Thorley, Emily Victoria Jayne (2021) Angry Young Women: An Exploration of Feminist Feeling in the Nineteen-Nineties. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

The new wave of young playwrights emerging from British Fringe Theatres during the nineteen-nineties is a movement that is well documented under various terms such as: In-Yer-Face Theatre or New Brutalism. Wrapped up in a discourse surrounding the violent nature of the plays, the academia of this decade of plays has often focussed upon the relationship the plays had with their audiences and the extremities of violence that they included. However, works from various feminist scholars and practitioners have reclaimed these texts, offering a feminist perspective and rebutting notions that feminism had only enjoyed success onstage in the eighties. This thesis is concerned with three women playwrights debuting during the height of the In-Yer-Face movement, whose work was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre in London. They were the only three women playwrights to have their worked staged during the 1994/95 season at the Royal Court: Rebecca Pritchard, Judy Upton, and Sarah Kane. This thesis aims to understand how feminist feelings were adopted and changed in an environment where many claimed feminisms were irrelevant or no longer needed.

The central argument of this thesis is that the 1994/95 season at The Royal Court Theatre in London was a seminal turning point in the treatment of feminism onstage. It concludes that feminism still had a role to play within the theatre, despite the playwrights’ rejection of a ‘women writer’ label. This thesis argues that all three women utilised feminist thinking within their plays as a form of political commentary. This thesis will consider how we can adapt our understanding of feminist theatre to see these plays as part of a larger ongoing conversation around gender within society. Using a variety of philosophical and theatrical practitioners, it will advance a notion put forth by Elaine Aston that women’s theatre in the nineteen-nineties mourned the loss of a politically motivated feminism.

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