INCEST ON MODERN AND CONTEMPORANEOUS STAGES

Coup de théâtre #24, March 2010

Incest is sexual activity or marriage between very close family members
or kins. It is the general consensus of humanity that incest is a
criminal offense and a taboo, in most societies. It has long been
suggested that, as a social mechanism, it reduces the chances of
congenital birth-defects ; it has always been perceived as a matter of
survival for the human race. Yet, all scientists do not support this as
an explanation. It is considered appalling and vile and yet, cultural
inheritance, it has been recurringly predominant in Mythology, in
popular culture and literature for centuries. In Greek Mythology, Zeus
and Hera are brother and sister as well as husband and wife ; examples
of the kind are numerous. Drama and theatre offer a space to develop its
mainly tragic cause and effect pr ocess. In Sophocles’ Œdipus Rex,
adoption entails a quest for identity and for biological origin that
ends catastrophically in the disclosure of incest and parricide, and in
the protagonist’s self-exile. In his ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, John Ford
opened the debate and the dispute. Nowadays, anglophone playwrights
explore the topic in a less conventional way, revisit it and discuss
formerly hushed questions. Their plays deal with the victims’ suffering,
their reconstruction and the therapeutic methods used to do so. In
newspapers, headlines show reality and fiction coexist.

Proposals in English or French including a 200-word summary must be sent
by July 3rd 2009 to Jean-Pierre Simard
and Danièle Berton, RADAC editors.