THE TROUBLE WITH TODAY'S WOMEN is a piece of devised theatre performing at the ADC Theatre in June. We spoke to the Bread Theatre and Film committee about what audiences can expect from the show.
What kind of performances can an audience expect?
The performance is an irreverent and deeply personal commentary on what it is like for women – especially women of colour – to navigate entrenched systems and structures in society. In our play, what starts as a very familiar Cambridge institution, rapidly dissolves and transforms in unexpected ways, causing us to encounter something that's surreal, touching, and humorous. We would like to surprise the audience, and prompt reflection and questioning about what voices are centred in our institutions? Is there space for authenticity, irreverence, and care within these established structures that we often take for granted?
How are you working with performers to devise the show?
This is a new experiment for Bread Theatre and Film Company. At the heart of Bread is the telling of different stories and in new ways, we are always looking to push boundaries and experiment with different forms. With a devised performance, we are looking to centre the authentic voices of performers, so our narratives are heard, that might perhaps not otherwise be heard. So it isn't just the same stories and familiar voices that have been at the centre of the world for centuries, that are centred on stage as well.
In this experiment, we are fortunate to have collaborated with Shreya Tanisha of MZL Productions. Shreya led us in workshops which introduced us to the tools of devised theatre, culminating in a writing process in which actors and creatives had the chance to delve into our inner psyche and experience, and uncover our own voices. Some of the resources we used to inspire our creation of a script were the verbatim piece of theatre, The Trouble With Asian Men by Sudha Buchar, and Fifteen Heroines – a collection of contemporary short plays based on Ovid’s Heroides, that centres strong women telling their stories in their own voices. The piece we eventually created for the ADC stage is further abstracted as we explore the dream-like state between the conscious and subconscious and linger in a surrealist space to question why we are there and what it feels like to be there. That is The Trouble With Today’s Women.
How has your show been affected by the need for social distancing?
Due to the ongoing COVID19 pandemic, all the initial devising has taken place over Zoom, which is an immensely challenging process given that theatre is always best done in person, and devising even more so as it requires an enhanced creative atmosphere. But as we kick off in-person rehearsals, we have a newfound appreciation for being able to work together in person and enjoy each others company in the rehearsal process. It has been a brilliant process in which we have got to know each other and to hear each others' stories, and to find inspiration in our collective energy and creativity in bringing these stories to stage. We are really looking forward to finally being live on the ADC stage.
Without spoiling too much, what is your favourite part of the show?
The unexpected humour that is woven through moments of vulnerability and sometimes sadness. There are several moments of surreal surprise and playfulness. Look out for Hilary's axe! We are incredibly grateful to Hilary Westlake for her generosity in giving us countless hours of her wisdom and renowned directorial experience in guiding our production. Also look out for a punching bag, and mujra dances. The piece is a subtle yet powerful subversion and social commentary by women, and predominantly women of colour. We had an amazing and rewarding time creating this production, which we hope that audiences will love, too. Bread is deeply grateful to our generous supporters who have enabled us to bring this production to life, this is just the first of many.