From object to subject: Israeli theatres of the battered women

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Israeli institutional theatre has only just begun to toy with the idea of 'feminist theatre' and, despite a demonstrable increase in violence against women in Israel, with increased visibility in the mass media, the subject has yet to be confronted in mainstream theatres. However, women's creation has been longer at the frontier of theatre activities, and the issue of battered women has been a central theme of several community-based performances over the past two decades. In this article Shulamith Lev-Aladgem offers an overview of these plays - the first performed by professional actresses who had just graduated from university, and who were mostly Ashkenaziyot (of European origin); the two following produced by community amateur actresses who were Mizrahi (of Arabic origin) - women from a low social stratum who, although being acquainted with domestic violence, had wished to avoid being regarded as battered women; and the last performed by a group of amateur actresses who came from more heterogeneous backgrounds, but who were all being treated in one of the centres for prevention and treatment of domestic violence. The author argues that in the first performance the battered woman was articulated by another, distant woman; in the next two she was presented by a more closely, identifying relative; while only in the fourth production did she publicly represent herself by herself, articulating her own voice through the symbolic system of theatre. The author proceeds to analyze in detail the first and the last of these performances, which clearly present the process of passage from acting woman-as-object to acting woman-as-subject.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-149
Number of pages11
JournalNew Theatre Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2003


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