The fifth meeting of the GAP Salon took place on Monday, 3 February at 7PM. An online discussion forum and details of future meetings can be found at the GAP Salon Facebook group. Please join the group to see conversations and event details.
To begin the meeting, we introduced ourselves and shared some thoughts using a prompt borrowed from the YEAH I Said Feminist theatre salon in San Francisco.
VIVA: Venting, Ideas, Victories, Action.
The group brought up these themes in our opening introductions:
- rehearsal gender dynamics
- our responsibilities as women to include men in feminist initiatives? to model the diversity and cooperation we’d like to see?
- what does it mean to embrace feminism within the broader scope of Gender and Performance?
- ‘anger is amazing if you do something with it.’
- charity: Great Men Value Women
- BAM conference ‘Being A Man’ at Southbank Centre last week, first annual. Created by Jude Kelly, who also started the WOW festival ‘Women of the World’
- Actively looking for women’s stories. Bored of ‘mediocre, white, male, middle-class misogynist theatre’
- Academic, practical, and artistic interest in feminism.
- Building a network across disciplines
- Themes in our work: women and madness, religion, patriarchy, colonialism.
- Why are we still having this conversation?
- Venting: Why are female actors still encouraged to ‘get the girls out’ to get roles, which are often artistically limited?
- Relationships and trust – getting the gatekeepers to trust women to do excellent work/ believe that women are not inherently a financial risk.
- Women often have shorter CVs, fuels the cycle of less opportunity. Development of talent.
- Ethic and artistic effect of corporate sponsorship? of wealthy/conservative individual donors?
- Theatre Bay Area conducted a study about other ways to measure the effect of the arts, rather than defending our work in terms of how many audience members go out to dinner and support local restaurants. The Intrinsic Impact study resulted in this excellent book, Counting New Beans: Intrinsic Impact and the Value of Art
After the introductions, our talk centred on an idea I’ll call ‘JUST HIT SEND.’
An artistic director shared that 90% of the script submissions she receives are from men, drawing a connection between ‘sitting on our work’ and not having the most well-developed script possible when it gets to production.
One producer: ‘the plays women send me are about ‘issues’ or they’re just fluff’ Are women afraid to write about the things that matter? Self-censorship? The loneliness of sticking your neck out and having a view on something. ‘Chick-lit theatre’ and plays about internet dating. Making the personal political and vice versa. People saying ‘that’s very brave’ to women writing dark plays.
Authenticity around issues of motherhood onstage? Can non-parents write ‘believeably’ about being a parent? Can anybody ever write about things they haven’t directly experienced? (of course they can)
Without telling women what to write about, how can we encourage plays by women on more universal themes? How can we offer valuable critique?
Possible GAP initiative: Just Hit Send day/party, supporting women writers as they send their plays out to theatres. Helping each other, sharing work and ideas, exploring issues of gender on and off stage. pitch practice and communicating our ideas. Mentoring.
RichMix event April 19, pairing women writers with women directors to foster new collaborations. Ideas about the best model for designing collaborative opportunities?
Spring GAP event: Skill share – ideas for event format? D&D style? GAP to make a survey of who is interested in coming, what they can offer, what they want to learn. (provide lists/suggestions of skills to tick on survey – we often underestimate our skills, or take them for granted.)
- SPARK (Dissolve Theatre) in the Vault Festival, February 4-8
- Waiting for Summer Arab Women in Revolution (Swivel Theatre) at the Camden Etcetera Theatre February 4-7
- GAP Salon/FemaleArts/So and So Arts Club WOW Party at Southbank Centre 5th March
- Simple Procedures play reading at the Camden Etcetera Theatre 7th March in their Women’s Week.
- 100 Great Plays For Women showcase at the Camden Etcetera Theatre 8th March in their Women’s Week.
- The Mistress Contract at the Royal Court Theatre, with pre-show talk on March 13 ‘Why Write a Feminist Play?’
We will not have a regular GAP Salon meeting in March, since we’ll be all over town at International Women’s Day events, including our own WOW Party at the Southbank Centre March 5th. Keep an eye on the GAP Salon Facebook group for details.