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?
Pardo, July 23, 2002
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
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?"
10th Myth and Theatre Festival
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.
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?"
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