Thursday, 14 August 2014

Wimmin and Me

Following on from my previous post about female art, a good question arrives on my twitter feed. Is it easy for me to know the gender of a writer or director if it is not written on the programme?

Nothing is easy for me, from getting up to going to sleep, and I certainly would not want to suggest that there is some essential difference between art made by men and women. I suppose it is possible to catalogue enough theatre to make some kind of generalisation, but I am not going to be doing that. It would pander to a gender essential that I don't support, would takes ages and I doubt that it would be conclusive.

Instead, I'll qualify my previous post pleasantly. It is those performances which explicitly address the representation of the female body and experience, like Sirens, that demand a female voice to engage with my opinions. I want to increase the discussion of theatre, not drive it into an argument about gender binaries.

The diversity of gender identity that is starting to be recognised ensures that any statement about 'male' or 'female' art is... idiotic. I sat down and worked it out once, and came up with seven possible genders. These range from CIS (that is, identified with body gender) male to... well, the other extreme is CIS female, but there are plenty of alternatives. Add in sexual identity and I ended up with forty nine combinations.

My attitude to theatre is that it is a safe space to learn about other experiences. That I don't moan about not understanding the physical experience of the South African actors in Race is only my lack of self-awareness... recognising difference might be the first step to addressing the problems it causes - and celebrating the good it brings. Since I can't stand looking at myself in the mirror, I think difference is a good thing.

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