How can men contribute to feminist theatre?

Convener(s): Paul Whitlock 

Participants: Paul Whitlock, Zoe Cobb, Liza Stubbs, Robert Cook, Helen Pringle, Naomi O’Kelly, Laura Eades, Alan Ball, Josh Neicho, Rachel McGill, Neil Keating, Dan G., Stuart T., S. Simpson (unfortunately some names were not very legible), a few others who “bumblebeed” in and out.

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

It is important for men to participate, but not dominate.

Nic Green’s “Trilogy” (recently performed at Battersea Arts Centre and the Barbican) was considered to be a particularly inspiring and ground-breaking piece of feminist dance-theatre.

On the other hand, the show “Calendar Girls” is not exactly challenging stereotypes of women’s bodies by casting an actress who has posed for lads’ magazines.

There is a basic image problem with feminism – the “F-word”.  Does labelling or marketing a work as implicitly or explicitly “feminist” automatically limit the audience and alienate people? Or is it OK to nail your political colours to the mast?

Does feminist theatre have a particular process?

A lot of prominent women in theatre do not consider themselves feminists – is this a sign of their success?

Women are sometimes also guilty of making sexual generalisations and assumptions about their male colleagues in the arts.

One man said that on some occasions he feels able to challenge other men’s sexism when they express it and sometimes he does not.  He wishes that he could do so every time.

Gay men may have different attitudes to women from traditional masculine viewpoints.

Feminism is often seen as a polarising force: women versus men.  It should be about sharing values and enabling men and women to engage with each other to make a difference. However, it was acknowledged that some vulnerable women might need the security and support of an all-female group for a time before they felt strong enough to face the wider world.

How many men would actually identify themselves as feminists?

Could there be an all-male feminist theatre company? 

Comment - The gender definitions applied here don’t describe my/their experience.