Gendered Performance, Fluid Identities and Protest in Tess Onwueme’s Then She Said It

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This study examines the social constructions of gender as the encapsulation of reiterated human conducts within varying sites of performance. Contrary to the notion that gender roles are fixed by socio-cultural forces, this paper focuses on the fluidity of human dispositions in differing circumstances. Adopting Judith Butler’s theory of gender performativity, the researcher analyses Tess Onwueme’s Then She Said It. This protest play attests to the variability of gender performance. The characters in the drama, especially the protagonists and antagonists, exhibit considerable alterations in gender performance in different situations. Thus, the study argues that the rigid classification of gender roles along sex lines (on both biological and gendered sexuality) in protest drama in Nigeria is incongruous with the characters’ dispositions in the plays. Indeed, characters adopt cross-gendered performances as a strategy of protesting against overbearing conditions.

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