This post is part of a series for our Her Side of the Story encounter, May 13-14 2016 located at the National Theatre School of Canada. We invited theatre artists from across Canada to reflect on how their work in theatre is influenced by their perspective as women. Are they conscious of promoting a “feminine perspective” or is it something that is intuitive? Imago Theatre would like to thank all of the artists who responded to our questions for their thoughtful, insightful responses. We will be sharing these responses on our blog for the first two weeks of May. We will also be creating a publication of selected quotes, which will be available for free at the Her Side of the Story readings, long-table discussion, and cabaret.
A friend of mine had sat on a theatre jury and made an observation based on the work presented that season that female playwrights tended to write about personal agenda while male playwrights did not. As a female playwright of colour, many assume what defines me are issues of feminism, race, or even themes of identity, but I would counter that it’s actually justice. And perhaps why I’ve written so much about high school is because it was my first interaction injustice. It was infuriating listening to a math teacher educating us about a dress code that banned teen girls from wearing tops that revealed our midriffs claiming that it made it near impossible for male teachers to avoid arousal. I’m sorry. ARE YOU KIDDING ME. The solution was to censor women’s bodies rather than educating both genders… in an institute of education??? Since the age of 10, subtext to young women like me has been to accept double standard after double standard as unchangeable fact while simultaneously rewarding women who renounce the word “feminism” and treat it like the ultimate f-word. When I first started performing my shows about high school, I felt like I was delivering my own vigilante justice bonding with other women who came to see the show who like me, identified with the unfairness. But as time rolls on, I see the justice I’m looking for isn’t in telling stories to other women or other South Asians, though that’s a vital half of the equation; change is impossible when we subtract men from the conversation or eliminate them from firsthand accounts of what it is to be a woman growing up in a world where one gender enjoys particular privileges. Honestly, I don’t go out of my way to write about gender or race. But when I think about my friend’s observation about female playwrights I think about how little stage time female characters much less female artists are awarded. So as opposed to my heterosexual white male counterparts, when I get a play on a mainstream, professional stage my experience leads me to believe, “This is it. This is my chance; I gotta make the most of it and say what I gotta say. Because I don’t know when they’ll let me back up here again.”