The Big Idea: Why Write a Feminist Play?Published on Fri 14 Mar 2014
Playwrights Abi Morgan (The Mistress Contract) and Nick Payne (Blurred Lines) joined Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone on stage last night (Thursday 13th March) to ask why write a feminist play, as part of The Big Idea – one of a series of events inspired by the breadth of ideas in The Mistress Contract, currently playing in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs.
Nick Payne talked about his keen interest in feminism and how this has extended to his work, teaming up with Carrie Cracknell to really explore this on stage at the National, while Abi Morgan said that the endeavour of writing The Mistress Contract and bringing a difficult feminist to the stage was in itself a feminist act, despite not setting out to write a ‘feminist play’.
Abi suggested that feminism should run through the spine of everything we do, with Nick agreeing ‘“Even if I write a play about cheese farming, I hope it’s the most feminist play about cheese farming I could write!” he said. Abi also talked about ageism running parallel to sexism within the industry, with a lack of good parts for older women.
Vicky Featherstone proposed the need to employ the Bechdel test for theatre (the standard by which feminist critics judge televion, film and other media) arguing that many playwrights fall into the trap of gender stereotyping without even realising.
Questions from the audience included can we find a way to talk directly to men and boys about how sexual appetites are being shaped by porn & media?, Why are we still finding it so difficult to challenge the assumption that a universal protagonist has to be a man and what does a feminist male character look like?
Abi Morgan summed it up ‘If you are a living, breathing human being, who wouldn’t want call themselves a feminist? Who wouldn’t want equality?
AlixPartners support The Big Idea at the Royal Court Theatre