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“Nor are we just passing through”: Muriel Naessens, Political Consistency, and Feminist Theatre of the Oppressed

  • Kelly Howe
Extract

We must be as clear as possible about what we are defending. We are not, in fact, neutral, nor are we just passing through.

—Muriel Naessens

Muriel Naessens, feminist militant and Theatre of the Oppressed practitioner, died in France in February 2016, at the age of 67. After training with Theatre of the Oppressed founder Augusto Boal in his early days in France, Naessens founded the organization Féminisme-Enjeux, which “acts to prevent the oppression of women.” A feminist activist for over forty years, Naessens used Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) as one of her primary methods. She was a longtime activist with the French Family Planning Movement (MFPF), in many ways the French equivalent of the US organization Planned Parenthood. “As a member of Augusto's TO group in Paris and at the same time a militant in the Family Planning Organization,” wrote Naessens in 2006, “I was able to develop the use of TO on a regular but punctual basis within the MFPF, where it quickly found its rightful place on a national level.”

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khowe2@luc.edu
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Endnotes

1. Naessens, Muriel, “Feminism and Its Relationship with Theatre of the Oppressed,” trans. Nelson, Margy, Under Pressure: Theatre of the Oppressed International Newsletter 7.25 (2006), 1116 , at 16; emphasis hers. Online at www.salto-youth.net/downloads/toolbox_tool_download-file-653/newsletter_ITO_women.pdf, accessed 11 February 2016.

2. Muriel Naessens, “Boal's Early Days in Europe,” trans. Margy Nelson, in Theatre of the Oppressed in Actions: An Audio-Visual Introduction to Boal's Forum Theatre, ed. Julian Boal, Kelly Howe, and Scot McElvany (booklet accompanying DVD) (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, Chapman & Hall, 2015): 17–22, at 17. The biography heading this article—quoted here—was written by Naessens in French and translated into English by coeditor Julian Boal.

3. Naessens, “Feminism,” 12.

4. Naessens, “Boal's Early Days in Europe,” 17. It is the biography heading this article that is again quoted here (see note 2).

5. Abigail Boucher, phone conversation with the author, 9 May 2016, and Marion Lary, e-mail to the author, translation from French certified by Straker Translations, 1 May 2016. Other individuals quoted elsewhere here also emphasized these characteristics.

6. Julian Boal, e-mail to fellow Theatre of the Oppressed practitioners, 11 February 2016.

7. Montse Forcadas and Jordi Forcadas, e-mail conversation with the author, translation from Spanish by Martín Zimmerman, 29 April 2016.

8. Naessens, “Boal's Early Days in Europe.”

9. Margy Nelson, telephone conversation with the author, 5 March 2016. CEDITADE (Centre d’Étude et de Diffusion des Techniques Actives d'Expression), cofounded in Paris by Augusto Boal in March 1979, later became the Centre du Théâtre de l'Opprimé.

10. Montse Forcadas and Jordi Forcadas, e-mail to fellow Theatre of the Oppressed practitioners, 10 February 2016.

11. Ibid.

12. Boal, e-mail to fellow TO practitioners, 11 February 2016.

13. José Soeiro, Skype conversation with the author, 29 February 2016.

14. Forcadas and Forcadas, e-mail conversation with the author, trans. Zimmerman, 29 April 2016.

15. Julian Boal, Skype conversation with the author, 23 February 2016.

16. Margy Nelson, e-mail to the author, 2 March 2016.

17. Boal, e-mail to fellow TO practitioners, 11 February 2016.

18. Naessens, “Feminism,” 16; emphasis hers.

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Theatre Survey
  • ISSN: 0040-5574
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