A Specifically Female Way of Looking at Reality, Improving Realism.
In doing research for this year's festival I came across this article (pdf) from the Magdalena Project, "Pioneering Women in Mexican Theatre" by Estela Leñero Franco*. The whole article is well worth reading, especially if you don't have a passing familiarity with Mexican theatre traditions.
As we move from planning to production, I keep thinking about these particular sections:
In Mexico, women's playwriting flourished particularly in the middle of the 20th century, with authors who managed to create openings in a macho society where theatre history was only seen from a male erspective. Women who wrote melodramas and personal plays started this process without worrying about dramatic structure and styles. In the 1950s these women made a great leap in search of new forms of theatrical expression, breaking with conventional themes and styles, and creating a basis for contemporary Mexican theatre.
With the end of the Second World War, theatre production reflected Mexico's need to open up to an industrial world while simultaneously reaffirming its national identity, but it also analysed the artistic and plastic universality of performance. In the 1950s, women's plays were noticeable because of the forms and styles that pervaded them and the subject matter that expressed a specifically female way of looking at reality. The playwrights of this generation transformed the nationalism of the era into the search for an identity. They used new forms and themes not previously dealt with by women. They broke away from the linear narrative, they tried new dramatic structures, and they introduced non-realistic scenarios and reinterpreted historical characters.
The playwrights of the 1950s improved on realism and aspired to a kind of theatre which was more dreamlike, free, and elusive. Luisa Josefina Hernández and Elena Garro, the most outstanding playwrights of their generation, represent two different propositions: the first experimented with forms of storytelling, mostly in the provinces, and the second created curious allegories that transcended reality.
This year's festival is focusing specifically on Mexican women, but I think that holds true with most of the work we've done in previous festivals.
What do you think?
*Translated from Spanish by Julia Varley