In the past decade and a half, feminism and gender studies have undergone a process of critical self-scrutiny and re-assessment. Presently, the fields of theatre and performance studies are undertaking a similar project of self-evaluation, as evidenced by recent calls to assess the ‘state of the field’ as well as its future directions. Elaine Aston and Geraldine Harrison suggest in their recent co-edited volume, Feminist Futures? Theatre, Performance, Theory, that any attempt to envision the future must begin by examining the present, which in turn entails looking to, and reflecting on, the legacies and remains of the past. In her article for this issue of TRI, ‘A Critical Step to the Side: Performing the Loss of the Mother’, Aston does precisely this, asking, ‘in what ways it might be critically productive to come back to the maternal as a subject for feminism’.