By BICKY LEE
“Subversive and darkly comic, the New Zealand premiere of Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. sees Silo Theatre return to the venue where it all began 20 years ago – Basement Theatre. A daring cast and crew will tackle this provocative work from 15 February to 11 March, as part of Auckland Fringe, opening Silo’s 20th anniversary season with guns blazing.”
This is how Silo Theatre is introducing its latest masterpiece. Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. is both an event for the history of Silo Theatre as well as an event for the political climate of modern NZ – and one that should not be missed. Director Virginia Frankovich sums up this work by using the word “anarchy” when she gave me a few moments of her time to tell me about this spectacular piece of theatre. I also spoke with one of the cast of actors, Amanda Tito.
Both Frankovich and Tito spoke excitedly about this work. It is clear that the ideas within each scene are still being reinvented with every attempt, only adding to the work’s demanding sense of deliberate chaos. Frankovich explains, “This work is more than just putting on a pretty show, it’s actually investigating and talking about… political ideas.”
One scene that stands out both from the director’s point of view as well as for the performers, is the scene that is actually three separate scenes, all happening at once. Tito describes this as “everyone is talking and no one is listening.”
This scene, Galvanize, as they have titled it, is a metaphor for the energy around modern feminism: everyone has an opinion on how best to progress society and empower women, but no one is listening to the others’ needs.
According to Frankovich, Galvanize steps right into the very heart of this work: “It is there to shock people into action.”
The Laurel Thatcher Ulrich slogan and book title Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History featured heavily in the making of Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. The cast continue lengthy discussion as to what it means to be well-behaved and why there are certain expectations for women.
Frankovich asked herself “if this [quote] was turned on its head, if well-behaved men seldom make history, whether it would hold [up] the same…” These discussions lead to intensive improvisation, which makes each performance of this work have a new combination of ideas within this topic. The cast aim to show you the difficult process of communicating ideas in real time, highlighting the importance of one’s use of language.
Frankovich has used her interest in physical theatre and improvisation to direct this work. She hopes the confrontational chaos of each scene will “make the audience be not well-behaved…. I’m hoping that when people watch the show, they start to think differently about the language they use in their life and how potentially that shapes behaviour.”
The other main idea that the cast are hoping to communicate to Auckland Fringe audiences is that “feminism isn’t scary!” These are actor Amanda Tito’s words. Her role in this work is to play an actor playing an actor (“multiple versions of multiple different people”) and the fact that people find a work about feminist issues intimidating is a source of much frustration for her. She hopes this work will help people to see feminism differently and know that the movement of intersectional feminism in New Zealand “isn’t over.”
After speaking with these articulate women about such a poignant theatre work, I was left thinking about Tito’s comment, “everyone is talking and no one is listening…”. This made me consider all the ways in which women are themselves. There is no ‘right’ way to be empowered, to be yourself, or to grow as a human being. Yet, it is so easy to tell other people that they ‘should’ be more this or more that and it is so comfortable to feel like we have to fit into a certain mold to be successful. In a society filled with social media profiles, even authenticity has an aesthetic. Perhaps Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. is a reminder to listen to the chaos of everyone’s stories and not to discount them if they differ from your own.
The other thing I can take away from Silo Theatre’s latest work – and this is only after speaking to two creatives, I haven’t even seen the whole work – is that they “want to make the feminist movement accessible and move the idea of feminism forward as opposed to making a [work] about an already existing idea.”
These people don’t just want to put a pretty label on some art and say “GIRL POWER!!” because that has been done over and over for decades. These people want to keep the momentum going that the feminists and activists from throughout history have created and maintained. They want to make progress and be active in their political statements and enquiries.
I am inspired and motivated to put my money where my mouth is and actively create opportunity for women and not just listen to Beyonce’s Run The World (although I will still do this).
This Auckland Fringe, go and see Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. and ask yourself, are you afraid of feminism? Or are you afraid of not being well-behaved?
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