Echo's Voice
The Theatres of Sarraute, Duras, Cixous and Renaude

Mary Noonan

Research Monographs in French Studies 36


1 July 2014  •  175pp

ISBN: 978-1-907975-50-9 (hardback)  •  RRP £80, $110, €95


Hélène Cixous (1937-), distinguished not least as a playwright herself, told Le Monde in 1977 that she no longer went to the theatre: it presented women only as reflections of men, used for their visual effect. The theatre she wanted would stress the auditory, giving voice to ways of being that had previously been silenced. She was by no means alone in this. Cixous's plays, along with those of Nathalie Sarraute (1900-99), Marguerite Duras (1914-96), and Noëlle Renaude (1949-), among others, have proved potent in drawing participants into a dynamic ‘space of the voice’. If, as psychoanalysis suggests, voice represents a transitional condition between body and language, such plays may draw their audiences in to understandings previously never spoken. In this ground-breaking study, Noonan explores the rich possibilities of this new audio-vocal form of theatre, and what it can reveal of the auditory self.

Mary Noonan is Lecturer in French at University College Cork.

Shortlisted for the 2015 David Bradby Award for Research in International Theatre and Performance, which is awarded for the best book of its year by TaPRA, the Theatre and Performance Research Association.


  • ‘Noonan’s book relies on close readings of extracts from the plays that she analyses, although she never loses sight of the importance of performance and the theatre. Noonan uses voice to situate the work of her playwrights in the context of theories of writing, and so is likely to appeal to scholars interested in the ways in which critical or philosophical thought is taken up differently by (women) writers working in a different genre.’ — Martina Williams, French Studies 69.2, April 2015, 262
  • ‘Noonan's fascinating and comprehensive work, solidly grounded in psychoanalytical theory, successfully uncovers the complexities, intentions, and modalities of the audio-vocal theatre she sets out to explore, revealing both the specificity of the authors she addresses and the overarching unity of their focus, as each one purposed to create a new form of auditory theatre.’ — Kelsey L. Haskett, H-France 15, 2015
  • ‘What is particularly appealing is that the emphasis on the materiality of the spoken word that might be enjoyed for its affective and rhythmic qualities indicates a turn towards affective modes of theatre. While studies such as Lehmann’s Post- dramatic Theatre discuss this experiential turn in relation to stage practices, it is here investigated from the border of the text.’ — Cara Berger, New Theatre Quarterly 31.3, August 2015, 296
  • ‘...While the parallels drawn between Sarraute, Duras and Cixous are interesting in their own right, the inclusion of a fourth, more recent playwright, Renaude, also illustrates the productive continu- ation of the experimentation of the earlier generation. For all of these reasons and more, Noonan’s study will be of interest to scholars of theatre and voice, of French women’s writing and of psychoanalytic theories of language, body and gender.’ — Julia Waters, Modern and Contemporary France 2015
  • ‘Mary Noonan’s deeply researched study offers some very provocative thinking about contemporary French theatre... Noonan’s subtle analyses of plays and her carefully researched descriptions of productions make palpable the uncanny ambience that she applauds in these works.’ — Judith Miller, Modern Drama 59.1, Spring 2016
  • ‘A thought-provoking perspective on the plays of four French women writers whose theatrical innovations have largely remained overlooked.’ — Richard J. Gray II, Irish Journal of French Studies 15, 2016, 141-42

Bibliography entry:

Noonan, Mary, Echo's Voice: The Theatres of Sarraute, Duras, Cixous and Renaude, Research Monographs in French Studies, 36 (Legenda, 2014)

First footnote reference: 35 Mary Noonan, Echo's Voice: The Theatres of Sarraute, Duras, Cixous and Renaude, Research Monographs in French Studies, 36 (Legenda, 2014), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Noonan, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Noonan, Mary. 2014. Echo's Voice: The Theatres of Sarraute, Duras, Cixous and Renaude, Research Monographs in French Studies, 36 (Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Noonan 2014: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Noonan 2014: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

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