Maria Irene Fornes, Night Program Notes 44-45 In And What of the Night? 7 Boxes (3.5 linear feet) Name of creator. These eyes do not look like our eyes. But it did seem like a whole life, a whole career. Her punishment focuses on issues of gender and sexuality, on women's ‘evil and mysterious nature.’ Her hallucinated torturers systematically brutalize her into an admission that “the human being is of the masculine gender” (25). The original off-off-Broadway situation centered very much around the playwrights. aesthetic) authority over the action that is nowhere to be seen in the world of the play. I don't want to give in to it. Jill Dolan, The Feminist Spectator as Critic (Ann Arbor/London: UMI Research Press, 1988) 109. I sometimes feel that when Fornes gets stuck, when action stalls, when she wants to change tempo, she just has her character recite a list: the contents of the suitcases in The Danube, the quotidian tasks of The Conduct of Life. If you don't recognize it … (Whispering.) Brecht's decidedly Derridean observation may, as a result, be applied to an analysis of Fornes' work, which is accompanied by echoes and tracings of Brecht's influence as sketched on theater in general to reappear combined with the “traces of other movements and features” such as the theater of the absurd, to give Fornes' work its “fully worked figure” or character. Susan Sontag (/ ˈ s ɒ n t æ ɡ /; January 16, 1933 – December 28, 2004) was an American writer, filmmaker, philosopher, teacher, and political activist. This seemed to me like the most absurd thing in the world. Fornés, María Irene (1930-2018) Biografie. She objected to its implications of hopelessness because she wants the play to remain open-ended, with Sarita's question hanging in the air. As each actor becomes a collection of cultural images, he or she appears to offer only a parody of profundity. When Mae brings back a pamphlet from the doctor in order to explain Lloyd's disease, she admits she cannot read it, “I tried to read it and it was too difficult. I was fifteen when I came here. 4 (Summer 1990); William W. Demastes, ‘Re-inspecting the Crack in the Chimney: Chaos Theory from Ibsen to Stoppard’, New Theatre Quarterly, X, No. He was moving and clearing out junk, she said, and she collects junk. It was … Fefu and her friends might all be said to play in some way the role of the melancholic heterosexual woman, compulsively performing what they refuse to mourn: the repudiated desire for another woman.4 Julia struggles to make more and more believable her performance of the “prayer” that condemns women as undesirable, and she does so precisely because so much is at stake for her in the act of identifying herself with, much less desiring, Fefu. Delgado, Maria M., and Caridad Svich, editors. While critics have been quick to recognize such traps of mysticism and metaphysics in the modernist project, it has perhaps been less obvious that postmodernist thinking on form also has its problems. There's something in you that changes. “It holds together. Your formal theater training was in the American Method but the off-Broadway theater that excited you at the time was not at all in that tradition. Maria Irene Fornes is one of the best-kept secrets of the American theater. Stephanie K. Arnold, “Multiple Spaces, Simultaneous Action and Illusion,” in The Theatrical Space, James Redmond, ed. The former includes a stage direction that does not appear in the latter, one that makes Fefu the (absent) addressee of Shakespeare's sonnet. And as in Foreman, when Isidore gestures, we hear a chime. Mud, dealing as it does with today's oscillation between new and old scientific paradigms, between thermodynamic entropy and biological evolution, may indeed be a telling of the cosmogonic myth of our time; the characters, rather than discussing the new science, are living examples of the characteristic instability of its systems. Two new books—The Theater of Maria Irene Fornes (Johns Hopkins University Press/PAJ) and Conducting a Life (Smith and Kraus)—wisely sidestep any sort of critical closure on the subject of Fornesia. Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Founded as much on the sexualities it abjects as on the sexed identifications is assumes, then, the subject is nothing if not ambivalent (15). Fornés's plays have consistently stood in a problematic relationship to feminist theory. Ironically, however, the foreclosure of Julia's passionate attachment to Fefu proves deadly not for Fefu but for Julia herself. cit., p. 82-4). It is rather emotion directed and defined, and when we describe art as ‘the will to form’ we are not imagining an exclusively intellectual activity, but rather an exclusively instinctive one. Fernihough, once more: “[I]t is only when we enter the aesthetic space offered by the art-work that we renounce the endlessly metaphoric process of abstracting from the world and allow our unconscious the free play which alone will help us to penetrate our environment. In an article that deals specifically with the connection between violence and gender in representation, de Lauretis points out that, “a feminist theory exists as such only insofar as it refers back to … experience.”32 In a materialist feminist performance practice such as Fornes', violence is not represented as ‘truth,’ but rather as a culturally constructed behavior. Teach me how to look for peace” (128). The Danube centers upon Paul and Eve, whose difficultly communicating is punctuated by the broadcasting of a foreign language instruction tape following each argument. If Fornes is, as Marc Robinson points out, insistent that ‘small things matter’,19 Bonnie Marranca has referred to Fornes' work as ‘theatre made by a miniaturist’,20 and writes that ‘the sense of miniaturization also enhances the dimension of scale, making the events on stage at times more dramatic’.21 Indeed, we might consider the theatre as an ancient, human-generated fractal, in which the latent patterns within nature's apparent chaos can be discerned. These are echoes, I believe, which will become clearer in light of Anne Fernihough's elucidations of modernist principles of form. we all go from glee to misery on the turn of a dime. I received an award from the American Academy of Letters. Mae sees knowledge as only a starfish can—as the means to a kind of ultimate cleanness, knowledge as purification: I'm going to die clean. Play. In order to adapt to a new high-tech world, Mae must go beyond the things she does best, and learn to make herself valuable in a different way; as I will show later, she sees reading as the means to this end. As a director of her own plays, Fornes has achieved a level of artistic control over her work that emphasizes her inventive staging and nontraditional theatrical techniques. And even though Mae fails to break through the seemingly impenetrable barrier that “mathematics” or “medicine” represent, the freedom suggested by the door to the open blue sky represents the potential to an open future, and in projecting a glimmer of that freedom, Fornes attempts to shape the potential outcome of Mae's struggle for selfhood in a similar manner to that found in Brecht's social plays. John Briggs has written that ‘the patterns humans genuinely find aesthetically pleasing are a dynamic balance’,6 and Fornes seems to set that balance vibrating, challenging our notions of stability in time and in space. Clearly, for Fornes, polemic is anathema to art. Here the return to the body is not so much a question of “knowing the other side as well” in a mystical all-inclusiveness,29 as of locating the conditions of imaginative viewing in sensuous, phenomenal perception, and in the noncentrality of the subject-position associated with the unconscious. Julia listens and speaks to, even gets slapped by, the male judges she hallucinates, while Fefu hallucinates a functioning Julia who can walk into the living room and check to see how much sugar is in the bowl. For Fefu also establishes itself early on as also interested in homosociality and its limits. After all, as “the judges” tell Julia, the “human being is of the masculine gender” (35). 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