The actress is about to perform as part of Female Parts: Shorts at the Hoxton Hall (13 to 31 March). She spoke to Love London Love Culture about the importance of female voices in the theatre… 13th to the 31st March.
Hi Gehane, thank you so much for talking to LLLC. Could you tell me a little bit more about Female Parts: Shorts?
No problem… “It’s good to talk” as the old Bob Hoskins adverts used to say… It’s about female voices, female stories, female struggles and triumphs, female narratives written by dynamic and challenging women championing our place in the world, and the obstacles within it. It deliberately goes against the grain of prejudice and preconceptions of an adulteress, immigrant and terrorist.
Could you tell me about your character and her story?
Unearthing the underlying themes with artistic director Karena Johnson has been fascinating, especially as the piece was originally written in the 1970s and it’s shockingly surprising how the modern 21st century woman still faces similar challenges. This is a story of the physical and emotional demands made on a run of the mill woman. The play is littered with the expectations and assumptions of personal and peripheral males within her world: a sexually ungenerous husband, a distastefully gratifying brother-in-law, an opportunistic peeping Tom, an uncouth dirty prank caller, a relentless loan shark, an overbearing idealistic lover and a young needy son… all of which take their toll on her time, attention, care and most importantly objectify her physical body. She is just a “woman” with no unique identity or appreciation of self – yet she displays such courage and determination.
What attracted you most about taking part in Female Parts: Shorts?
That all the cast, technical crew and creative team are all women. I should stress that it’s not the lack of males involved in the project that made it appealing but rather the very vital and pertinent presence of under-represented females that drew me to it…
Given the fact female voices are beginning to be heard more often now – how do you think that theatres could support female voices and stories more?
In a stereotypically “man’s world” I think that we should be reminded that there are plenty of equally qualified female production managers, stage technicians, directors, producers, lighting designers, marketers, set designers, stage managers, prop makers, electricians, playwrights, casting directors, wardrobe designers, sound engineers and dressers that make up any company in a production. The fact that they have a vagina has no bearing on how well they execute their job or role. Fact.
What do you think that audiences can take away from your character’s story? That under the surface, beyond any physical female “form”, there is a beating heart, mercurial mind and indomitable spirit that gives essential life and breath to any creative endeavour. If you want to distil the female essential self we are the ones that create and give birth. Without that duality, man alone is nothing.
What should be the main incentive for potential audiences to come along and see Female Parts: Shorts?Expect the unexpected. It champions the woman who can “quietly get things done whilst those who undermined her were looking the other way” as Winsome Pinnock put it – whether that’s the cooking, cleaning, ironing, feeding, educating, nurturing, mothering, breadwinning or conquering space. In the UK we’re actually way behind our European counterparts and with Brexit looming we need to seriously think about smashing through these self-imposed glass ceilings. Come on UK – let’s get with the programme already…