“Whatever affects individuals in capitalism affects women, and whatever affects women affects queer women”
BY ERIN MANIATOPOULOU. IMAGES BLUE STOCKING EFFIGY.
Blue Stocking Effigy, a new theatre company lead by two, queer women, bring their production of Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. to The Space, London, this weekend, until 2 February 2020 (grab your tickets!)
Written by Australian artist Alice Birch, Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again., pays close attention to how female subjects are treated both on stage and in real life. Highly experimental, this work gives female actors the chance to pour their own voice into its nameless characters.
On a small stage, Blue Stocking Effigy brought to us the stories of different women, allowing their audience to observe them closely. A simple setting, serving as either a house or an office, accommodates all four acts. Acts one to three are dialogues. Issues of gender language change into material questions of marriage, of women in capitalism, women raped and colonised, women desperate for refusal of the roles imposed on them.
By act four, everything is deconstructed and there isn’t dialogue anymore. All previous characters enter and leave the stage, acting at the same time. We witness conversations, haunting solo performances, disturbing statements about or directed to women, and a lack of genuine solutions provided in a system that benefits from oppression
Each act in the play begins under the lights of a projector above all the characters, broadcasting messages to them: Revolutionise. Each time the slogan is followed by brackets exposing its real meaning, while women are given no real alternative to their situations.
In many ways, this play is a call to arms. It exposes the contradictions in simply refusing sexism in words, which is promoted as “revolutionary” by the very agents of the status quo.
We later spoke to the producers, Krysianna Papadakis and Hanna Psychas, who expressed how important it was to them to place feminist and community values in the heart of what they do, as well as having honest, two-way communication with the women they cast.
This attitude really paid off on stage. Everyone’s performance was outstanding – especially the female characters who managed to find a great balance between the humorous and the disturbing; the coded and the clearly stated. Actresses Jacintha Hunter and Mary Tillet both said they enjoyed turning into characters who really differed from them, and found the whole process liberating.
When asked about the choice for this play, Krysianna told me that despite it “not being a queer play” (the kind of work they usually focus on), they saw a very fundamental theme in Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.: We cannot forget that whatever affects individuals in capitalism affects women, and whatever affects women affects queer women.
Even in queer relations, Krysianna explained, it’s important to be aware of power dynamics and heterosexist stereotypes. The Blue Stockings Effigy’s production is promising for the kind of work we might yet see by the company in the not-too-distant future.
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