Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory

Women Performance: a journal of feminist theory

Special Issue: Recall & Response: Black Women

Performers & the Mapping of Memory

Performance excerpt: Staging Black/Female/Body in the Age of Global Terror

Inspired by the real-life events that culminated with 9-11 survivor Marcy Borders, I reimagined her as a bio-fictionalized character and subject of my performance-play Dust. This examination reflects the coalescing of theories that serve to shape my creative response to those initially persistent intersections of this woman’s ‘private’ and media constructed identities. A four character play, presented at HERE Arts Center, New York (2003), Dust positions fused aspects of the character as contextualized alter egos/survivors risen from the ash of 11 September 2001. In a post-apocalyptic space Marcy Borders, now an iconic figure renamed Dust Lady, experiences a series of dream encounters with the Afghan refugee Sharbut Gula, dubbed Green-eyed Girl, who was originally ‘discovered’ in 1985 by National Geographic and ‘found’ again by the magazine in 2002 as an adult following US intervention/occupation. Both women attained international celebrity status when their transfixing images were featured the world over on media covers and infotainment shows, situating them, by extension, as symbols of global terror. (Gula’s wrenching tale, dating back to her childhood years spent under Taliban rule in Afghanistan, would be further romanticized by Oprah on the Oxygen Network.) In my play, however, these women are linked as cultural and historical forces who confront their photographers, framed as media predators and, perhaps for the first time, also see themselves.

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