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Marianne Sharp


Marianne Sharp


Writing Strangers and Sel/f/ves: The Presence of the Actress as Foreigner within and without her own words






Di Trevis in Schafer (1998) describes being an actress as like ‘being a woman twice', in a context which suggests that the woman who figures herself as ‘actress' is twice-removed from a position of agency and visibility in the world. This paper seeks to identify and analyse the strategies, used by a range of contemporary international women theatre artists, for writing the self (and hence manifesting ‘agency') in performance – whereby the ‘self' (the actress?) is distinguished from the performance persona. The analysis will be focused primarily through Julia Kristeva's notions of ‘abjection' and questions of ‘foreign-ness', in terms of constructing the borders of self. The analysis of the performances in question will develop with further reference to Toril Moi's work on creating a “feminism of freedom” which effectively rejects notions of equality and difference as either opposing or incompatible, (Moi in Payne and Schad 2003: 148/9), in terms of constructions of ‘woman'. Here I will posit the performance of self as difference as both feminine and desirable: as perhaps, ‘being twice the woman'? The actresses whose work will form the material for analysis are: Marie Brassard ( Jimmy , Barbican Pit, London 2004); Geddy Aniksdal ( No Doctor for the Dead , Gamale Posten, Porsgrunn, Norway June 2004 and June 2005); Naava Piatka ( Finding My Mother's Voice/Better Don't Talk , C-Central Venue, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, August 2004 and University of Winchester, November 2005). The performances are solo works in which the performance text has been either written, or selected and compiled, by the artist performing the work and in each work the autobiographical, or the writing of sel/f/ves, is differently figured. The paper will include short, filmed extracts from two of the performances (filmed by Marianne Sharp by kind permission of the artists).





Marianne Sharp is a performer and director and lectures in Drama at the University of Winchester. She has worked professionally as a touring actress for several years. More recent directing work includes Wertenbaker's "Our Country's Good" in Winchester Prison with a cast of prisoners and undergraduate students (2005, funded by Arts Council England and Ernest Cook Trust); Kane's "Crave" at Theatre Royal Winchester and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival; devised project(s) "Juliet's Dream" versions I, II and III with her own company. She also ran workshops and directed theatre performances & summer schools with young people for Theatre Royal Winchester for several years and has run theatre workshops for adults with learning difficulties for Social Services in Winchester. She has previously taught and directed at a number of London Drama schools and colleges and is currently studying/struggling part-time for a practice-based PhD at London University (RHUL). Her thesis has a working title of "Being A Woman Twice:Knowledge, Subjectivity and The [Self-Directing] Actress". Her next project will be a solo performance with the working title of "Slipping out of my Skin", which is exploring the relationship between actress and character via processes of physical, vocal and textual slippage.



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