Saturday, 5 August 2017

Safe Dramaturgy: Clara Glynn @ Edfringe 2017

SAFE PLACE at the Attic, Rose Theatre, Gilded Balloon
Hopscotch Films presents

Safe Placeby Clara Glynn

A timely drama exploring the tricky relationship between trans rights and feminism.

Martine is a well-known feminist. She’s written a newspaper article about how she feels she should offer shelter to a homeless person. At four in the morning Rowan bangs on her door and Martine gives her a bed for the night. But Rowan is not what she seems, the political becomes the personal and Martine is in for a bumpy ride.

Feminist writers Germaine Greer and Julie Bindel have been non-platformed, criticised and derided for their attitudes to Trans. Novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie came under fire for questioning if the experiences of transgender women, who are born with the privileges the world accords to men, are distinct from those of women born female. Women’s Hour presenter Jenni Murray was censured by her employer, the BBC, for bias when she expressed disquiet over, among other things, demands that breast cancer and breastfeeding be renamed “chest cancer” and “chestfeeding” in an article headlined “be trans, be proud but don’t call yourself a real woman”.


Venue: Studio (Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre)
Time: 12:00 (13:00)
Dates: 13-28 August
Tickets: £10 (£8)
Fringe box office: 0131 226 0000 /

What was the inspiration for this performance?

Reading and thinking about the conflict between feminism and trans rights.  I became fascinated by this whole debate. The battle lines seem so firmly drawn.  Both sides are talking at each other but not to each other.  Many women I know are quietly conflicted about this, and don’t know what to think.  So its a really rich area to write about

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

I think it’s one of the best.  You can articulate and explore an issue in a nuanced way. My favourite plays are the ones where you go into the bar afterwards and people are arguing about it.  SAFE PLACE is definitely one of those.

How did you become interested in making performance?
I’ve always been interested 

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
It’s a scripted play.  My background is TV documentary so I research subjects in depth before I start writing - reading stuff, books and online, interviewing people.  Then once you get a cast into a rehearsal room it takes on a life of it’s own and starts moving in surprising directions

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

No!  I started my professional life doing student theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe but I’ve spent most of my career as a TV director and a writer.  This is my first theatre production for 20 years

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I hope the people in the audience who are already engaged with this issue will find it stimulating, and those who’ve never thought much about it will think on.  I’d like people to laugh too.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

I put two people in the room who have radically different ideas about the world and let the sparks fly.  I hope the audience tilts between agreeing with one of them then the other.  

Trans activists like Laverne Cox and Paris Lees aren’t taking any of it: “None of trans people’s enemies impress me,” Paris says, “Anybody who’s really good and achieving anything, who’s smashing it at the moment, are for trans people and anyone against us, as far as I can see, are these miserable has-beens or never-weres”

Writer Clara Glynn says: “I became fascinated by this whole debate. The battle lines seem so firmly drawn. Both sides are talking at each other but not to each other. Many women I know are quietly conflicted about this, and don’t know what to think. So it’s a really rich area to write about. I thought what if I put an older feminist and a young trans woman in a room together and they just had to talk to each other? And that was how the play began.”

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