Dramaturgical Resources


Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.

By Alice Birch

Over the course of the season, our assistant directors and student dramaturgs will be compiling dramaturgical resources relating to each production as it develops. Below are some links to websites which relate to the history of the play, the biography of the playwright, and sites that contextualize and, we hope, shed light on the directorial approach to the dramatic material.

We hope you find these resources of interest.

Alice Birch

Alice Birch (b. 1987)

The Playwright and Play

British born playwright Alice Birch is pushing the boundaries of experimental theater; after graduating from the University of Exeter in 2009 with a BA in English Literature, she got to work writing new and innovative pieces, with a “feminist” twist. Her work— perhaps most famously, Lady Macbeth— has gone on to receive countless awards and accolades.

Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. was commissioned in 2013 by the Royal Shakespeare Company; the goal was to have a piece that responded to the provocation, “well behaved women seldom make history”. Birch writes:
The phrase made me quite angry. I think because I couldn't really figure out what that meant. I tried to read a really broad range of feminist literature, so things like Kat Banyard and Caitlin Moran's book, and then things at the more radical end, so lots of Andrea Dworkin and crucially this book called The Scum Manifesto by Valerie Solanas.

Describing her inspiration for Revolt in another interview, Birch says:
I was reading a lot of stuff that was making me angry. But as you start saying ‘angry play about feminism’, people get uncomfortable.” Another pause. “There’s sometimes a sense of telling people to catch up. But I don’t want to have a conversation about why we still need the word feminism.

Called by one critic “a cluster-bomb of subversion,” Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. channels Birch’s anger, and tackles topics like sex, gender, rape, marriage, and pornography in a raw, unfiltered, and incredibly truthful way.

Birch tells the New York Times:
My writing has always been much louder than I am… I consider myself incredibly lucky to have that space to be so noisy and to say the things that I feel passionate about. I don’t think I would stand up and say those things necessarily. I don’t think I would have the confidence to.

As the above interview notes, perhaps the most intriguing thing about Revolt is its exploration of the words culture uses to frame the way we see women and gender. This deep-dive into language can be impactful, confusing, and sometimes downright absurd, but the art of Revolt is in it’s ability to “only infrequently” “baffle” and “alienate” spectators despite this experimental approach.

Notable Feminist Artists/Influences

Judy Chicago

Judy Chicago is a feminist artist who gained popularity in the 70s after making it her goal to rebel against the male-dominated art scene of the 60s. Chicago embraced artistic mediums that were traditionally female-dominated, such as needlework and ceramics. Discussing the broader topics of art and feminism, she writes:
Upper-echelon universities in America still don’t teach the history of feminist art in their art history classes... It reinforces one of the things I wanted to overcome, which was the erasure of women’s achievements – as one great woman thinker said: ‘Women grew up not knowing what women before them thought, taught, wrote or created, and as a result, they are constantly reinventing the wheel.

Chicago’s iconic “Dinner Party” piece is still being celebrated today as a groundbreaking piece of feminist art. This massive piece celebrated the accomplishments of women throughout history in a one-of-a-kind,
full room installation.

Other works, like her series Atmospheres, is a result of her disgust at a male artist (Richard Serra) cutting down of dozens of Redwoods for his piece in an gallery exhibit. In her response, she “feminizes” the Pasadena sky with smoke machines and creates magical scenes of surreal beauty. In her early minimalist works, like Flesh Fan, she explores color “through a very reduced formal vocabulary of geometric shapes,” a fresh departure from more “traditional” women artists. Other notable early minimalist works include Birth Hood, and Rainbow Picket.

Guerrilla Girls

The Guerrilla Girls are a group of about 55 anonymous feminist artists/activists. Founded in 1985, the group uses gorilla masks, evidence-based facts, humor, and outrageous visuals to expose gender, ethnic bias, and corruption. The Guerrilla Girls are responsible for over 100 art pieces, including street performances, unique museum exhibits, and posters (another poster).

Barbara Kruger

Barbara Kruger is an American artist and graphic designer famous for her provocative works, usually dealing with feminism, media, and consumerism. Particularly well-known for her use of text in her pieces,  Kruger’s works are widely recognized today as important pillars of feminist art.