Performing Nerves : Four Plays, Four Essays, On Hysteria book cover
1st Edition

Performing Nerves
Four Plays, Four Essays, On Hysteria

ISBN 9781138389366
Published June 2, 2020 by Routledge
242 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Academic interest in hysteria has burgeoned in recent decades. The topic has been probed by feminist theorists, cultural studies specialists, literary scholars, anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, medical and art historians, as well as novelists. The hysteric is construed as a powerless, voiceless subject, marginalised by the forces of the patriarchy that have been the root cause of their distress, dissembling, and disablement. 

In Performing Nerves, Anna Furse interweaves her artistic and academic practice, drawing on her own performance texts to explore four different versions of debilitating hysteric suffering. Each text is extensively annotated, revealing the dramaturgical logic and, in turn, the historical, medical, and cultural contexts behind their protagonists' illnesses, which are argued as environmentally caused in each case. This unique, reflective insight into a playwright and director’s craft offers not only an account of how mental suffering can manifest in different contexts and times, from the 19th century to today, but also a breadth of access to the ideas that can motivate creative research.

This book is an invaluable resource for scholars of theatre studies, performance studies, dramaturgy, 20th-century history, gender studies, and medical humanities.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


List of Figures

Foreword by Elaine Showalter



Chapter 1 Making a Drama Out of a Crisis: Augustine (Big Hysteria) 

Chapter 2 What She Wants: Sea/Woman

Chapter 3 The Duty to Run Mad: SHOCKS

Chapter 4 Shapeshifting: Gorgeous



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Anna Furse is Professor of Theatre and Performance at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she is Co-Director of the Centre of the Body and Director of the MA in Performance Making. A veteran award-winning theatre artist, she writes and produces her own works internationally, through commissions and co-productions. She is a published author of plays and theoretical writing; a frequent speaker at international conferences; and Artistic Director of her own production company, Athletes of the Heart: