Wednesday, August 30, 2006

feminist theatre......

in North Staffordshire.

The Vagina Monologues and Oleanna are coming to town.

The Vagina Monologues is for one night only, the Oleanna is on for 2 weeks.

I have posted about both on froomblog.

The Vagina Monologues is very populist theatre and can fairly easily be seen as light entertainment, rather than feminist theatre. I saw it last year at the Regent Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent - the acting was rather poor on the whole. Although there are serious moments when the women on stage are telling stories of other women's experiences of rape, sexual violence and oppression, it's the comedy that stands out, and turns it into a "show". I think that's where the message is lost along the way. We need light relief, of course, but, for example, the section of the show where one woman talks about her cunt, was played just for laughs and missed the point.

Oleanna is totally serious playwriting and is challenging for the audience. When I saw it a few years ago it really made me think about gender roles, power, politics, education and other things too. It's being put on at the New Victoria Theatre, a repertory theatre-in-the-round, which is great as they hardly ever stage straight political drama. This season marks the change over from one director to another at the theatre - both women, so I hope this is the start of a new, more political era for them, more like it was when the theatre was the Old Vic in it's old venue.


birdychirp said...

Interesting as always to read your views - I've seen the Vagina Monologues twice and have the book, and think its great.

While I agree with you that in some shows it seems a bit lightweight - I wonder if its only lightweight to women who already have strong feminist views - and perhaps if women who are uncertain about feminism watched it they would feel empowered?

Of course, women who are uncertain about feminism may not go and see it anyway....

yclepta said...

Thanks birdy - my opinion is based on the audience in Stoke last year - mostly groups of women in high heels on "girls nights out"...although there are no hippies in Stoke to speak of, and it's the sort of place where I stand out like a sore thumb for being "non-conformist" which sometimes feels very isolated and challenging, especially when I was younger, so I think most women stick to the norms of appearance, whatever their beliefs round here.
I didn't know there was a book - I will get it.

Winter said...

I wonder if its only lightweight to women who already have strong feminist views.

I think so. This play has been important in forming a feminist consciousness for a lot of women I know.

I also think so much depends on the production. This is one play that is almost always much better as an amateur production.

yclepta said...

I think you're probably right - I made a poor judgement really, although I an sure you're right about amateur productions being much better. The "showbiz" feel of it was a bit distracting.
Staffordshire Uni students put on a production in 2005 which I missed. I would really like to be involved in a local amateur performance.....I would even organise one.....there's an idea!!