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Facts and Tales

No. 2 (2022): Learning to See

Feminism and Misunderstandings: Reactions after the 4th ISTA in Holstebro

October 24, 2022


The 4th ISTA session, held in Holstebro in 1986, provoked controversies and discussions. In particular, the American scholar Erika Munk and the American professor Phillip Zarrilli argued against Eugenio Barba. The first accused the Italian director of not taking into consideration socio-cultural aspects concerning the representation of women on stage, the second found a lack of reflexivity in Barba’s research. Analysing writings and essays published after the session, this article presents the confrontation between the scholars and Barba, underlining how such discussions opened up reflections on subjects hitherto neglected.


  1. Barba, Eugenio. 1986. “ISTA: Between the Face and the Mask.” The Village Voice, November 25, 1986: 96-98.
  2. Barba, Eugenio. 1987. “The Actor’s Energy: Male-Female Versus Animus-Anima.” New Theatre Quarterly 3, 2: 237-240.
  3. Barba, Eugenio. 1988. “Eugenio Barba to Phillip Zarrilli. About the Visible and the Invisible in the Theatre and About
  4. ISTA in Particular.” The Drama Review 32, 3: 7-14.
  5. Barba, Eugenio, and Nicola Savarese. 2006. A Dictionary of Theatre Anthropology. The Secret Art of the Performer. 2nd
  6. Edition. Translated by Richard Fowler. London and New York: Routledge.
  7. Bassnett, Susan. 1987. “Perceptions of the female role: The ISTA congress.” New Theatre Quarterly 3, 11:
  8. -236
  9. Fowler, Richard, ed. 1986. The Female Role as Represented on the Stage in Various Cultures. Programme of the
  10. th ISTA Session, Holstebro 1986. In OTA (Odin Teatret Archives), Fonds Odin Teatret, Series ISTA,
  11. b.3.
  12. Kvamme, Elsa. "To see the right friends". Letter to the Editorial Board of The Performing Arts Journal. In OTA,
  13. Fonds Odin Teatret, Series Activities, b.43.
  14. Martin, Carol. 1988. “Feminist Analysis Across Cultures: Performing Gender in India.” Women and Perfor-
  15. mance 3, 2 (1987-88): 32-40.
  16. Mulvey, Laura. 1986. “Changes.” Paper presented at New York University Humanities Institute Colloquium on
  17. Sex and Gender, Fall 1986.
  18. Munk, Erika. 1986. “Roles and Poles Apart.” The Village Voice, November 11, 1986: 89-90.
  19. Munk, Erika. 1987. “The Rites of Women.” Performing Arts Journal 10, 2: 35-42.
  20. Odin Teatret Archives. 1986. “Audio Recordings of the 4th ISTA Session.” In OTA, Audio Fonds, E03 and
  21. E04.
  22. Odin Teatret Archives. 1986a. “ISTA Holstebro 1986: The Female Role as represented on the stage in various cultures - Shot.”
  23. In OTA, Audiovisual Fonds, 86-05.
  24. Phelan, Peggy. 1988. “Feminist Theory, Poststructuralism, and Performance.” The Drama Review 32, 1: 107-
  25. Risum, Janne. 1987. How do we see each other? In OTA, Fonds Odin Teatret, Series Activities, b.43.
  26. Schino, Mirella. 2018. The Odin Teatret Archives. Translated by Gabriella Sacco. London and New York: Rout-
  27. ledge.
  28. The Magdalena Project. “Archive 1983-89.”
  29. Accessed January 15, 2022.
  30. The Magdalena Project. “The Magdalena Project. International network of women in contemporary theatre.” https://www.the-
  31. Accessed January 15, 2022.
  32. Unknown Author. 1985. “Ekstra-bevilling på 250.000 kr. til Odin Teatret.” Dagbladet Holstebro, December 19,
  33. Also in OTA, Fonds Odin Teatret, Series ISTA, b.3.
  34. Varley, Julia. 2020. “Walls that speak.” In Eugenio Barba, Francesco Galli, and Julia Varley, Genius Loci. Odin
  35. Teatret’s Home. Holstebro (Denmark): Odin Teatrets Forlag.
  36. Watson Ian. 1987. “Presenting the Female Role.” Canadian Theatre Review 51, summer 1987: 82-85.
  37. Zarrilli, Phillip. 1988. “For Whom Is the ‘Invisible’ Not Visible?” The Drama Review 32, 1: 96-104.

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