Resistance Reconsidered: Feminist Theatre and the Challenges of Reception
Not surprisingly, the discussion started out strong and then branched back to the topic of women playwrights. I believe it is a result of Emily Sands study that has it in everyone’s minds, but I find it frustrating that we keep going back to the playwrights and leave no time for everyone else. Or, perhaps women playwrights are due for a good monopoly of discussion and I just felt left-out since I’m not one. Either way, that’s where it ended up. However, let’s start at the top.
First of all, the question was posed “How are we defining feminist theatre?” According to my notes, neither this question nor steps to answering it was visited for long. I found this somewhat disappointing because I run a theatre company that promotes the role of women in theatre, so does that make us a feminist theatre? Because we don’t exist to create one-woman shows about gender bias, or musicals about menopause. We exist to create dialogue and actively employ women so they can have career changing opportunities that will help them break through the glass proscenium. I’d like to know if people look at GAN-e-meed, think “feminist” and run away screaming.
The discussion continued to question whether specific marketing can devalue the content of feminist theatre and if feminist theatre is “unpalatable” to commercial audiences. Eventually, this led to the conclusion that it comes down to geography and local community: the context for audience reception. Which is the basis for building an audience in any theatre, not just feminists. Of course, no one said that. And then, of course, we came to the playwrights: It’s not about palatability, it’s about getting plays in the pipeline.
I have to admit, I think I tuned out a little as the session concluded because, as I noted earlier, a lot was said but very few Actions were proposed for making a difference. There was very little innovation in this session, although there were a lot of play titles being thrown about that I now need to go read. Huzzah.
Dramatic Lessons: Training Teachers in the Use of Theatre and Dance in the k-12 Classroom
To be honest, I looked at the first handout and almost left. But then it struck me that I could attend this session not as someone looking at publishing a book on pre-k theatre, but as a future professor who wants to teach this very topic. So I stayed. Learned some stats, played some games, and pretended to be part of the large intestine.
Hereâ€™s some stuff I learned and did:
- Goals for teaching pre-service teachers:
- Confidence in their own creative abilities,
- Help them become artists in the classroom,
- (Re)awaken their passion for teaching
- 93% of communication is non-verbal. What?! Really?! No wonder emails always get people into trouble.
- Even the most reticent teacher will welcome a way to make their work more complete.
- Know the curriculum for the school you’re in. Meet with teachers and find out what they need. Other arts teachers will be your biggest allies.
- Teachers are terrified of [theatre] and administrators don’t understand what we do and why it’s important. They need the opportunity to learn the process.
- Meet once a year and say “What do you need and what can we offer you?”
Risking Innovation Day Three: Talk-Backs and Vulnerability