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HERSTORY : FEMINIST THEATRE FESTIVAL at Theatre N16 6&7 of August
By Nastazja Domaradzka
I recently became a literary manager at the fringe venue Theatre N16 in Balham. Since taking the position in April, and reading plenty of new writing, I have been thinking a lot about the female voice in theatre and how often it gets lost amongst many other things. I began to crave a platform for women's stories, a way in which playwrights and artists be it male or female could come together to talk about modern feminism. This is how HERSTORY was born.
“I am a feminist”, in the liberal world of theatre in which I tend to spent most of my time; is a statement that won't really shock or cause a negative reaction from anyone. Of course bad apples tend to pop here and there with their chauvinistic attitude, but in general artists are happy to admit that women are people too. But does that mean that gender equality has been achieved in the arts industry? No. As I write this article there is a Facebook post going viral from a young female director who was rejected for a position at Kenneth Branagh New Writing Awards at the Windsor Fringe Festival. The post includes a screen-shot of the rejection email in which it states “the committee and play's writer have agreed that a male director would be better for this play”. Pretty shocking. So, yes, still a long way to go.
However there is also a different agenda behind HERSTORY. I want to curate a festival which will be a chance for up and coming playwrights and artists to tackle important issues surrounding feminism. We live in times when one of the main contestants for the position of PM, is a woman who openly admits she is not a feminist for she is not anti-men. Are we regressing? But forget this country for a second and look to the east, where women in Poland are under threat as the right wing government gets ready to alter abortion law, making the termination of pregnancy illegal under all circumstances. Yes, that includes rape too. Look further east and see women being stoned to death. You might think that serious gender equality problems don't really concern the “modern western world”. Have a look at Ireland, where every day around 12 women travel to the UK to undergo an abortion. And then of course there is the Sanford case in the US, where in the aftermath the newspapers decided that it was their duty not to highlight what happened, but instead publish Brock’s swimming times.
Gloria Steinem, one of the most influential women on this planet, began her fight for women’s rights over 50 years ago. A lot has changed since then, but not enough. I believe that it is our duty to keep this fight going, speaking out for the vulnerable and ill-treated. Making theatre is all about telling stories, provoking thoughts and inspiring revolutions, no matter on what big a scale. And it is time to make HERSTORY, not history.
HERSTORY A FEMINIST THEATRE FESTIVAL IS ON AT THEATRE N16 6&7 OF AUGUST