July 3, 2008

The First Original Play by a Woman at the National Theatre

How is this possible? How can it be 2008 and that a woman has never had an original play produced at the National Theatre in London. Sadly, this is true, but the record will fall this summer when Rebecca Lenkiewicz's new play Her Naked Skin about the suffragettes will open on July 24th.

Here are some quotes from The Guardian piece on Rebecca:

And it seems appropriate, under the circumstances, that suffragettes should be striking a blow for freedom at the Olivier. Nicholas Hytner, the National's artistic director, admits the absence of female playwrights seems 'extraordinary' but points out that it would be easy to misrepresent the situation. 'The context is that there are not many original plays at the Olivier by writers of either sex,' he says. 'It is a theatre that requires a particular set of skills: a muscularity of rhetoric, theme and imagination that will reach a thousand people.'
Hytner said:
Of the 1,000-1,500 unsolicited plays he receives each year, 'only one out of five is by a woman'.
Women: write more!
'I wrote the play because I felt the suffragettes had been forgotten. They suffered so much. I admired their comradeship, strength and old-fashioned pluck. Girls with guns, girls with bombs - but never wanting to hurt anyone.'

None the less, she believes that women are still trapped today, though in a 'different way'. She was particularly shocked by the way the suffragettes were force-fed in jail. 'Anorexia is the modern parallel - women trapped by body image. It is all about wanting to control the body. Women's bodies, through the ages, have been so much more used and abused than men's.' And she says firmly: 'Feminism has regressed a lot recently. On the news and television... there is so much woman as object.'
Can't wait for this to come to NY! If you are looking for a great movie on the suffragettes now pick up Iron Jawed Angels. I love that movie.
Turning the tables (The Guardian)
photo: Richard Saker