It has taken me awhile to formulate these thoughts, but recent events (both theatrical and otherwise) have re-invigorated these musings in my head. Toward the end of last year's theatre season, I saw two pieces of theatre which, on some terms, were expressions of the experience of being female. They took completely different forms both stylistically and formally, but at their base, they were about female experiences in society, specifically modern, Western, middle-class society.
Now far be it from me to tell someone how to share their experiences. I fully believe that a creator must create what moves them, and what they need to express, in hopes of engaging with an audience. And in the case of both of these productions, critical and audience responses were overwhelmingly positive. And yet for me, both left me feeling a bit . . . absent. I didn't feel engaged, or moved, or challenged. So little so that despite my personal mantra of documenting every performance I see, I didn't bother. I didn't even start. My busy summer continued, and i was working on a show, so had every reason to disengage from my reflective over-thoughtful tendencies, but now as autumn has overwhelmed us and my projects have dried up, I am once again thinking about these experiences. Why did I feel so disengaged by them when so many others championed them?
The more I think about it, the more I realize that I think it is the formal expression of these experiences in a theatrical form that although it pretends to new and modern approaches, in the end results in a traditionally structured, beginning/middle/end, linear story, in which the experiences are shown in a defined manner. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that I wasn't feeling empty or absent, but actually frustrated. Frustrated that although female creators were given the opportunity to produce work that speaks to the female experience, the form of this work fit the "mould", if you will, of the same work that is produced in this country day in and day out. The kind of work that although mildly interesting, doesn't challenge our ideas or our comfort. How frustrating to see that this seems to be the kind of work a woman needs to make to get produced at even a moderately sized stage in Canada.
There are a number of AD spots opening up in this country at the moment, for probably the first time in the better part of my adult life. This is extremely exciting as it means there is the chance for us to finally do something different. I sincerely hope that we can manage to diversify the voices, not just at face value, but in the actual form and content of the work that is created, nurtured, and produced. So that 10 years from now, we can celebrate the invaluable role art plays in this country rather than lament the continued slow and agonizing death of the art form we all need.