Making mischief and bad behaviour

Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. : an hour long play by Alice Birch, part of Making Mischief, a festival of new plays at the Other Place, RSC, Stratford. Making Mischief focuses on what is unsayable in the 21st century with four plays that include explorations of language, race, gender and contemporary life in general.

Revolt explores the language, behaviour and forces that shape women in the 21st century. As the blurb selflessly declares: it is not a well-behaved play.

And, boy, do we like things that are badly behaved: there’s just something about unruliness that resonates with the self. It excites, trembles at one’s foundations. And resonates with what life really is like.

To be labelled a play, one must assume that Revolt conforms to certain things: dialogue, character, structure, a level of meaning-making perhaps.

And so what does a badly behaved play look and feel like? How is it unruly? What rules does it disobey?


“I want to make love to you” // “I want to make love with you”


“I just don’t want to work on Mondays”

were two scenes that enunciated the ways in which language – and thinking – can become fixed and embedded in culture. By exposing this, Revolt started to disrupt the dominance of the verbal.

We’ve been talking a bit about Kristeva and this reminded me of her text The Sense and Non-Sense of Revolt where she highlights revolt as related to creative, intellectual, artistic, or psychological thinking but as different to revolution as a political act.

When one performs or deliberately represents the revolutionary, one ceases revolting. This makes me think: perhaps unruliness can happen on a more tacit level beneath structure but beyond the purely communicative and on the level of sense?


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