Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

"the silent treatment": Absence as Presence in Linda McLean's Gendered Environments

Morgan McKean, K S


K S Morgan McKean


The landscapes of Linda McLean’s plays hold the bodies and voices of those the characters onstage have lost, creating echoes that connect to ideas of retelling, of hauntings that go beyond individual and cultural reenactments. This sense of echoes is present in the way that McLean uses overlapping voices: the space literally echoing and creating memory as soundscape through the dialogue. This alters the audience’s perception of space as boundaries overlap, and of time. In form and theme, McLean stages what Derrida describes as “the doubtful contemporaneity of the present to itself” (48); in Shimmer (2004) she provides space for the women to rewrite and claim agency within their own stories. In this article I consider the ways in which McLean genders the theatrical environment through her use of form, positioning her audiences to witness, rehearse, or even realize a different or “intermediate future” (Badiou, The Century 138). In Sex & God (2012), McLean stages an environment in which time and space do not exist. In such a place, silence finds articulation, and even the absent are theatrically present. In these works, McLean engages with and even literalizes ideas about theater that are often understood as metaphors to explore echoes of trauma. Drawing on devices of ritual and retelling, she provides opportunities for her ideas to alter perceptions beyond the liminal stage space.


Morgan McKean, K. S. (2016). "the silent treatment": Absence as Presence in Linda McLean's Gendered Environments. Contemporary Women's Writing, 10(1), 85-104.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 12, 2015
Online Publication Date Jan 5, 2016
Publication Date Mar 1, 2016
Deposit Date May 8, 2019
Journal Contemporary Women's Writing
Print ISSN 1754-1476
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 10
Issue 1
Pages 85-104
Public URL
Publisher URL