We created our Quines Writes training programme earlier this year to tackle the gender imbalance in theatre journalism. The six week programme ran in partnership with The List, YWCA Scotland – The Young Women’s Movement and The Feminist Fringe. It gave a group of young womxn the opportunity to develop their skills in writing reviews and interviewing theatremakers for features. Many of them have continued writing so we wanted to share their work with you on our blog.
The Archive of Educated Hearts
Review by Carolyn Paterson
(Content warning: Cancer)
The one-woman show, written and performed by Casey Jay Andrews, is part of Shedinbugh Festival and has been described as a piece of “documentary theatre” by the playwright. Childhood memories, verbatim recordings and extracts from Have you an Educated Heart? by Gelett Burgess are used by Andrews to tell the stories of four women affected by breast cancer. The beautifully crafted production captures the preciousness of human life, the impact cancer has on maternal relationships and the legacies we leave behind to others. But what really caught my attention was Andrews herself. Throughout her performance, she punctuates the recordings with philosophical reflections on what tragedy is and its ability to “disrupt” the “narrative” of our lives. She is a passionate and authentic voice on the subject, and the love she has for the woman in her life is evident throughout.
Although props are minimal, they work well for a digital audience. Treasured family photographs are displayed while the women share their experiences and close-up camera shots of the images make the performance more intimate and moving.
The Archive of Educated Hearts is a lesson in compassion. Although incredibly emotional, Andrews’ work celebrates the strength of female relationships and human kindness.
Girls Like That
Review by Lucy Philip
Remember when the height of teenage embarrassment was your mum picking you up from the school disco? Oh, such simpler times. Now teenagers are walking on a minefield of online public scrutiny that could follow them into adulthood. Even if you are one of the lucky few to successfully navigate your way to popularity, no one is safe. Evan Placey’s punchy play Girls Like That performed by Synergy Theatre Project and Unicorn Theatre follows a tight knit group of girls, self-confessed “best friends forever”, that is until a nude photograph of Scarlett begins circulating at school, her childhood friends waste no time letting her know this girl squad does not tolerate “sluts”.
Rather than offering Scarlett support, the girls are quick to condemn her whilst basking in relief that it’s her and not them on the menu to be chewed up and spat out across the canteen tables. Girls Like That is feisty and truthful, it portrays the brutal reality young girls face in the age of technology and raises a crucial point that not all girls are nice and judging others is a trap easily fallen into, especially at an age where “fitting in” seems like the best idea. The world has thousands of Scarletts, I knew many of them at school, locking themselves in the girl’s toilets to escape the sniggering. It seems disheartening the only way to survive our online world is to either toughen up or never put a foot wrong. Placey reminds us compassion is key, we may have control over our bodies but we cannot control who’s screen they end up on.
Things We Chose To Save
Review by Ellen Leslie
Things We Chose To Save is an intriguing play created by the West Midlands-based theatre company Clown Funeral. It is set ten years into the future, when technology has advanced to allow us to store, edit and replay memories. Molly’s job is to edit and view these memories, and she filters through thousands a day. Her sister Billie, however, has little knowledge of the business, and sells a personal family memory to Molly’s boss Vic with no idea of the consequences. It’s up to Molly to persuade Vic to cancel the transaction, and repair her fractured relationship with Billie.
Humorous moments, mainly delivered by Arthur, Molly’s close friend and colleague, are dotted throughout the narrative. But while the script clearly explains how and why the memories are saved, some of the dialogue sounds slightly unnatural, particularly at the start of the play.
The staging is simple, which works well with the plot. When the memories are read out, the stage is plunged into darkness, with a single spotlight illuminating Molly as she watches on a screen. There’s no set, and blocks are rearranged by the characters to set the scenes. They rarely touch each other, making the few moments when they do even more powerful.
Unfortunately, the video quality isn’t the best and the audio is sometimes out of sync, which does let the production down. Nevertheless, the compelling concept was enough to keep me engaged, and I’m excited to see what the company comes up with next.