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actor, mover, baker, storymaker

She Should Have Died Hereafter: a thesis

She Should Have Died Hereafter is an inquiry into the silent and symbolic deaths of women in Shakespeare and how we perform feminine endings, how we perform or don't perform Shakespeare, how we perform or don't perform women. It began as a discussion of the tragic women of Shakespeare: their deaths, their isolation, their silence, their improper burials.

What it eventually became was a collective of makers and thinkers that identify as women questioning how we perform womanhood, how women are or are not laid to rest, and how we find rest for ourselves as artists. Our questions grew into a piece that we devised together; drawing from Shakespearean text, contemporary poetry, music, and our own stories. An experiment of duration where we would hold space from night until dawn: Last Rites, First Light.

In its final form it morphed again. We offered a community encounter, a workshop of sorts where we all played, listened, and learned together. The night featured some compositions from our devising but mostly was an invitation to partake in parts of our process that we loved, that brought us joy, as we all created new things together. 

We composed together.

We shared a meal.

We made a storm.

We moved together.

We fell and caught, together.

At the same time I wrote and finalized my own archive of this exploration in the form of a 100 page written document, diving deeply into five specific characters: Ophelia, Lady Macbeth, Cleopatra, Desdemona, and Cordelia. The writing travels through the moments when we lose these women to the treatment they received by the story post-mortem. It is interested primarily in uncovering why so many fundamental stories in our culture hinge on the simultaneous silencing and deifying of feminine figures. 

an excerpt

“We can use the wealth of nuanced information found when looking at the ways women die, are handled in death, and are disappeared in these stories to help us look closer at the ingrained biases and learned habits which uphold a structure that propels the feminine, the queer, or racial other to early graves. We hold a common fear of dying without witness. But I find the thing which aches most to be the women who watch the other women go. In these plays we watch each other die. But theater spaces allow us to come back, re-shape, mend, make new. Not as a symbol, but as a body that still breathes. Placing worth in only what women can give up and give away, unfairly ignores our right to also receive. Forget worth. We are important subjects simply because we live, because we are here. Our art should reflect this fact more. By giving focus to feminine death in tragedy, we open our awareness to think critically about the ways our world fetishizes the suffering of women and the silence of women. We listen more closely.”

© 2022 Leyla DeMolina

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