“Whereas theatre has been, to date, a combining of specialists, the essence of our theatre is to convey the collective experience. Only part of the message is in the content—the other part is that eleven women are working together to create new forms— a theatre without separation of roles (e.g. director, actress1 musician), a theatre without a stage to separate audience and players.”
When I started this little blog-venture one of the first things my roommate asked was when I was going to start talking about the more artsy parts of Feminism; Women who conveyed their thoughts through different mediums. This is because we go to Arts School and artists like to talk about other artists (sometimes).So I decided to look into some second-wave feminist theatre, which was only easy because I own a book called Feminism and Theatre.
The late 60s early 70s was a time of conscious-raising (of feminism in particular). Women would gather at meetings and share their stories and experiences about discrimination, social-issues, and what it meant to be a woman. These meetings where what would be the inspiration for the It’s All Right To Be Woman Theatre.
(A documentary about the It’s All Right To Be Woman Theare)
It’s All Right To Be Women was an ensemble group that took the story-telling structure of those meetings and combined it with theatrical elements to create a forum dedicated to empowering women. They also used cranks with images to visually tell stories. Here are two recreations of their pieces.
(“Sue’s Hairy Legs”)
“Crankie” was also used in the troupe’s title piece “It’s All Right To Be Woman” you can find of video of that here.
It’s difficult to find more information on It’s All Right To Be Woman, but there is also this mini documentary that will hopefully give a bit more insight to how the troupe operated.
(Don’t you just get so emotional when 9:10 when one of the troupe members asks “What did I do?” I cried.)
What is interesting to be about this company is that there seems to be no hesitation in their work, there was no “let’s stop and pause and figure out how we can articulate this message in a way that will eventually alienate our audiences” mentality that I see a lot. They were going to go out and speak to women and about women and that’s what they did. I’m not saying it was easy and perfect, if you watched that video you know it’s not, but they found a voice and they used it without any reservations. I think more theatre can benefit from that kind of daring.