Dr. Shelley Scott's Dramatic Take on Bad Girls
Dr. Shelley Scott's Dramatic Take on Bad Girls

May 1, 2007

FROM THE MAY 2007 LEGEND

Dr. Shelley Scott (Theatre and Dramatic Arts) is a law-abiding citizen with an intellectual curiosity about “bad girls.”

“I’m interested in women who defy expectations and make us question what we think women are capable of,” says Scott.

Scott’s new book, The Violent Woman as a New Theatrical Character Type: Cases From Canadian Drama, examines plays written by Canadian women playwrights about real-life women whose violent crimes defied gender stereotypes.

“There is a tendency to view women as being more gentle, nurturing and maternal than men. When we hear about a woman who has committed a violent act, we are often as disturbed by the fact that she is a woman as the act itself. We wonder how she can be a woman and a criminal at the same time. Each of the plays in the book deals with a different aspect of that question,” says Scott.

The book’s examination of the perceptions of the violent woman character is informed by a great deal of research. In addition to reading the plays, theatrical reviews and relevant academic writing, Scott considered how the performances of the plays contributed to their meaning.

The Violent Woman as a New Theatrical Character Type is a continuation of Scott’s research interest in feminist theatre, women playwrights and Canadian women playwrights. Scott hopes that the book will promote the plays it discusses and draw attention to the gender issues it addresses.

“I want to contribute to the whole question of exploring gender and attributing a full range of humanity to women. Being human means that you can commit the darkest possible acts as well as the most uplifting,” says Scott.

Several of the plays that Scott examines are tied in some way to Alberta. For example, the book cover features a photo of five U of L students in a performance of This Is for You, Anna, which Scott directed at the U of L in 2004. (The photo was taken by Faculty of Fine Arts Communications/Public Relations Officer Katherine Wasiak.)

The Alberta connection is neither intentional nor coincidental. “A lot of times when you’re inspired to write about something, it’s because you have seen a production of it. The performances you see are dependent on where you’re living,” says Scott.

Writing about a production that she has participated in is particularly rewarding for Scott.

“When I direct a play in the department, I always try to write about it in an academic capacity. I have always enjoyed acting and directing, and it is very gratifying to be able to talk about those experiences in an academic way,” says Scott.

Scott made her first appearance on the U of L stage as a student in the ’80s. After she graduated with a bachelor of arts in dramatic arts in 1986, she went on to complete master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Toronto.

Returning to the U of L as a faculty member in 1998 has allowed Scott to pursue both her academic and practical theatre interests. “Coming back to Lethbridge has been a perfect meld,” says Scott.

While Scott jokes that she is ready to move on to more cheerful academic pursuits, women who defy expectations continue to have starring roles in her research. In June she will present a paper on burlesque dancers at a conference in England.

“I guess I’m still interested in bad girls, but not violent ones,” she says with a laugh.


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