A matter of consent

Playwright and long time Whoop ‘n’ Wail collaborator, Dan Horrigan, tells us about his play, Face the Camera and Smile, which features in this month’s 50/50 at the Arts Theatre, London as part of the Women In The West End Festival.

The 50/50 Festival caught my attention because it’s a welcome and required concept – present work where the balance of genders is equal, what you see on the stage is a parity. In it’s way it is contributing to a sea change taking place right now in British Theatre – to do with representation.

I am currently redrafting my play Face The Camera And Smile, a scene from which is part of the 50/50 Festival. It was previously shortlisted for The Kings Cross Award for New Writing in 2009. It was also treated very kindly by Writers Avenue with readings of the first 20 minutes at The Rosemary Branch, The Pleasance, and Soho Theatre.

At the time, there was a lot of pressure to redraft the play for its various readings at each venue. I held off the deep redrafts, providing only a few tweaks and a bit of polish. I have always been fascinated by how things change over time, and at the time the question was ‘how do you end conflict responsibly?’ – we were coming out of Afghanistan and the question seemed pertinent. I wasn’t ready to end the play, because there was no end in sight.

A repeated comment on my play was it may no longer be of interest because the war in Iraq was old news. I knew these comments were hopelessly limited. Sometimes a play has a deeper question than that posed by the buzz of the zeitgeist. Writers are often put under pressure to comment in the present tense.

Coming back to the play I now see that the actual drive for the play was consent.  The fact is we went to war without a mandate, and the dodgy dossier was a pack of lies. The Government did not have our consent to go to war. The people of Iraq did not invite us to destroy their lives.

I hope Face the Camera and Smile will be a salient reminder that when the simple things are not given their due recognition the consequences affect us all. Going to war without a mandate or proper justification is part of a long line of transgression by continuous governments in the UK that led to unmitigated disasters and untold humanitarian suffering.

Working on the 50/50 Festival is an opportunity for me to re-ignite the powder trail that leads to the play’s themes – themes which are played out through consent on a micro and macro level and are gendered. In doing so we hope to inspire our audience to ask questions about what is done in our name, or not, and where it is taking us.

The changes to the script are the result of waiting. As such I feel a deeper commitment to the story and what I am trying to put out there for your consideration.

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Dan Horrigan (@DBHorrigan) is a writer and director working in film and theatre. His play Three Women and a Music Box recieved a five star review when it was performed at Whoop ‘n’ Wail Represents…The Launch in 2014 and then in 2015 Dan returned to Whoop ‘n’ Wail for Represents…Desire in 2015 but this time, as a director. His work on 3AM by Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich was also reviewed with five stars.

Face the Camera and Smile by Dan Horrigan, directed by Zachary James, will be performed by Ali Kemp (Sarah) and Fergal Phillips (Danny) on Wednesday 30th March at 3pm & 7.30pm at The Arts Theatre, London. Click here for tickets and for more information about Women In The West End, head to the Anonymous Is A Woman Theatre Company website.

 

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“Acting is the reality of doing”

This month, Sienna Miller revealed that she turned down a Broadway play, a two-hander, because she was being offered less than half the pay of her male co-star. Turning down an opportunity like this is a brave move career-wise, and revealing the fact braver still.

As we well know there are far fewer roles for women in theatre, film and TV – and as a result, actresses can ill-afford to be turning any roles down, even if you are a Hollywood star. Emma Thompson acknowledged that, at the age of 56, she took the role of a 77 year old woman in the film The Legend of Barney Thomson – even though it would have been nice for a 77 year old actress to play it – because it was ‘a wildly comic role and I couldn’t resist’. And having been told by a producer that, at 37, Maggie Gyllenhaal was too old to play a romantic counterpart to a 55 year old man, she apparently felt sad, then angry and then laughed.

Well, perhaps if you didn’t laugh, you’d cry. How should we respond to this?

Legendary American acting coach Sandford Meisner said “Acting is the reality of doing”. He was talking about an actor’s approach to their craft – living truthfully in the imaginary circumstances of the play. Should not a play then live truthfully within the world in which it inhabits, in order to reflect and engage with the audience, no matter what the imaginary circumstances? So, if it’s all about the ‘reality of doing’, let’s do it!

As Viola Davis accepted her ‘Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama’ Emmy, the first African-American to ever receive the accolade, she made a point of thanking the writers of How to Get Away with Murder for being the people who “redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black”. On the same night, Orange Is the New Black star Uzo Aduba became the first actress to win both a drama and comedy Emmy for the same role. She expressed her gratitude to show creator Jenji Kohan, thanking her for “making this show, for creating this space, for creating a platform”.

At Whoop ‘n’ Wail HQ, we are very proud of all the writers who have risen to the Whoop ‘n’ Wail Represents… challenge since it’s launch in 2014 – because it is that very reality of doing, and of having a space and platform, that will make real change in the future.

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Here it is: The line-up for the third Represents… showcase!

Mayday - Banner

We wish to extend our thanks to all the writers from across the UK who have sent us their work in response to the theme of Mayday. It has truly been a pleasure to read such a broad range of plays, all of which include significant female characters and in doing so bring theatre in the UK closer to achieving realistic gender representation.

We are excited to be able to announce the line up for the third Whoop ‘n’ Wail Represents… returning to Waterloo East Theatre on 27th & 28th April 2015:

Whoop ‘n’ Wail Represents…Mayday

The Clearing by Paul Howard, directed by Alice Bonifacio

The Shipping Forecast by Lizzie Bourne, directed by James Callas Ball

The M Word by Brian Redmond, directed by Georgie Weedon

Madjesty by Ali Kemp & Deborah Klayman, directed by Paul Taylor

Resting by William Patterson, directed by Janet L Palmer

Grit by Sarah Davies, directed by Marc Kelly

Congratulations to all the successful playwrights, and we look forward to seeing your work on stage at the end of April!

We are welcoming Lizzie Bourne back to Represents… as she has performed in the previous two showcases and is now sharing her talent as a writer. Alice Bonifacio and Paul Taylor are also returning as directors for Team Represents…; and we are delighted that James Callas Ball, Georgie Weedon, Janet L Palmer and Marc Kelly will be joining them for the first time.

Our playwrights have been put in touch with their directors and casting is well underway.

All there is to do now is for you to book your tickets! Remember there is a £2 discount if you book in advance – plus you don’t want to be one of those people who we’ve had to turn away when the performances have sold out!

Whoop ‘n’ Wail Represents…Mayday
Waterloo East Theatre, London, SE1 8TG
Monday 27th & Tuesday 28th April 2015, 7.30pm
Tickets on sale now: £10 in advance (£12 on the door)
Box office: 020 7928 0060 / www.waterlooeast.co.uk

Approximate running time: 2 hours 15 including interval.

OOs

  innovation   •   entertainment   •   social justice

Represents..The Launch..The line-up

***************TICKETS ON SALE NOW**********

http://waterlooeast.ticketsolve.com/shows/873523779/events?show_id=873523779

We are super excited to announce our fantastic line up for Whoop ‘n’ Wail Represents…The Launch on Monday 17th & 24th at Waterloo East Theatre, 7.30pm!

The Final Frontier by Sam Hall, directed by John Mitton

Three Women in a Music Box by Dan Horrigan, directed by Alice Bonifacio

Cause for Alarm by Deborah Klayman, directed by Emily Bush

On the Horizon by Adam Hughes, directed by Sarah Davies

Dust by Sarah Davies, directed by Norman Murray

My Bloody Laundrette by Ali Kemp & Deborah Klayman, directed by Paul Taylor

Casting done, rehearsals underway, props being sourced, all we need now is you! Book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.

http://waterlooeast.ticketsolve.com/shows/87352377/events?show_id=873523779

Can feminists be funny?

This week, as we continue writing on our top secret new project we were very interested to hear the discussion on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s hour: can feminists be funny? Well as two women who are endeavouring to write a play packed with LOLs, we certainly hope so. The women from Funny Women we met at this year’s WOW festival at the South Bank would definitely say so. Find out more about their Funny Women Award Semi Finals this week and their forthcoming Edinburgh shows at http://www.funnywomen.com/

On the same episode of Woman’s hour last Friday, they also interviewed Juliet Lyon from the Prison Reform Trust about their findings that only half of all women on remand receive visits from their families as with only 13 women’s prisons in the country, women are often taken far from their family networks. Susan Calman was also joined by an ex-offender who talked about her own experiences of this. This was an issue that struck us while we were researching eXclusion as taking women far away from their support networks and indeed their children, can have far reaching implications.

At the time of writing this post, you can still listen to the broadcast but it is not clear on the website for how long:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01kksqw

In other news:

Mirja Breitholtz who wrote the music for eXclusion releases her latest song: http://t.co/MSBZ8UpO via @youtube

Deborah Klayman battles London’s commuters with cello! And on that bombshell…..

Til next time

Ali & Debs

But I’m the only Smurfette in the village!

So, while Whoop ‘n’ Wail’s current project is coming on nicely, Ali & Debs took a little time out this week to write a short play – just 6 pages long – on the theme of ‘What is art?’ for the next 17percent She Writes showcase for short plays by women. A lot of fun was had coming up with ideas and characters for the story and by giving ourselves just the afternoon and evening to complete the play, we were somewhat stepping out of our comfort zone. We are pleased with the result. My Bloody Laundrette will be submitted for the showcase and we’ll let you know if we are selected!

http://17percent.wordpress.com/

We have been particularly enjoying the work of Anita Sarkeesian this week and indeed her blog The Feminist Frequency, inspired us for My Bloody Laundrette. Anita is a feminist pop culture media critic and her video blogs are both entertaining and fascinating. Check out her discussions on film, in particular The Smurfette Principle and The Bechdel Test for Women in Movies – a simple test to check how present women are in films and how well rounded their characters are – shocking and unsurprising in equal measure.

http://www.feministfrequency.com/category/movies/

We’d be interested in your thoughts.

Best to you all

Ali & Debs

One week to go until curtain up at South Hill Park

This time next week we will be preparing to go on stage at the studio at South Hill Park. Debs and Ali popped down there this week to say hello to everyone. It was Ali’s first visit and she was particularly impressed by the vibrant atmosphere and beautiful location. Debs met with many old friends as she has worked there before on The Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry V. They hooked up with eXclusion’s director Paul Taylor, fresh from performing in Cinderella and still covered in glitter! They also met with Adrian and Rebecca who have been working hard to promote the show to local schools and colleges – thank you guys – and were delighted to bump into Tom Neill, who directed both Ali and Debs in Under Milk Wood at Pentameters Theatre earlier this year.

Check out the piece in last weeks Bracknell News about SHP’s studio theatre and their up and coming productions, including of course, eXclusion.

http://www.bracknellnews.co.uk/theguide/goingout/articles/2011/11/24/55484-upcoming-productions-at-the-studio-theatre-at-south-hill-park/