How, when and why did the company take the decision to make this show?
Isabelle: Well… the main theme and also the title emerged out of conversations I’d had whilst away travelling. On the topic of women in particular, regarding the Delhi rape case in October 2012, a woman that I was in discussion with had said ‘well, she was asking for it’ because of the way she was dressed. I was completely appalled that a woman would say that about another woman and, leading on from this, Hannah and I sat down and had a serious rant about, basically, feminism, what it’s done and what the hell it means anymore. Then we decided to make a show.
Hannah: Yeah, I had also been interested in the changing face of sexism for a while before we started having conversations, and Izzie’s experience really triggered ideas for the potential of a performance.
What does the story mean to you?
Isabelle: The show doesn’t really have a story in the traditional sense but I think we’ve chosen to look at these themes out of some desire for things to be different, or clearer when it comes to current dialogues on women, sex and the real meaning of empowerment. We’re interested in how and why people make choices to express their sexuality in different ways and the implications of these choices in a broader cultural context.
Hannah: To me, the work aims to offer a variety of personal perspectives on the ‘grey areas’ within our themes.
We all have such information overload today and when a debate is ‘trending’ as this one has really begun to, then it’s hard to say something ‘new’. However, in its broadest sense, I think we’re interesting in working out what needs to change, if anything, and asking ourselves and others what we actually want; trying to include in our exploration wider social issues of freedom, expression and our judgement of ourselves and others within a cultural sphere that is in a state of constant, rapid flux and where everyone increasingly has a ‘voice’.
How have you approached the rehearsal process?
Isabelle: By, as usual, investigating ourselves and what our own views, behavioural patterns and fantasies are, deep down. By cutting the crap and trying to be honest with ourselves and each other because we know that nothing clear can emerge without that first. By listening to all the conversations we’ve had with all the people who’ve taken our workshops and that we’ve had with each other and our friends. Then, we improvise, repeatedly, endlessly, until we’ve hit the nail.
Hannah: We held about 5 workshops and public discussions with different groups in Bristol where we used a mixture of techniques including some Forum Practices to get people talking about these issues. We recorded everything for audio – and then set about trying out movement and scenario-based ideas on the discussions we were having, trying to turn things on their head, trying to take things out of context to illuminate them further. And then yeah, as Izz says – lots of improv, lots of recording ourselves, lots of talking and some heavy sound editing… Trying to stay open to new things, trying not to ‘finish’ sections, and trying to think well beyond Ferment in terms of the life of this piece.
What part of the show has been the biggest challenge?
Isabelle: So far… all of it! The topic is massive, we’re trying to do millions of things at once and we might have to get naked on stage…
Hannah: Trying to stay diplomatic and yet trying to say something honest. For me, fighting the idea that if I get angry or show a passionate attack through this work then it will be branded ‘a feminist rant made by women for women saying some same old crap’…and then getting angry at that label too.
Because we are dealing with other’s opinions as well as our own, and the issues around this piece (the title especially) are very real and immediate for some people, then at times I feel a kind of responsibility to do it with quite serious dexterity – even though it’s RnD at this stage, and even though that can potentially harm a process.
Why should people come and see the show?
Izz: Because this conversation is important and you should be in it. Plus, we’re going to try to make this funny… come watch us, it might be a bit like bear baiting, chicken fighting or just a straight up car crash. It’s up to you to decide.
Hannah: Ha, yeah it might be… Well, this is kind of a part 1 to this piece – and it’s been heavily influenced by public opinion so far, so come and have your say afterwards and contribute to it’s development.
Plus, as Izz said, this is a social and cultural conversation that involves everyone and effects everyone regardless of age or gender. So…let’s all shout at once!
Asking For It
Bristol Old Vic Studio
Fri 18 Jul, 8.15pm