It is electrifying to have the opportunity to explore the concept of Heroines with Julia and Morna. I’m troubled by the lack of range in remarkable female characters and voices in the mainstream spectrum; with any female character that breaks from the perceived norm seemingly an unpopular challenge for both audience members and performer alike. Given the vast array of entertainment, art and content finding its way into the ever-evolving public consciousness, why are women, their journeys and their characters still largely categorised using pantomimic architypes? The popular blogger ProResting collates some of the farcical female character descriptions she comes across in her career as an actor – from laughably sexist to worryingly misogynistic – on her site: CastingCallWoe .
Clearly, the significance of a woman’s life can’t be measured by her sex appeal or age, yet there still seems to be far less of a variety in representations of the female experience than there are of the white heterosexual male experience. As an actor and as an audience member I’m bored of watching broadly drawn maidens, mothers and crones and far more excited by multi-faceted complex female characters whose value to a storyline is not determined by her relation to the male characters. I’m more interested in (and – lucky me – far more likely to be cast as) the Ugly Sister than Cinderella. It was partly this issue of the scarcity of adequate female roles that drew me to writing. I felt if there were not enough realistic and fascinating parts for women being written then I should at least try to write some myself rather than simply bemoan the fact. And that’s why I’m really excited by the Heroines project, working with two brilliant and inspiring women; tackling the issue head on with humour, insight and creativity.
Although we may have come a long way since having to fight for the right to vote in the UK, there is still a lot to shout about: pay gaps, discrepancies in visibility and the policing of the female body being just some examples. Misogyny is very much alive and well and living on the internet with nearly 50% of women experiencing abuse online according to one survey. Through the Heroines project we are using the tools we have to hand: calling upon our own experiences, research and creative instincts to make our voices heard.
Spending time together in the hugely stimulating surroundings of the Glasgow Women’s Library Julia, Morna and I were able to revisit ideas from our initial development and cultivate a framework for progressing with the project. We are thrilled to be moving forward with the project and I for one can’t wait to get back in the room with Heroines!