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.

Nina Lee Aquino

(Transcribed from a phone interview)

Feminine perspective, at the most basic means from a woman’s perspective although I don’t necessarily agree with that. I recognize that’s my own bias with the term feminist because I guess I don’t think or operate in that way, like what’s masculine or feminine. In terms of a feel or an aesthetic it’s not something that I use as a descriptor. But I guess at the most obvious level when I hear the term feminine perspective I think right away ‘Oh it’s a woman’s perspective as opposed to a man that might have “female or feminine aesthetic.” At a knee jerk reaction of what that means that’s what I immediately think of. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be assigned to a gender.

I would question why is it feminine because again, aren’t we narrowing that lens? Is my perspective feminine? I would think a lot of people would have different answers for that. 

The stage is where anything and everything can happen. Are there plays that both show feminine and masculine sides of a story? I think any play can have that balance. You can have something that is very masculine driven like Banana Boys but what does it say that the director is female and that the design team is female? So, has now this play about five Asian Canadian boys and their lives been feminized? I don’t know. And the writer is also a male, a Filipino Canadian at that, not even a Chinese Canadian so has also the story of five Chinese Canadian boys been Filipino-ised? I don’t know if there is a black and white answer to that. The more complex we can make pieces and the more layers of perspectives we can put on to these plays I think the more interesting it is and the deeper the drama goes. Because then our audiences can read into it differently and the different multi prismatic perspective and the messages are different, which to me is kinda neat. There’s the creator but there’s also the interpreters of that creation and you can spin on that in anything. You can put your feminine touch or, by virtue of who I am as a Filipino woman I will put, as a director, myself in that play. I put everything in, everything of myself, in the work that I do and how I interpret. I have my Filipino Canadian lens on but what that means is very different from another Filipino Canadian director or from a Chinese Canadian male director, from a South Asian male director. I am one of those that really loves to blur those lines because I’m not interested in defining the borders. I love being able to cross all of those and blur them up so to speak.

For the season that I just closed here at Factory lots of those borders were blurred. I really wanted to fuck those up and I wanted to shake up the expectations. I really wanted to question creator and interpretation and I think it really made for a much deeper and a fresher way of looking at these so called classics.