|Isobel Thom as Joan|
"I, Joan" by Charlie Josephine
(Shakespeare's Globe, 2022)
Photo: Tristram Kenton
This is called clickbait. But you knew that.
One of the more egregious offenders recently posted an article with the headline, [Shakespeare’s Globe Artistic Director] Michelle Terry Fears for Actors' Safety in 'Woke' Plays.
This headline is misleading. It leads one to believe that Terry fears for actors' safety when working in the company of something called a "woke play." It conjures images of actors being harmed in the rehearsal or performance of such plays, whatever they may be.
However, nowhere in the article does Terry herself use the term "woke" nor does the article attempt to describe what that word means. Her concern is for the safety of artists who are members of productions that have been defined by others as "woke."
From the article: "Some of [the Globe’s] recent productions have been accused of being 'woke'."
Really? Some have said this. Who are they? And what did they mean when they used the term "woke"? It is important to be clear about this, because these people, those "some" who have said this, they are the people who Terry believes may threaten the safety of her company of performers, and not as the headline implies, their participation in such productions.
Headline would better read: Michelle Terry Fears for Actors' Safety From Those Who Define Certain Plays as 'Woke'
The writer of this article does provide two examples of so-called "wokeism" at the Globe. One is last fall's production of I, Joan by Charlie Josephine in which the main character, inspired by the person of Saint Joan, identifies as non-binary, and a production of Romeo and Juliet which included a content warning about suicide.
It is true that I, Joan received a great deal of online bullying prior to opening from people who were angry that Joan de Pucelle was to be presented as non-binary and using they/them pronouns. They accused the playwright of "erasing" a famous woman. As far as I can see, Joan of Arc’s place in history is unaffected by the production (Shakespeare depicted her as a demon, didn't stick) though the visibility of a trans non-binary character at the center of a professional production was by itself historic and important.
My brother, who actually saw the production, unlike any of those who decided they hated it before it had even opened or really knew anything about it, said I, Joan was, " Excellent, fun, ALIVE." It started raining the day he saw it, he says nobody left.
"The play is first and foremost about the trans experience. All the soliloquies were about identity and inclusion in very personal ways. The historical part was the body of the play but it kept coming back to Joan's experience out of time. They pondered why men are so hung up on pronouns, toilets and Twitter." - Henrik H. (my brother)
And providing a content warning for R&J? Who cares? In what possible way does taking the subject of suicide seriously, and alerting anyone unfamiliar to the conclusion of this classic play (yes, they exist and that's okay) disrupt anyone's enjoyment in watching it? And anyway, how is that "woke"?
When the article in question was posted a little over a week ago, there was a great deal of back and forth about what a shitty article it was, and I mean from a journalistic standpoint. Really stupidly written, sloppy and by extension, offensive. Written expressly to provoke, not to inform.
|Read it, it's good.|
"Woke people" are against a diversity of ideas and anything that questions their narcissism is deemed racist or ignorant. Actually, the majority of us don't identify as "woke" or even "anti-woke"
We [which is to say people like this commenter, in comparison] focus on the individual responsibility of a persons (sic) instead of breaking everyone into groups based on religion, ethnicity, and whatever subgroups come out of that. We aren't interested in having a victimization contest.
If you want a true diversity of ideas, it's best to be left of center. Reject ideology and become a complex vessel of ideas!
So many contradictions, it makes my head spin. He's true about one thing. The majority of us don't identify as "woke" because no one does that.
Further investigation (yes, I got creepy) revealed that this commenter is in fact a real-live, moderate, liberal Democrat, and not some bot or right-wing troll. It is because of him and people like him that my son is a complete Leftist.
It gets worse. Unlike some who have no particular interest but to thread-crash in order express their resentment and rage, this guy is an actual community theater director. Addressing me, specifically, he said this:
I happen to work in the performing arts as well. I can guarantee you [i.e. David Hansen] will have a harder time producing a play you've written in this climate. (Unless you live in an all-white area). Why should you give up your art to allow someone else to take your place? I think you should fight for what you've worked so hard to achieve and take a back seat to no one. Unless they prove that they have more skill.Welp, he said the quiet part out loud. Take my place? What place is that? The assumption here is that white men remain the most-produced of playwrights because of their superior skill, that they have earned their position of supremacy, and that recent trends of centering marginalized voices are robbing these white men of their rightful place.
Here are a few reviews for the Globe Theatre production of I, Joan:
"A rousing protest piece." - The Guardian"A joyous celebration." - Time Out London"Funny, fierce non-binary Joan of Arc proves sceptics wrong." - The Independent"Joyful and unifying, this could be something of a game-changer." - Evening Standard
Does this not prove their skill? I think it doth.
As I endeavor to get my own work produced, I am keenly aware that in a past era (maybe only five years ago) I would have had more opportunities for production. But not because my work was better.
Today’s emphasis on those whose voices have previously been ignored has inspired me to make my work more relevant, and hopefully to make me a better playwright. I want make work to be good enough and deserving enough to take my place with them.