New Theatre Quarterly

Research Article

Swimming in Histories of Gender Oppression: Grupo XIX de Teatro's Hysteria

Elaine Aston

Abstract

Hysteria, first performed in São Paulo, Brazil, in 2001, was assembled from oral histories, medical cases, records, and remnants documenting the lives of Brazilian women from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who were incarcerated in Rio de Janeiro's Pedro II Institute. Its UK premiere in 2008, performed by the all-female cast of the Brazilian Grupo XIX de Teatro, included a setting of the show in the old Victoria Baths in Manchester. In this article Elaine Aston identifies ways in which Hysteria keeps open or re-opens the question of feminist liberation. Exploring the show's critique of Western feminism's claims to independence and liberation, her analysis moves towards a mode of interdependent feminist thinking through which liberation might be realized. Elaine Aston is Professor of Contemporary Performance at Lancaster University and editor of Theatre Research International. Her most recent publications include Feminist Views on the English Stage (2003); Feminist Futures: Theatre, Performance, Theory (edited with Geraldine Harris, 2006); Staging International Feminisms (edited with Sue-Ellen Case, 2007); and Performance Practice and Process: Contemporary (Women) Practitioners (with Geraldine Harris, 2008).