The Subjectiles at Work: The secret art of the 9 Fridas

Tsu Chung Su*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The 9 Fridas was one of the feature productions of the 2014 Taipei Arts Festival, which was produced by Mobius Strip Theatre Company in association with Hong Kong Repertory Theatre and staging at The Wellspring Theater in Taipei on September 5-7. Directed by Phillip Zarrilli and scripted by Kaite O'Reilly, the production of The 9 Fridas attempted to portray Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) from a wide variety of perspectives. What it evoked, for me, went beyond the theme "ways of looking" designated by the festival organizer and directed our attention to what I term "the subjectiles of Kahlo." This paper is concerned with Frida Kahlo, a woman of many faces and layers, and The 9 Fridas, a production which claims to offer an alternative interpretation and a refashioned representation of Frida Kahlo. The notion of subjectile is essential to the overall scheme of the paper. As a critical device, it serves both as a method for thematic study and as a tool for aesthetic exploration, and through which we can closely examine the interpretation and performance of Kahlo's life and art as manifested in the script and the production of The 9 Fridas. In this paper, first of all, I explore the subjectiles of Frida Kahlo in the "Prologue." Its purpose is not just to highlight the layered complexities of Kahlo's life, paintings, and legacy but also to chart some trajectories projected from The 9 Fridas. Next, of all the layers and subjectiles, I intend to tease out three unique aspects of The 9 Fridas for discussion-that is, the play's textiles, actiles, and affectiles-in the hope that we can read both the play and its production as well as Kahlo's life and paintings anew. Finally this paper attempts to assess the production of The 9 Fridas critically.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-97
Number of pages33
JournalTamkang Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 1


  • Frida Kahlo
  • Kaite O'reilly
  • Phillip Zarrilli
  • Psychophysical acting
  • Subjectile
  • The 9 Fridas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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