|dc.description.abstract||Important connections between carnival spectacle and postmodern theatre are revealed when texts are explored from the perspective of performance. In performance ostensible stage 'realities' are created in which theatrical subjects are positioned according to a variety of overt codes of appearance, speech and behaviour. The stage world constitutes a complex system of interactive languages, images, symbols, shifting power relations and effects through which the subject is split, multiplied or reconstructed into a 'performing identity'.
Throughout this study I look at stage worlds, characters and the dynamic interplays operating between stage and audience, with a keen awareness of the operative conditions of carnival and postmodern theatrical discourses. This approach, as Anne Ubersfield states in the epigraph above, is a useful way of discovering the "proper message"-what the theatrical representation "expresses" to the audience. In this analysis, however, the discourses of the characters are not peripheral to the conditions which produce them. Theatrical discourse itself not only illuminates a play's potential message or underlying themes, but is vital to the reading of complex codes of performance.
Plays by women have, characteristically, looked at, questioned, or dealt subversively with issues of patriarchal oppression in a variety of social, sexual, political or multicultural contexts. Myths have been dislodged, dystopias created, overturned, or counterbalanced by new realities2 mythological, realistic or imaginative worlds which offer liberating utopian alternatives for the representation of women on stage. Feminist influences and strategies continue to challenge and cut across ethnic, cultural and gender boundaries in the work of contemporary theatre practitioners, yet the processes and approaches to theatrical content and form have diversified significantly. Today's theatrical heroine is recognisable as a proliferating postmodern female subject; she is not presented merely as a recognisable cipher for polemical statement, nor is she securely positioned simply to express an overt political purpose. (…) [Extract from Preface]||en_NZ