Theatre-going friends, we all do it: when we have a spare theatre ticket or want a show-going companion we call the same people who we go to the theatre with every time. Drama school friends, former cast-mates, fellow FOH workers. If your friendship circle is like mine, you also have your “non-theatre” friends: from school or uni, from non-theatre jobs, or the pub. Rarely the twain shall meet (at weddings or birthday parties).
Recently, increasing concern is being voiced about representation in all industries and art-forms. There’s an intensifying awareness and debate happening across the world right now, which has lead to a surge of stage shows aiming to topple gender imbalance and improve representation in every aspect – but they won’t change anything in a bubble. If we really want to transform the world we live in and have a genuine impact on society, politics, and lives, we need to constantly link what we see on stage to ‘the real world’, and compare what we see there to the work of of our fellow-fictioneers in film, tv, novels, poetry, art and music. All art needs an audience that is both diverse and responsive, if it wants to survive, thrive and have impact.
So, Bechdel Theatre is asking you to take another look at your phonebook/facebook friends/twitter followers. Instead of automatically offering a spare ticket to your theatre friend, why not #BringAFeministFriend instead?
Responses from #BringAFeministFriend are often more insightful than mainstream critical reviews, especially if they’re sharing expert knowledge or lived experiences relating to what we’ve seen on stage. We’ve been doing it personally, and recently broadcast some responses for Bechdel Theatre Podcast, and it’s brought a new insight into the way we interpret theatre, and fresh vigour to how much we value it.
So, if you want to join in, all you have to do is: bring someone along, and then ask them what they think! We love to hear conversations between regular theatre-goers and total first-timers (Send them to us!) They don’t have to “know about theatre” to comment, because it’s exactly the point: absolutely everybody should feel empowered to respond to theatre in their own way, and hopefully feel inspired to come again soon.
This is not a solution that can fix every diversity and accessibility problem, but it’s an encouragement, a seed of a fun idea, it only costs the price you’ll pay for a ticket, and it’s something we can do as individuals without needing the permission or platform of any organisation to do make a positive difference.
You know who I mean…
- They laughed along with How To Be A Woman (but have never seen a Vagina Monologue).
- They watched every episode of Orange Is The New Black (but missed Uzo ‘Crazy Eyes’ Aduba in The Maids)
- Their favourite book as a kid was Matilda (but they’ve never got round to watching the hit musical).
- They tweet about #EverydaySexism (but didn’t watch women taking it to pieces in Blurred Lines)
- They went to see Kate Tempest in Brixton (but didn’t get to the Roundhouse to watch Hopelessly Devoted)
- They shared a blog about eating disorders (but didn’t notice LadyJunk’s devised exploration of our relationship with food at The Vaults, or Overshadowed’s dark but hopeful portrayal of recovery from anorexia at Theatre 503).
- They’re a member of a Trade Union (but didn’t see Made In Dagenham when it made it to the stage, or Tinned Goods national tour)
- They danced all night after Pride (and might have related to the identity journey of ‘RoosevElvis’ or ‘Rotterdam’ if they’d been on the right mailing lists to see them)
- They put coins in the bucket for a charity aiding rape victims in warzones (but missed Liberian Girl and Women and War festival).