Tag Archives: gender equality

Theatre Upstairs: Test Dummy

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After the morning with #WakingTheFeminists’s one year recap in the Abbey Theatre came an evening with the feminists just around the corner from Ireland’s National. During the Monday meeting some absolutely shocking statistics were presented on the gender imbalance in the top ten (all government sponsored) theatres and theatre companies around Ireland during the last ten years. But some hope was indeed restored for me on Tuesday night when I sat down to watch Test Dummy, an original Irish play written by a woman, performed by a woman, directed and even produced by a woman.

Theatre Upstairs in association with WeGetHighOnThis Collective presents Caitriona Daly’s new play – Test Dummy, a beautiful but ever so heartbreaking example of modern worldwide female image created by decades and generations of hardcore patriarchy.

Test Dummy might be a very abstract piece in general but it’s in the detail where you find its uniqueness and meaningfulness. In addition to the captivating script, Caitriona Ennis masterfully creates her nameless character of multiple faces and experiences; and it’s in one of those socially disfigured faces that the members of the audience will be able to sadly recognise themselves: be they the victim or the predator.

Test Dummy also managed to challenge the physical space that Theatre Upstairs is. In order to be able to experience the play more profoundly, the audience is being seated on two sides (facing each other), while the stage lies right in between them. The Dummy appears to be trapped in between watching and judging her people.

According to Caitriona Daly’s Author’s Note, she wanted this piece to be “not necessarily understood but felt”. Thanks to the exquisite combination of absolutely haunting sound (by Carl Kennedy ), skillful set (by Laura Honan) and igniting lighting (by Conor Byrne and Shane Gill) designs in addition to Ennis’ breathtaking portrayal of the Dummy, Caitriona Daly’s intention was achieved quite nicely. Louise Lowe’s spot-on directing allows this piece to be both brutally honest and tense, as well as funny and humorous.

This roughly fifty minute piece flies by in an instant. Caitriona Ennis’ human Dummy with strong voice and bright eyes “is happy to oblige” and the audience is happily left satisfied with the piece that they’ve just… no, not seen but rather experienced. So, don’t be a Dummy yourself and get your lovely (male or female regardless) bum to Theatre Upstairs to witness what comes out when three talented theatre makers and a 50/50 gender balanced crew come together to create art. For more info or to book tickets: http://www.theatreupstairs.ie/what-is-on

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#WakingTheFeminists

Just back from #WakingTheFeminists meeting at The Abbey.

I’m trying to think of words that could describe the emotion and the energy charge that was created in The Abbey’s Auditorium this afternoon… and there are simply no words big or explicit enough.

My passion for theatre started in The Abbey more than five years ago. If it wasn’t for that theatre, I wouldn’t be where I am now. And even though, I do not have an Irish passport I consider it my National Theatre. In the last three years I barely missed a play in The Abbey. For the last two and a half years I was also a member of the Abbey. I was there when Waking The Nation programme was announced.

I’m not going to lie, I liked the programme. And to my shame, it has never even occurred to me to count how many plays were written/directed by women. I’m very glad that Lian Bell did it for me and for all of us. And I’m also very glad and thankful that she brought attention to the problem. It was a very brave and courageous move. It was also a push that we all needed.

Lian might have been the first to vocalise the truth. But she is not alone. Not anymore. There are hundreds and thousands of both women and men out there waiting, yearning for gender equality. And today’s meeting was just another proof of it! The Abbey’s main space has slightly under 500 seats… for all I know, the event was sold out in less than half an hour after the tickets became available, and today there were more than a hundred on the wait list queueing outside hoping to get in. On a Thursday afternoon, all those people from all around the country and abroad came to The Abbey to support the gender equality. They didn’t come to see a show; they didn’t come to a catch a freebie; they came to show their support and respect for their fellow theatre artists. They came because it mattered. It mattered to show that regardless of your gender, profession or nationality you recognise the huge gender imbalance and flow in the system that supports and encourages the imbalance. It mattered because, just like some six month earlier, our future (and that of our children) depended on here and now. 2016 is a very important year in the Irish history. Let’s not forget that the history was written by both men and women. So why a hundred years after we shall forget about it?

As I said at the beginning, I have no words to express my feelings right now. I’ve been in a super hyper active cycle ever since I found out I got a ticket for the meeting today. I still can’t believe that it happened. I want to thank all the amazing actors, directors, playwrights and theatre makers who spoke on and off The Abbey stage today. Each one of the speeches was incredibly powerful and important to hear. I strongly believe that everyone is entitled to have an opinion and to express that opinion. Even though the problem of gender inequality has existed in the Irish society for a good while now, it’s great that women finally started speaking out (and look at all the brave and beautiful voices they have!). Every single word spoken in The Abbey today has indeed travelled. And not only in space, but also in time. For, hopefully, years and generations after today will be seen as a day that did make a difference. I strongly believe in the importance of vocalisation of your thoughts and opinions. If it’s not said out loud, it can’t exist. And women were kept in silence for way too long.

As a theatre lover, maker, goer, critic… myself, I strongly believe in female voices and stories. That’s a side of life we all want and need to hear (for once!). People say, it’s 2015, it’s time… I say, it’s been time for the last 2015 years and beyond. Our society has shackled and put limitation on us, women; with years those invisible chains grew only bigger and heavier. But a woman isn’t a small and helpless creature… A woman, any woman, is a true warrior. And it’s time to shake off those chains to finally free out voices.

The Abbey wants to wake the nation. Well, we are wide awake and ready and there’s not a single thing that will stop us now.

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