“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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“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