“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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sharon Maughan talks to the Huffington Post about Whoop ‘n’ Wail.

Acclaimed actress Sharon Maughan talks to Carrie Armstrong about her involvement in Whoop ‘n’ Wail Represents…Mayday.

Sharon Maughan, The Bechdel Test & The Glaring Gender Equality Gap in British Theatre by Carrie Armstrong

Two female characters. With actual names. Talking to each other about something other than a man.

Not exactly shooting for the moon. Is it?

Read the full article here.

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

OOs

  innovation   •   entertainment   •   social justice

Whoop ‘n’ Wail Represents…Desire (open submission brief)

What is Represents…?

With brand new plays from both male and female writers, Represents… is a showcase with a difference.

Whoop ‘n’ Wail have committed to achieving gender equality on the UK stage by creating a night of entertaining, engaging theatre with all plays having significant roles for women.

Consisting of six short plays, each piece of writing must pass the Bechdel Test – they must include at least two named female characters who, at some stage, talk to each other about something other than a man. Inspired by Alison Bechdel’s 1987 comic strip, The Rules, the Bechdel Test has become the benchmark for gauging fair representation on stage and screen.

 

The sold-out launch of Represents… in Nov 2014 featured work by both established and emerging playwrights and directors invited by the curators to kick off the inaugural event. For future nights, each will have an overarching theme, with pieces selected via an open submission process. Each submission will be read, six pieces selected, and successful writers paired with a director.

What we are looking for:

  • A 10 minute piece of new and original writing using the theme Desire as a stimulus.
  • Stage plays – either complete short plays or a self-contained extract from a larger work.
  • Plays written by individuals or writing teams.
  • Plays that pass the Bechdel Test:
  • There is no limit to the number of characters your play can have, however at least two must be female. We will accept gender-neutral characters, provided a female-female interaction can be achieved through casting.
  • The qualifying female characters must have names (not ‘wife’, ‘mum’, ‘woman’, etc.)
  • Two female characters must interact with each other directly about a subject other than men. This interaction should be significant and have a bearing on the plot.

NB: Plays do not need to be all-female to achieve this. It is entirely possible to pass the test and have male characters in the play and we welcome submissions that achieve this.

What we do not accept:

  • Scripts that do not pass the Bechdel Test.

Plays that do not pass the test will not be read, and Whoop ‘n’ Wail will not accept further submissions from the writer.

  • Scripts that have been previously produced

We will accept scripts that have had rehearsed readings, but not ones that have been staged. Represents… is a new writing night, so we want to showcase your original work.

  • Scripts that do not relate to the theme

Please do not send old work hoping it will fit the bill: we are looking for new plays written in response to the set theme or existing (unperformed) work that clearly relates to it.

  • Adaptations of another writer’s idea

We want to see your original work. The only exception to this if you have adapted your own work from another medium.

  • Multiple submissions at one time

We can only accept one script from each writer/writing team in a given submission window.

How to submit:

  • Submit scripts in Word Format only via email to submissions@whoopnwail.com by the deadline, 17:00 on Friday 2nd January 2015. Submissions sent after the deadline will not be read or considered.
  • Attach a character breakdown, including each character’s gender, and a three-line synopsis.

What we provide:

  • The performance space
  • A director
  • Your cast
  • The marketing for the showcase
  • Basic lighting
  • Basic set
  • Basic props

Important Information:

  • Successful writers will be paired with a director, and that director will have sole responsibility for casting the piece and arranging rehearsals. Writers may be invited to rehearsals, however this will be at the director’s discretion.
  • Suggested cuts or changes will be subject to the writer’s approval.
  • Writers will be entitled to a complimentary ticket for each performance for their own use only. These tickets cannot be transferred.
  • Due to venue restrictions, complimentary tickets for press and industry professionals are only available to the producers. No other complimentary tickets will be available to cast or creatives, however requests to allocate tickets can be submitted to the producers for use by legitimate industry professionals such as casting directors. Whoop ‘n’ Wail will consider all requests, however this does not guarantee approval. The producers’ decision is final.
  • No naked flames, smoking or fire will be permitted in the venue (this includes candles).
  • The final deadline for script submissions is 17:00 on Friday 2nd January 2015. Submissions sent after the deadline will not be read or considered.

Successful writers will be notified by 17:00 on the 10th January 2015. Regretfully, due to time constraints, Whoop ‘n’ Wail are only able to respond to successful applicants and are unable to provide any feedback on unsuccessful submissions. Whoop ‘n’ Wail will not respond to requests for such.

PLEASE NOTE

This is not a paid commission – everyone involved in the project (including the producers) contribute their time and talent for free. Whoop ‘n’ Wail will be applying for funding so this may change as the project develops and we will update you if there are any changes. All accounts for Represents… will be available to any member of the company at any time by request.

whoop n wail

“A bunch of women talking about whatever it is women talk about”

What do women talk about? Whatever it is, it has got to be different from what normal people talk about, right?

While Ali and Debs were preparing to launch Whoop ‘n’ Wail Represents… (more of which later) they were more than a little amused to read a quote from Jenifer Kessler’s book,  “Why film schools teach screenwriters not to pass the Bechdel test”. While a scriptwriting student at the University of California, Los Angeles, Kessler was told by professors that the audience “only wanted white, straight, male leads” and not, as she quoted a male industry professional as saying, “a bunch of women talking about whatever it is women talk about”.

So, what is it that women talk about? Well OK, we all know that women talk about all the same stuff that normal peop.. oh, er, sorry, I mean men talk about: daily routines, kids, what to have for dinner, the politics of the day, the latest health scare, how serious the threat of rising sea levels really is, the best and worst ways to go about tackling global terrorism, how gentle is the breeze that softly ripples the…… you get my drift! Of course I have to admit that over my adult life I have talked with some frequency to a wide variety of female family members, friends and colleagues about my period, whereas the only men I have spoken with on this subject are my husband and my doctor – and purely on a need-to-know basis you understand. And I’m quite sure that there are some things that men prefer to discuss in a male-only environment too. Oh, now I’m rather interested – what do men talk about in ladyless company? Girls, six packs and sport? Probably. And all the other stuff as well no doubt.

So now that we have established, once and for all, that men and women talk about the same stuff and occasionally about different stuff, can we please move on?

Whoop ‘n’ Wail promise you innovation and entertainment, don’t we? So… wait for it… we have a real treat for you in store for you, something rarely seen before, something so unheard of it will blow your mind, as we prepare to bring you the very best in… I said wait for it!…. This November, we present to you……..dum dum duhhhhh……male and female writers, directors and performers. IN ONE SHOW. Talking about whatever it is they all talk about!

There – I said it was a treat!

WnW RepresentsThe Launch

Waterloo East Theatre, Brad Street, London SE1 8TG

Mondays 17th & 24th November @ 19:30

For more details watch this space or visit our website: www.whoopnwail.com

We love deadlines!

Working to a tight deadline can often be a daunting task, but here at Whoop ‘n’ Wail HQ we welcome the challenge!

We are currently putting the finishing touching to our new short play, including finalising the title (we don’t think ‘Untitled’ is going to fit the bill…) and will be submitting it at the end of this week. Exciting times!

Meanwhile, our friends at 17 percent have published photos from the recent ‘She Writes’ Showcase, which included our short play My Bloody Laundrette.

As always, there is a lot going on so make sure you watch this space!

Ali & Debs