Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The Fringe Mansplained!

I have a very strict rule when talking about feminism: it always has to have an adjective. Saying a work is 'feminist' is both too simple and too complicated.

It's simple because it reduces feminism to a monolithic block of thought. It's complicated because it fails to open up conversations about what that description actually means.

So, as a reminder of how great patriarchy is, I am going to list a performance feminist top five... and label each show with an adjective to say what kind of feminism it represents. 

Before I go on: if you want to read proper feminist blog...

First up: Smooth Faced Gentlemen

I dig this company because their name sounds like a hip hop crew. They do all-female versions of Shakespeare. This year they have Titus  and Othello. Some genius on The List has lumped them in with some other female companies - he's such a lazy writer - but what feminism are they?

Well, turns out this is hard. A single adjective is not enough. 

The feminism that looks at gender by switching male to female and vice versa, and seeing what happens. 

Experimental Feminism.

Moving swiftly on: Desiree Burch

It is unlikely that I am going to shut up about Tar Baby in the next three years. I have a total art crush on Burch, and my interview with her has me being schooled by her. I usually worry about the USA's cultural imperialism but I want her to stay in Scotland forever and preach.

The feminism that recognises the intersectionality of race and gender and challenges cultural norms.

Dynamic Feminism.

The next show: Pole

This show deserves props not just for messing with expectations of what a midnight pole-dance show can be, but also for their support of Eaves Charity. They have not just taken the words of dancers and used him to get a theatrical thrill... they are helping fight trafficking of women.

The feminism that is ready to put money where its mouth is.

Activist Feminism.

The Penultimate: Fiona Soe Paing

Is a work a priore feminist because a woman made it? Or is feminism is the moment of connection between audience and art? Or am I making a list of cool stuff by women and using 'feminism' as a tag to link them? I have a slight obsession with the wooden doll that is the image of this show... but a woman in the macho world of electronic music is worth celebrating, especially when they never get booked at festivals.

The feminism that works in a medium dominated by men.

Subversive Feminism.

And finally: Diane Torr

I saw Donald...  at Buzzcut. Wait for the finale if you fancy seeing a layered male to female to female to male... she makes it complicated... so Diane does Donald doing Dusty. She also does Man for A Day workshops, with gives context to the show (as the show gives context to her remarkable career).

The feminism that messes with strict gender identities, reminding that it is all performed.

Torr Feminism.

There we go, Ladies. Feminism explained. I don't know what the fuss was about...

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