A Hysterical Woman

A Hysterical Woman is a performance piece by Rita Cheng and Akmyrat Tuyliyev. Inspired by both readings of late Victorian era feminist literature (particularly, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman) and current political developments, the piece makes literal the fears of outspoken women.

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Captive Audience

It would be an easy job, they said. Completely mindless, and you’d make a quick buck. It was true that it was mindless, but as it turns out, clapping for anybody with an ego and a wallet wasn’t as easy as it looks. It was sometimes hard to figure out when they expected applause, and sometimes the speakers would want applause for the most inane things. They would finish their sentence, and stand there, waiting expectantly, eager for validation. So I’d clap, and the rest of the audience would clap too. Sometimes I would clap just because someone else in the audience decided to applaud. This usually worked out, but sometimes the speaker would not expect it, standing over their microphone confused.

I wasn’t sure how many of us were paid to be there. You’d get a bonus if your applause seemed more genuine, so sometimes I would throw in a few hoots and hollers. I usually saved it for when someone else was cheering. One time I cheered when nobody else did, and a woman in front of me turned to look at me. That was embarrassing.

The worst was when they wanted applause for horrible things. I don’t think I’m very political, but it was occasionally appalling what I’d be expected to clap for. Still, I told myself, I was taking money that they would’ve used for something more immoral, and feeding myself with it instead. That is how I justified this whole affair.

I sometimes wondered if they realized how empty it all was. Sometimes people would look conflicted, but others would just look proud. I guess it’s nice to receive applause. I don’t remember the last time I was applauded. Was it my sixth grade flute recital? Shit, that was a long time ago.

In any case, I need the money to get on my feet again. Hopefully, I can get a better job soon. For now, clapping for people isn’t the worst thing in the world.


CAPTIVE AUDIENCE is a very silly piece that will clap for your speeches!

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“Yay, speech! Gotta clap!”