Awake since the Eighties: the Charabanc Theatre Company’s gender-subversive strategies in Lay Up Your Ends and The Girls in the Big Picture

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The Charabanc theatre company was an important, famous, Belfast-based all-women theatre company founded in the 1980s, when the Northern Irish theatre scene was largely dominated by men. The company’s works and legacy for the representation of female playwrights remain relevant to this day. This thesis explores how Charabanc reframed and contested ‘traditional’ female gender roles. To do this, it mainly utilises Judith Butler’s theory on the performative nature of gender to analyse how gender roles are subverted and challenged in relation to female agency in two plays: Lay Up Your Ends, and The Girls in the Big Picture. The analysis focuses on dramaturgical elements, and themes and characters, discussing key scenes and dialogue in detail. The outcomes have been placed in the context of gender roles as a whole, but also relate to the current situation for women in the Irish theatre scene as underlined by the #WakingTheFeminists movement and sexual harassment allegations in the Gate Theatre.
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