to hold up to their noses so they didn’t have to smell all the piled up dead bodies.

    “Ashes, ashes.”= Burning of said dead bodies OR some have said it used to be “a-SHOO a-SHOO” as in sneezing when you’re sick.

    “We all fall down!”= We all die, duh.

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