Optimism and Pessimism: Cynthia Hopkins Returns to the Stage as an Alien Mother

Beth Kurkjian


July 7, 2007. A hot evening in Brooklyn, N.Y. The residential streets pulse with salsa music. A line of people who seem unfamiliar to this area of east Bushwick march from the L-train subway stop towards the Starr Street Space to watch Catch 24, a performance series that features experimental works-in-progress. Inside, the raw, open Space has a cement floor, with a small kitchen area where volunteers sell beer and homemade popcorn in paper bags. Chairs are arranged in three rows on simple risers and on the floor, facing a bare space. According to the program, curated by Andrew Dinwiddie and Jeff Larson, Cynthia Hopkins will perform first.

She begins in the upstage left corner from underneath an old wooden wheelchair, holding a long rope. She wears a pig nose prosthetic, a curly black, cropped wig, a beige 1970’s pantsuit and white scarf (that make her look somewhat like a pilot), and ladylike boots. Her body is propped up on a board above the small-sized wheels so that with her back flat and her legs extended, she can pull the rope with her arms and glide on a diagonal trajectory, towards the audience. She pulls herself headfirst, while singing a song about love and loss. Her sweet voice hangs in the humid air.

Full Text:



Aronson, Arnold. American Avant-garde Theatre: A History (London; New York: Routledge, 2000.)

Bauerlein, Judy. 'Cynthia Hopkins: Accidental Nostalgia', Theatre Forum (27, 2005): 3-7.

Benson, Sarah; Liska, Pavol; Margraff, Ruth; Parson, Annie-B; Vazquez, Tory. ‘Working Downtown’, PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art (PAJ 83, 28:2, 2006): 42-60.

Birns, Nicholas. ‘Retrospectives and New Beginnings’, PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art (PAJ 84, Volume 28, Number 3, 2006): 48-55.

Birringer, Johannes H. ‘Performance and Science’, PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art (PAJ 85, 29:1, 2007): 21-35.

Browning, Barbara. 'Indulgent Domesticity', Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory (16:3, 2006): 469 – 473.

Berghaus, Gunter. Theatre, performance, and the historical avant-garde (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.)

Carlson, Marvin A. The Haunted Stage: The Theatre as Memory Machine (Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Press, 2001.)

Coleman, Patricia. ‘La Belle Indifference’, PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art (PAJ 81, Volume 27, Number 3, September 2005): 131-139.

Colleary, Eric. ‘Must Don't Whip 'Um (review)’, Theatre Journal (59:3, 2007): 513- 515.

Fleischer, Mary. ‘Antigone (review)’, Theatre Journal (55:3, 2002): 513-514.

Fuchs, Elinor. The Death of Character: Perspectives on Theater After Modernism (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1996.)

Hopkins, Cynthia. ‘Accidental Nostalgia’, Play a Journal of Plays (3, 2007): 263-321. Jay, Ricky. Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women (New York: Villard Books, 1987.)

Kalb, Jonathan. Play by Play: Theater Essays and Reviews, 1993-2002 (New York: Limelight Editions, 2003.)

Kurkjian, Beth. ‘Causing More Trouble Out There: Mark Russell on P.S. 122’, TDR: The Drama Review (T 195, 51:3, 2007): 46-76.

Malkin, Jeanette R. Memory-Theater and Postmodern Drama (Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Press, 1999.)

Marranca, Bonnie. ‘Performance, A Personal History’, PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art (PAJ 82, 28:1, 2006): 3-19.

Mills, Chris. ‘Under the Radar Festival (review)’, Theatre Journal (57:3, 2005): 489- 493.

Poggioli, Renato. The Theory of the Avant-Garde (Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1968.)

Rashley, Lisa Hammond. ‘Inventing Women in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Nonfiction’, Biography (30.1, 2007): 22-47.

Rieder, John. ‘Life Writing and Science Fiction’, Biography (30.1, 2007): v-xvii.

Russell, Mark. ‘A Coda: An Epilogue of Sorts’, TDR: The Drama Review (T 195, 51:3, 2007): 76-79.

Savran, David. Breaking the Rules: The Wooster Group (New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1988.)

Schechner, Richard. Performance Studies: An Introduction (2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2006.)

Shank, Theodore. Beyond the Boundaries: American Alternative Theatre (Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Press, 2002.)

Wellman, Mac and Lee, Young Jean. New Downtown Now: An Anthology Of New Theater From Downtown New York (Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press, 2006.)


  • There are currently no refbacks.