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.
I think it is getting better now but there was definitely, at least 20 years ago a lot less female directors for instance and the roles for women seemed to be somewhat limited for roles for women as the classic mother or whore or maid, not exciting lead roles often in stories. We basically started out of theatre school and we thought first of all we’re ready, we graduated, here we are, actors, hire us and it wasn’t happening. We would audition and then the roles weren’t that satisfying. Ok what we’ll do we’ll put on a show, we’ll show everybody how great we are and then we’ll work full time as actors. Basically we did that and they didn’t come calling but we found the work to be very gratifying and much more fulfilling than what we’d ever been offered in terms of roles so that’s kinda where [Shameless Hussy Productions] was born out of theatre school at UBC. We see a lot more theatre directors and women in theatre, telling and writing the stories. I don’t think we’re fully caught up but it’s a little heartening to see that for sure, at least in theatre.
I think that part of our job as theatre practitioners is to educate. We choose to do topics through a feminine perspective but for us it’s more about bringing light to a situation and not having the answers and not knowing all the answer but to just pose the question and get people talking. Hey, did you know this is happening and what are we going to do about it. That’s the ideal for us, we get people talking and hopefully making change.
I think there is a difference about how we approach the work. I know as a director I am very much about collaboration, and through that I think there is a cross pollinization of ideas with designers and with feeding into the actors, feeding into the stage manager and how everything is viewed. We can share ideas and actually be inspired by somebody else’s idea and take that further. In terms of my directing I like to collaborate I like to see what others have to offer. And yes I believe it’s about honing in and pulling all the ideas together and making a single unit but I think in more of a patriarchal view of it with some directors is that they’re the ones who are in charge and their vision and this is how it’s going to be done. That’s definitely not my approach, I think that might be a more female way of looking at things, like how do you approach it, okay that’s one idea, let’s have another idea, let’s see what we’ve got and then let’s choose the best or combine the ideas to come up with the best. I am also very much about not tying it up in a neat little bow and handing it over. Not that that’s so male but I think it’s more of a female perspective to be in the question.
I am definitely drawn to certain stories and certain issues because I am a woman, there’s no getting around that it’s just how I feel, where I come from. I don’t think we need to apologize about that. There was something about Hillary playing the female card and it’s like, well, she is a woman. I don’t know about playing the card it’s just that she is female, it’s from her perspective. There is no other way to look at that.
I think a world with just female perspectives or just male perspectives would actually be boring. I would like it to be a little bit more equal, that’s the way I see things. We always say Men can be Hussies too. We have many men that are on board with us. They are definitely feminist and hussies. We don’t want to be at war with men, that’s not what I want to be doing. I just want all voices, our voice to be heard too and to look at things from all angles not just from one traditional way of seeing the world.