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Feminist Theatre - A Case of Unity in Diversity

            In order to grasp the underlying concept of feminist theatre, its successes as a genre and the challenges it faces in contrast with mainstream theatrical forms, it is essential to begin with a definition of terms. What is feminist theatre? Is it concerned with women as performers, women dramatists or playwrights? Consider this striking description: "Generally speaking, feminists involved in the creation or analysis of theatre usually wish to enact, embody or inspire some kind of political, personal or cultural change via the public platform of theatre"[Sim15]. This implies that feminist theatre is the creation of feminists who aspire to foster change, whether cultural, political or personal. However, the writers also assert that there is so much diversity within this genre as to render this definition inconclusive, and that the term is so broad that it is almost singularly impossible to pin it down to specific tenets. In essence, feminist theatre should not be restricted to inspiring political change alone because there are several feminisms, each of which has several cultural and geographical representations. Further, they deal with a plethora of issues which are of significance to the day to day lives of women as reflected in Caryl Churchill's Top Girls, Wendy Wasserstein's The Heidi Chronicle and Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive. This being the case, feminist plays through their diversity, expand the definition of what feminist theatre is and must be given adequate room to express themselves without restrictions in terms of form and style.
             Firstly, the term 'feminist theatre' covers a multiplicity of feminist concerns, as seen in the development of the various waves of feminist theatre. The first wave came just at the turn of the 20th century with the suffrage plays, dramatized by the Actresses' Franchise League. Then in 1968, after theatre censorship was abolished in the UK, the first British National Women's liberation Conference was held in Oxford.

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