Talking Feminism

Our editor, Joshua Cialis, interviews the director of Freak, Ellie Ward, about The Herd’s upcoming run of Anna Jordan’s play in York and London.

Heart breaking as it is hilarious, Freak is the story of two women, Leah and Georgie. The action unfolds across their two bedrooms, which face opposite each other, with the audience positioned either side of the beds. This is a truly immersive piece, with Georgie and Leah telling their stories straight to the audience. Leah tells us of her plans to lose her virginity; Georgie of her dreams about King Kong, and her ex-boyfriend Jamie. This is feminist theatre, but Freak isn’t a show about how to be a good feminist. It is about two women deeply entrenched in the media-obsessed, misogynistic world of the 21st century. It is about sexuality, rape culture and female friendship. But mostly, it is about giving Leah and Georgie the space to tell their stories.

‘Freak is a bold examination of what it is to be a woman in Britain today’. Does Freak suggest what being a “woman” means or what it could mean?

Freak suggests that being a woman in Britain today is hard. Jordan’s characters; Leah, a young teenage girl, and Georgie, a 30 year old woman, represent just two lived experiences of girlhood and womanhood. What being a “woman” means is a hot topic at the minute, with the #metoo movement, and debates surrounding sexual harassment and sexual conduct between the sexes. However, Freak doesn’t focus on the abuse women suffer at the hands of men, but the abuse women suffer at the hands of themselves: that is, “internalized misogyny”. From Veeting for new boyfriends, to validation via male appraisal, both Leah and Georgie are symptoms of the patriarchal culture we live in. Freak pulls at the fabric of womanhood, unravelling it’s hypocrisies and limitations in hilarious, and sometimes painful, detail.

So what is a good feminist? Or is there such a thing?

I believe the only viable way to be a “good” feminist is to accept you are probably a bad one. Humans are not perfect, after growing up within patriarchal systems of power, rape culture, and a media obsessed with the perfect body, image, life, it’s gonna be pretty hard not to be a hyprocrite from time to time. And that’s fine. What’s dangerous is to put women on the “good” feminist pedestal, which the media like to do. It just means when they slip up we can knock them off and berate them, undermining all the hard and genuine work they have done. Bad feminism underpins Freak. Neither Leah or Georgie would identify as feminist, in fact, they represent what feminism seeks to blunten: obsession with the male gaze, self-hate, perfectionism in body and physical attractiveness. The perfect feminist is a myth that needs busting.

Do you think the definition of feminism is changing? The fight is no longer about the vote it’s about values?

Definitely. There is a huge difference between social change, and political change. Yeah, we’ve had the vote for 100 years, but social value systems that have been engrained in culture for 100s of thousands of years are going to take more time than that to overturn. Also, feminism, especially in the media spotlight, can be very white washed. We’ve got to take time to understand feminism on an intersectional level. I understand that whilst I am up against prejudice as a woman, I also carry with me a lot of white privilege. So yeah, its all about values. And not sitting on our arses thinking it’s all sorted – check your privilege!

I find the different readings of a play very interesting. In your direction of Jordan’s play did you stick fast to the script or was there a little wiggling?

For us, all our characterization was pulled straight from Jordan’s script. It was a bit of a bible, and one of the most beautiful pieces of contemporary play writing I have read. Of course, while the facts we pulled from the script have stuck fast, there is wriggle room in how we communicated the associated emotions. Rather than focus on blocking, we focused on mapping out the reasons the characters were saying what they were saying, what they wanted the audience to think. That’s the joy of Freak – the show feels different every night, as Marie and Caitlin [the two actors in this performance] try out new ways to communicate the intentions they understand so clearly!

Herd is a feminist theatre company…to promote discussion, share ideas and skills and provide opportunities for women and non-binary people’. Why do you think it is important to use the arts (specifically theatre) as a springboard for the discussions of feminism?

After our first run of Freak so many people came up to me, or messaged me, telling me the ways in which they related to Leah and Georgie, and how it made them think about their attitudes to sex, body image, and sexuality. Within Freak, Leah and Georgie do not realize fully how the things they are saying and doing are problematic. This is the audience’s job. Freak is a rare diamond as Leah and Georgie are telling their stories directly to the audience, forcing them to think about not just the fictional situations of the play, but similar events in their own lives. What would I do in that situation? What did I do in that situation? Theatre generates discussion without specifically asking for it: the dialogue which results is complex, personal, truthful. And it is necessary. By glancing at someone else’s life, you are able to hold a mirror to your own, and affect change.

Do you have a favourite line from the play?

This is tough! Possibly, “I smoke fags out of the window, try on every piece of clothing I own and see how many times I can cum during Homes Under the Hammer!”

Finally why should I come and see Freak?

Freak is hilarious, hearting breaking and vivid. You will literally be sat within Leah and Georgie’s bedrooms, listening to their stories. Freak kinda feels like you are being told fresh secrets at a sleepover, or chin wagging with your best friend, whose had kind of a rough week. More importantly, you will see part of your life in Georgie or Leah. Whether they remind you of yourself, your Mum, your daughter or sister. Freak has something for everyone, and is not one to miss.

Freak is showing at the City Screen Picture House, York on 25th-27th July as part of Great Yorkshire Fringe. And at Cecil Sharpe House, London between 19th-22nd August 2018 as part of the Camden Fringe. Make sure you order your tickets to support this emerging feminist theatre company.

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Send us your Work

Hello Reader,

Did you know that we are open for submissions of poetry, prose and art. If selected your work will be published in 003 of Foxtrot Uniform. We want to see your new poems, short stories, essays, collages, sketches, or anything else you might’ve done. Foxtrot Uniform is a free space to express yourself. Our magazine is your magazine.

We already have some amazing submissions but we think there’s more to see! If you would like to have your work published, email foxtrotuniformpoetry@gmail.com and attach up to 5 pieces in a word document, along with your name and address. Every person that is published will receive a free copy of the magazine and their work will be immortalised in print alongside some other great creatives.

So what do we like to see?

Foxtrot Uniform is a free space for creatives to share their work. We like to see the unseen, the form bending, the formless, the political, the surreal, the beautiful, and the ugly; if your work is different and new we will probably like it…

So what are you waiting for, email us some poetry, prose, or art…

 

Do Our Modern Lives Affect our Creativity?

Words by Holly Royle

In a world of continuous social media notifications, busy deadlines and stress, has our ability to be creative been affected?

We have the world at our fingertips thanks to the development in mobile phones. We are able to contact other people instantly regardless of the locations and circumstances that may separate the speaker and the recipient. Not only this, we are continuously bombarded with emails and notifications from retailers, eateries, businesses, spammers – all trying to grab our attention and causing significant distractions.

Completing any task whether it be work, studies or a hobby, can take five times longer when your phone ‘dings’ every thirty seconds. So, how does one obtain time, with no interruptions, to indulge in their creativity? One, rather simple, answer is turn off said phone. However, that is not always possible or desired. And even then, there are other devices in the vicinity that like to go ‘ding’ too. Ultimately, it depends on the individual. Often you can become so involved and so excited with your creativity that all distractions fade into the background as you have a solid focus. Other times, if the task feels like more of a chore than of enjoyment, distraction is somewhat inevitable.

As annoying as a phone may be, the ability to access the world has some benefits to creativity. There are countless YouTube video tutorials on pretty much every form of creativity going. Be it literature, sewing, music, singing, dancing, painting you can teach yourself pretty much anything. Stuck for inspiration? Writer’s block? Well there’s another million and one videos for that too. And look at all the artists on Instagram, musicians on YouTube etc. There is inspiration everywhere. That’s great right? Well sort of. One question that occurs is, if it is so easy to obtain inspiration through the screen of our phones, do we obtain the same inspiration as when we go about our daily lives? Or, do we miss things because it is so much easier to search online? Once again, I think this depends very heavily on the individual and where their interests lie.

Technology isn’t going anywhere, whether it helps or not is debatable. Either way, the fast-paced world we live in has changed our accessibility to creativity, broadened the boundaries of creative influences and formed platforms on which to showcase our own creativity.

Molly’s Lips – A Review

Words by Joshua Cialis. Picture by Molly’s Lips

Back in April I was contacted by Phil, from Molly’s Lips, asking if I could have a listen to his new EP. It did not disappoint so here is what I think of Molly’s Lips II:

The atmospheric blend of acoustic and electronic sounds on Molly’s Lips’ new EP manage somehow to take the listener to somewhere between late night musings and mid-summer evenings in the garden. Molly’s Lips’ first release was recorded in their kitchen and printed up totally by hand. They’ve really stepped it up for this release; drafting in Joel Magill (of Syd Arthur) to record it and getting brilliant musicians such as James Gow (Knee High, Lunch Money) and Raven Bush (Syd Arthur, Kate Tempest, The Gaslamp Killer) to play on the EP. The eclectic mix of collaborators shines through on this release making it an EP to go listen to.

Molly’s Lips is made up of some of my favourite musicians: Billy Glinn and Phil Self of Cocos Lovers, The Hellfire Orchestra and, Will Varley. Knowing each of their past works I was expecting a gutsy folk-rock album. What I heard coming through my speakers was a surprise; the thought provoking harmonies and poetic lyricism of this album are emotional and full of feeling. Mixed with the atmospheric addition of reed organs, synths and live electronics the listener can expect to get hit hard by the emotional punch of these songs.

Although the instrumentation of this experimental folk album is sublime, it is the lyrics that really hit the mark. Some of the best lines come from ‘Hornet Man’ – in my eyes the best song on this EP. ‘I’m confident not drinking tonight / there’s a drink in the hand of every poet by my side’. This couplet perfectly sums up a scene, with that superb half-rhyme summing up the feeling. The whole EP goes on with its emotional journey through pastoral scenes and contemporary sounds making this an album to lay back and listen to.

 

The EP is released on 16th June 2018 and can be bought online at https://mollyslips.bandcamp.com/album/mollys-lips-ii

You Can Grow Alone Too, Y’know?

We’re in a world where everybody’s connecting with everybody, and this has untold benefits for the future don’t get me wrong. But, if we’re just talking, we’re not (for the most part) listening, watching, reading, observing etc etc..

When we talk we grow: our language can expand, unexpected moments occur, being social is almost as important as the next meal. Yet, it doesn’t hurt to switch off once in a while. Grab a book, watch a movie, scribble, doodle, paint, turn on the radio, find new running paths, listen to a podcast at the same time, cook a new meal, it’s a list in abundance. Getting acquainted with culture in our own time not only develops us but when we get back to talking to our friends, family, strangers in a bar, they develop too, and will probably teach you a thing or two at the same time.

Nowadays it seems increasingly insulting to be introverted, to want have time to yourself. We’re all expected to connect, to know this guy or that girl, to have an x + 1 amount of followers, it’s a never ending quest to pull all the strings together. But sometimes it is necessary to be ‘selfish’ for yourself, not to care what others are doing, and get on with whatever it is that makes you tick.

 

A reminder once again that out magazine is on sale now, we’ve just made a second batch ready to be shipped out to yours truly. Who knows, maybe buying our magazine is the perfect opportunity to grab some alone time!

           

Repeal the 8th – A poem for Ireland

Words by Joshua Cialis, Picture by Olivia Harris

Today see’s a referendum in Ireland giving women the choice to choose what they do with their bodies. We stand with this act of democracy and choice.
This is a poem written this morning, by Joshua Cialis, after reading the tweets of people travelling home to vote. The poem demonstrates the hope that this vote presents. Solidarity with all of you!

Repeal the 8th – by Joshua Cialis

four boys carry the statue of their Mother Mary
from the shore line to the chapel
over sand and shingle
she was one of them once
one of their depleted flock
but now outcast into the sea
between England and Ireland
her shining Halo washed out

four boys carry their Mother Mary
from the shore line to the chapel
over sand and shingle
she was one of them once
one of their depleted flock
but now in her beauty and shining halo
she has a choice and a life
away from foreign shores