El vínculo entre sexualidad y violencia en el teatro de Angélica Liddell
Author(s)Topolska, Ewelina Maria
Contributor(s)Torras Francés, Meri
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Departament de Filologia Espanyola
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AbstractAngélica Liddell’s surge to (relative) fame in recent years (a process which began in 2000, peaking around 2008/09) resulted in an increasing number of articles being published about her theatre, not to mention a significant number of interviews she gave for the Spanish and international press. There is also a doctoral thesis by Ana Vidal Egea concerning Atra Bilis’ (the name of Liddell’s group) work. However, no existing study engaged in detailed analysis of the artist’s theatrical production with the special focus on what is the most important and recurring topic in her work, that is sexuality and its immediate connection with violence. In order to explore this link from various angles, but at the same time with due precision, I have chosen seven plays from Liddell’s much richer literary output. The plays enclosed in the series Triptych of Affliction (Tríptico de la Aflicción), that is The Palavrakis Marriage (El matrimonio Palavrakis), Once upon a Time in West Asphixia and Hysterica Passio, explore the perversities and abuses that take place within families, with incest and sexual murder as leitmotifs. These plays were clearly inspired by psychoanalysis, which is why I dedicate extensive passages to demonstrating links between the two. Later I pass on to the study of war-related sexual abuse as exemplified in As She did not Rot…Snowhite (Y como no se pudrió… Blancanieves) and Belgrade. Let the Tongue Sing the Mystery of The Glorious Body (Belgrado. Canta lengua el misterio del cuerpo glorioso), in order to finish the dissertation with a chapter on the openly autobiographical I’m not Pretty (Yo no soy bonita) and The House of Force (La casa de la fuerza). Given that all Liddell’s plays include, whether narrated directly or transformed into fiction, elements of her personal life, in the opening chapter I have offered the reader a more systematized outline of the artist’s biography. Also, I dedicate some paragraphs to the premises that lead her in her work and to the post-dramatic features with which Liddell’s shows are replete. In addition to falling into the category of post-dramatism, Liddell’s shows may be classified as 'in-yer-face' theatre, as well as art therapy. I have proposed the latter label because Liddell apparently finds relief in reprocessing her personal experiences on stage, but also offers a kind of collective therapy – she insists on recognizing and revealing the, very often silent and for that reason easily dismissed, suffering of victims of sexual violence and psychological abuse. Liddell talks about very important questions of male-female-child power imbalance and the ensuing abuse, but she does not offer any realistic solutions to the problem. However, this lack of hope for change is consistent with the particular brand of biological determinism the artist professes, which, I dare say, is more fundamentalist than that favoured by many scientists. She perceives human beings as animals whose behaviour does not vary much from those of our cousins, the chimpanzees, thereby rendering culture merely a comfortable cloak under which to hide our basest impulses, desires and actions. Just as in modern evolutionary science, in Liddell’s art everything is driven by the urge to have sexual contacts (and, in some cases, necessarily reproduce), as according to Liddell our civilisation did not significantly alter this animalistic core of human nature (which remains animalistic just as does the nature of every animal species).