Monday, October 15, 2012

Feminist Theatre Politics

Some of the writing earlier on this blog had a bit of a Feminist side, there was commentary on various things, reviews of various books etc. Mostly though it is about theatre and books and writing, which is mostly what I am about – so it makes sense. However happily sometimes these things collide.

One of the best pieces of theatre I have seen in the past week came from this woman who is the Australian Prime Minister.

And it is this speech. It’s fifteen minutes worth watching.  

Now say what you like about Ms. Gillard about her politics (which are not so great on Education; equal marriage and asylum seekers – Labor Left? Seriously? Labor has never sat so close to the centre right of populist politics, urgh) but this speech is gold.

It tells it straight out that what Tony Abbott is – he is a downright rude, slimy person who still cannot bear that not only did he lose a close election but he lost it to a woman that defies what he feels a woman should be. Watch as she demolishes his fa├žade and strips back all the slick politics and uses his own words against him. She hurls them back in his face. Flings the hurt and offence she has felt out at the world and forces it to listen.

The vitriol Ms. Gillard has endured since she was elected has been awful to witness; most of it is directed at her by middle aged conservative men and a lot of it is baseless and vindictive. This response takes it beyond politics with a capital P – it’s lowercase and transcends the parliament and the fallout of the debate that initiated the response.

I don’t see being a Feminist as a complex thing, basically if you believe in equality you believe in the foundation principles of the thing and that’s it. Nothing annoys me more than people equivocating that they sort of are Feminists or they don’t agree with the term. I mean yeah sure, some Feminists don’t shave their legs or wear bras, get over it! This isn’t an affront to being a woman, like humans, Feminism comes in all shapes and sizes. Me, I shave when I bloody well want to, I plan on getting married and having children and being a cranky old grandparent who wears flowers in her hat.

And not having a beard. 

This week I’ve heard people on BBC Radio 4 discussing the speech on two different programs and I have read American websites declaring Obama needs to “Gillard” Romney in the next debate and I have read much online opinion. This has got bigger than Canberra.

I think you should watch it for yourself, see her cut through the bullshit that surrounds politics so often and revel in the theatre that has gone beyond the parliament to a much wider audience.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Casablanca: The Gin Joint Cut Review - Pleasance Theatre Islington

Casablanca – The Gin Joint Cut celebrates the 70th Anniversary of the iconic movie by re-imagining it onto the stage in a delightful rendition of the classic film.

The key thing writer/director Morag Fullarton understands is that it is necessary for a show such as this to break the illusion to create the illusion. So we are introduced to the actors who are playing actors who are then playing the many characters from the movie on the stage. This theatrical-awareness is integral to the success of this production – it allows the scenes recreated from the movie to stand on their own, with integrity that would not be possible if they were merely rehashed impersonations. As it is, we are free to indulge in the recreations and enjoy the process of them being created. It is also liberating to not sit there comparing every intonation with what you remember from the movie – instead you are lead through a nicely designed and neatly choreographed rendition that is thoroughly enjoyable in its own right.

In echoes of The 39 Steps the cast of three play many characters. All are accomplished performers with Gavin Mitchell giving us a worthy Rick; Clare Waugh a sympathetic Ilsa to contrast with her Nazi Major; and Jimmy Chisholm, a Captain Renault who demonstrates impeccable comic timing. Incorporating the double casting as part of the show works really well and it ties in nicely with the construct of the play.

This production also highlights some of the contemporary issues that surrounded the shooting of the Casablanca the film in ‘DVD extras’ and this also plays nicely into the world of the play. Pacing-wise perhaps peppering them throughout might work better than blocking them all together when the audience is waiting and anticipating the appearance of the main characters. However they were a nice touch and fleshed out the context nicely.

The inventiveness of the staging of this show is clever and comical well suited to the space and venue. It is easy to imagine this script being performed in actual gin joints, theatre restaurants and other Fringe venues.

It is not completely necessary to have seen the film to enjoy this production but having done so might increase your savouring of the recreated iconic moments. As it is, you don’t get to see Bogart and Bergman, but the greatest strength of this play that you don’t miss them and that is a beautiful nod to a beautiful film.

Having transferred from the Edinburgh Fringe Casablanca – The Gin Joint Cut is a Gilded Balloon production playing at The Pleasance Theatre in Islington until the 21st October. You can book your tickets here.