Observations: Trilogy is the feminist Fringe hit that puts the treat into treatise
Friday 08 January 2010
Amid all the braying comedians and C-listers slumming it on last year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the show that really got people talking was a thoughtful piece of performance art by a young, Glasgow-based feminist. Nic Green's three-hour-long Trilogy, which arrives in London this month, is that unfashionable thing, a feminist treatise. On paper, it shouldn't have been a hit, but audiences loved it. Bloggers and reviewers hurled superlatives. The Poet Laureate came to see it, and brought her 14-year-old daughter with her.
Trilogy looks at the past, future and present of feminism. It engages with the energy of the first-wave 1970s movement, using footage of the 1971 debate filmed as Town Bloody Hall. However, it also asks simple questions about the state of contemporary female self image.
At one point, 50 naked women, all local volunteers, march on stage in a thrillingly life-affirming dance. It's not the nudity that shocks but the realisation that we just don't see female bodies like this, anywhere in the media. They've been airbrushed out of sight, and we don't question it. But this is what female bodies look like: they droop and point and age and bulge; they ripple with sinews and capability. And marching, stomping and punching the air in time to Pixies' "Broken Face", they're beautiful.
"There were women in the group [of volunteers] who said things like, 'I've never even been naked in front of my boyfriend'," says Sophie Younger, a mother of four sons between 15 and 21, and one of the oldest volunteers to take part. "It drew people who wanted to do it as a cathartic thing for themselves because they'd always had hang-ups about their body, as well as women who had been drawn in by the profundity of what Nic Green was trying to achieve."
If parts of the audience perhaps turned up because they'd heard the production contained extensive female nudity, they stayed because they were being charmed, entertained and challenged. The passion and charismatic conviction the performers bring to the piece really has to be experienced first-hand.
"I had no sense of vulnerability, or of being a woman dancing naked for an audience, but neither did I feel 'empowered'. I just felt an absolute joy to be dancing to the Pixies, on that stage," says Younger. "It only wavered if I met audience members during the interval: I'd think, well, I haven't seen you naked, so you've got a slight advantage there! However, I am very happy to think that Carol Ann Duffy has seen me naked. That thought has carried me through the year."
Trilogy at BAC, London, 13 to 16 January; Barbican, London, 22 & 23 January; Nuffield Theatre, Lancaster, 30 January (Nicgreen.org.uk)
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Al Pacino on suffering from depression: 'It can last and it's terrifying'
- 2 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 3 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
Jessica Chastain demands Scarlett Johansson-fronted Marvel superhero movie
Downton Abbey series 5 start date revealed: ITV drama to return in late September
Nicki Minaj suffers wardrobe malfunction during MTV VMAs performance with Ariana Grande and Jessie J
How to read Will Self: Unlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
New Netflix releases: Films and TV shows coming in September 2014
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain