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Myth and Theatre Festival Archives

VIRGINS

The Myth and Theatre Festival - Belgium July 2003

Some of the themes were worked on and discussed in the Paris Actéon Project (June July 2003)

You can consult the material collected for it.



La Macarena, Seville

Paris June Academy : Diana and Acteon
June/July 2003

 

VIRGINS
Presentation of the Editorial

The editorial below was written in the early days of this project: in 2000. It was a partial, and to some degree a provocative proposal. It needs qualifying, which, of course, is what the Myth and Theatre Festival events are all about: engaged, differentiated reflections form the lecturers, from the teachers, and from everyone involved or interested. To this effect, as in past Festivals, we opened a "Gossip Column on VIRGINS" as a forum of discussion and suggestions.

The theme of VIRGINS is presented in the editorial, below, within a strong political archetypal perspective; it reacts, for instance, to the Antwerp municipal elections of 2000, where an extreme right wing victory was averted in extremis by an emergency coalition of all other political parties. Since then, most of Europe has elected right wing governments, including the shock of the 2001 French presidential elections. A diffuse anxiety seems to focalize itself on fear of immigrants and the need to preserve a 'pure' autochthonous sense of cultural identity.

Such a presentation of VIRGINS can have a one-sided negative connotation, literalized in politics, in sociology, or in psychiatry (think of the contemporary educational debate on child abuse.) Virginity must also be seen archetypally as an intimate, inviolate sense and space of being, as the pristine source of uniqueness and personal responsibility.

We hope to hear very different points of view. And we want to ask how do theatre, dance and singing deal with such views of virginity?

Enrique Pardo, July 23, 2002


VIRGINS
The Editorial


The Myth and Theatre Festival invites you to a "dance of ideas" where mythology meets the body of performance. Theatre brings passion and pleasure to debates (political correctness makes for such tedious performing!) Mythology requires reflection: it asks us to "see through" images and "figure out" emotions. It turns the spotlights towards the wings, where we can contemplate the gods and goddesses pulling the strings.

From this perspective, virgins rule vast empires in the Western psyche. Their power and fascination come from the fact that they personify two supremacist forces: perfectionism and the obsession with purity. Virgins are pure and perfect. And they cast long shadows.

In Western culture, Mary is the first figure that comes to mind. She personifies the virginal core of Christianity. Yet for all her candor, she is a highly polemical figure - idolized by Mediterranean Catholics, cold-shouldered by Northern Protestants.


Greek mythology has given us formidable virgins: Artemis, Athena, and the less well-known and discreet Hestia. Each epitomizes different facets of virginity. Artemis (the Roman Diana), for instance, has often been identified (and glorified) as "The Naked Truth." Their acolytes can be men and women: mythological virginity is not gender-specific, nor is the blind enthusiasm they can generate in their devotees - be they religious fanatics or weathered philosophers.

There are, of course, harsh political and sociological realities behind the folklore of virginity, especially when it is taken literally i.e. sexually. The guardians of virginity are possessive patriarchs (yes, an Athenian father would repudiate his daughter if she came to lose her virginity, even by rape!) But while sexual virginity can be the ruthless guarantee of patriarchal lineage and phallic pride, it can also bring power to the one who holds it. She (or he) has something to bargain with.

But at core the Festival is saying that virginity is one of the most fascinating and dangerous archetypes ruling Western values, and one that is especially handy for religions (and ideologies) that cling to a unique truth that must be kept pure. Witness the candid question asked by Filip DeWinter, the Flemish nationalist candidate to the recent Antwerp municipal elections, when pressed on his xenophobic policies (quoted in The Observer, London, October 15, 2000:) "What is wrong with purity?"


The 10th Myth and Theatre Festival

VIRGINS

Press Release

The Myth and Theatre Festival invites you to another "dance of ideas." Mythology requires reflection. It demands that we "see through" images and "figure out" emotions. Theatre brings body, passion and enjoyment to our debates over its great images.

The editorial for this Festival suggests that "virgins rule vast empires in the Western psyche. Their power and fascination come from the fact that they personify two supremacist forces: perfectionism and the obsession with purity. Virgins are pure and perfect. And they cast long shadows." It includes the candid question asked by Filip DeWinter, the Flemish nationalist candidate to the recent Antwerp municipal elections, when pressed on his xenophobic policies: "What is wrong with purity?"

We must also see Virginity archetypally as an intimate, inviolate sense and space of being, a pristine source of uniqueness and personal renewal that enables us to find our place in the world and our relation to whatever we feel as spirit: "The Virgin returns and the Golden Age begins anew." Exploring these images in our minds and our experience is what the Myth and Theatre Festival is all about: engaged, differentiated reflections from lecturers and teachers, and from everyone involved are all part of the dance of ideas. We will hear very different points of view and ask: how do theatre, dance and singing deal with such images of virginity.