D&D : Improvisation, September 2011
Title of session : There’s lots of women in the room, why are there still so few on the stage?
Called by : Stella
Attended by :
Phil W, Matilda, Sarah Jane, Kirsty, Mary, Alex, Neil H, Chris, Lucinka, Mufrida, Avena, Teresa, James, Dylan (and about 6 others I didn’t get names for) and Jim in not-presence (he said if he could have, he’d have been at the sessions and stayed to listen, just listen.)
Summary of discussions :
- is it a comedy thing? A feeling there might be more push in standup for new women performers, and not yet in impro/v?
- having more women helps a show, a feeling there’s more ‘heart’ in the show with more women (this was said by one of the men)
- Unscripted (US – LA) has load of women in cast and it’s/they’re brilliant.
- Not only, or not so much, about men needing to make space for women on stage, but also about women needing to step up, be brave, make those leaps themselves.
- Older men are useful? Useful because/when they’re less ‘punchy’?
- Women don’t always give themselves time/space to be brilliant.
- Basic male/female biology/attitudes/society still not giving women as much space as men (cf front benches, media, CEOs etc)
- Is it worse than 25 years ago? Is there less of a gander balances? (possibly, if 25 years ago there were several companies with 3 men and 2 women, and now there are several companies with 7 men and 2 women, then yes.)
- Women are sexualized, in the world anyway, so it makes it hard to step on stage – women, especially if only 1 or 2 in a company, are sexualized by the audience before they do anything.
- Women need experience of knowing being on stage just as themselves is enough.
- Because we have aligned ‘risk’ with a male model of risk (eg big, brave, open to fail, open to look stupid), it can be difficult for women to take ‘risks’ of those risks are defined by a male model. What would women’s risk-taking be like? Is there a possibility it might be different to men’s? what is a risk for a woman???
- “I’ve got better at deciding I’m not rubbish YET”
- it’s hard to send yourself up when you’re young (and women’s drop out rate being higher, so women get less practice?)
- women’s fear is different to men’s
- the difficulty for young women (and older!!) of not looking good on stage, in a society that places such very high value on women’s looks.
- We need to teach audiences and teach men as well as women that we’re better TOGETHER.
- The culture of scarcity that means women can enjoy being the one or two women in a group (partly because it can feel ‘special’, also partly, in a culture that casts women as wives and girlfriends rather than heroes, once the wife and girlfriend and mother roles are gone, there’s nothing left for the women to play)
- We have a culture (dame role) of finding men dressed as women funny, but not vice versa. The Dame gets a laugh, before doing anything, just because of the dress up, the status ‘drop’, the Principal Boy does not. (To do with perceived status – the man, usually high status, drops status to play women, so is funny,. The women, usually low status, raises status to play man. Not so funny.)
- Also the archetypes women are so often presented as are so traditional (the wife/mother ting) – so what Do we do when on stage if not those roles?
- Impro doesn’t reward niceness or chivalry (no? an uncertainty about this, some types of impro perhaps)
- In 20 years it doesn’t feel like it’s changed much (22 year old woman saying the same stuff a 48 year old women said 20 years ago) – it reflects the world we live in.
- It’s possible that we might do an amazing thing, with an all women impro company, a thing that’s never been done before, without trying we can’t know what it is.
- Matilda talked a little about world-work, ghost roles : that is a woman is not on stage, there IS sill a woman there, as a ghost role, and therefore it’s an invitation to be on stage. (this was said at the point where there were no men in the session, so perhaps there were men there, as ghost roles??!!)
- The history of women making fools of themselves in public is less than that of men. Getting women to play with status is a different leap than getting men to do the same.
- Something about what do we do with the content once we’re ON stage – that is, it’s not only about standing up; it’s also about using the space, using the time, being present.
ACTION – Stella is going to support Matilda in calling that women’s impro/v workshop that’s been talked about for a while now.
So ... Matilda??? xx