Elke Schroeder


Mother Tongue

This is a piece from the other side of the story. A visceral re-telling.

Villainesses come from the wrong side of history - but history’s authorship has been the domain of the Male victorious voice. 

What would Medusa’s tale read like through our deep-in-the-metoo-movement eyes? 

Would her punishments, her torment seem just? 


Would her actions feel justified, victim-blaming exposed, and her reputation restored?

This work is an embodied confession, an arduous, physicalized plea, a self-flagellating rant and an agonistic/ecstatic expression borne of crashing into a body’s limits of exertion. 

The idea for this solo came to me as a response to the #metoo movement. At the time that news was breaking, that more and more women were coming forward, I happened to be reading about Medusa - about how a different interpretation of her story would cast her as a victim of sexual assault in a male-dominated society, rather than a man-hating monster. I began reading the accounts of women who had suffered assaults, and also writings on the general experience of inequality (so mind-numbingly prevalent, so terribly common as to have almost become disappeared, a “non-issue”). I read about countless micro-aggressions that have been suffered - not only by women, but by all people that are not in the power positions of society. It was exhausting to read, to process. 

As a result came Mother Tongue. I wanted to create a piece in which I could vindicate those who have been victimized by showing their incredible power in the face of massive adversity. I wanted to show tenacity, strength, resilience, but also anger, vulnerability and the toll that this struggle takes on a human body. In the creation (and performance) I set myself the task (through many tasks) to push my physical limits; to exhaust myself so fully that I am struggling to stand up by the end - and literally, not as a theatrical enactment. I fall down, but we’re all starting to get up again.

This is the last stand of Medusa, A full-bodied scream for recognition from this powerful woman of mythology. It is an unconventional re-telling - but hopefully not unconventional forever.

Photo of Elke Schroeder, self-portrait/screen capture