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.

Catherine Banks

How do you approach your work as a female practitioner? Does the feminine perspective inform your work?

In Donald Revell’s book THE ART OF ATTENT!ON, A Poet’s Eye he quotes Henry David Thoreau, “As you see so at length will you say.”  I think that sums up my answer to these two questions. I have a female gaze on the world and so ultimately that informs what I see and how I say.

How do you approach choosing the work? What do you look for?

It may sound cliche to say this but I don’t choose the work it chooses me. A character comes forward and if that character seems at its core urgent and authentic then I am hooked to find out the story they are moving through.

What does the feminine perspective mean to you?

It means that every character male/female is fully realized in all their complexities.

Is it important to have the feminine perspective on stage? If so, why?

A few days after the Jian Ghomeshi verdict came down I wrote this: I can’t help thinking that if the lives of women were told authentically by women writers/directors/artists on our stages, in our films and on TV and if our stories took up half the space instead of 20% (or less) that women would be believed. There are so many false narratives about women in our culture that seep into our relationships, our communities and our police and justice systems. Seeing is believing. So much work to do to make women fully seen and therefore fully believed.

According to you, what stories need the most telling? How is this reflected in your practice?

I believe that like Willie Loman attention must be paid to everyone. Everyone on this planet is a compelling story if you pay close attention. However there are a great many people that, up to this point, have not been given access to the stage to tell their stories. For example I am very excited about the establishment of the Indigenous Theatre at the NAC. I want to hear First Nations stories for the same reasons I want the feminine perspective on stage—it is how we will begin to bring about understanding and change in a deep way.

I try not to create work that can be boxed up and labelled as one thing or another. I currently live in a working fishing village on the East Coast. Right now I am interested in writing a story about middle-aged man who fishes and the oceans are warming. I want to write a play about one man standing on the edge of his known world looking at a tsunami of the unknown coming straight at him that (I hope) will move the audience because I paid close attention and wrote what I saw.  Whether the story can be labelled as needing to be told is for others to decide, my job is to tell the story of the character(s) that step(s) forward.