A Raisin in the Sun: Eclipse Theatre Company

A Raisin in the Sun, written by Lorrain Hansberry was the first Broadway show produced by a black woman. It explores the dreams of a group of middle class African Americans, who wish to break free from their much too ‘cosy’ confines of their flat in Southside Chicago. Eclipse theatre company are true to Hansberry’s vision, and they bring alive ink on paper in a realistic and engaging manner.

The story follows one middle class family on the brink of poverty, each individual hoping to achieve their own dream. These dreams are potentially made possible through the arrival of a cheque worth $10,000, the family are both excited and anxious to see what the future will bring them. The ultimate dream however is the dream of equality, of being able to live in the surrounding American community, without being ostracised. Mostly the family has universal goals which may be applied  to any family the world over, dreams of betterment and contentment.

A RAISIN IN THE SUN by Hansberry,        , Writer - Lorraine Hansberry, Director - Dawn Walton, Designer - Amanda Stoodley, Lighting - Aideen Malone, Sheffield Theatres, 2016, Credit: Johan Persson/ (56384474)
Photo credit: Johan Persson

Eclipse theatre fuses gritty naturalism with surreal dream sequences which reference African American dreams of finding identity and domestic harmony. The disillusioning reality of middle class struggles is interrupted briefly with an absorbing and fantastical sequences twice in the play. The first sequence belongs to Bennie, who is a young black woman striving to break free of the confines placed upon her by society. As Bennie attempts to rediscover her origins, she liberates herself of her westernised and ‘mutilated’ hair and dons the traditional Nigerian robes, and begins dancing in the living room, the lights transition from the harsh halogens to warming vermilion, and we are transported to Africa through Bennie’s imaginary vision. Walter and Ruth’s dream of domestic bliss causes the lights to blush rose, and the jazz music they dance to warping sensually as they waltz. I became absorbed in this romantic vision of pure ecstasy, as those two seemed the only two in the world that existed.

Though the outcome of the play may seem positive, as we have hopes for the family’s prosperity, just as Lena has hopes for her small plant to flourish, there is an implication that for this family there will be more struggles to come in Clybourne Park. They have won a small battle, and though spirits are high, the likelihood is that they will face many more trials and tribulations in the days to come.

 

Some thoughts on domestic violence

While trawling the internet I recently found a video, which clearly breaks down an issue on many people’s lips today. We’ve seen all the videos about how a man gets treated when he hits a woman compared to a woman hitting a man, and most of us, I am glad to say, have been downright outraged at the normalisation of domestic abuse against men. Most people on the street don’t intervene if they see a woman hit a man, even around the face. This video was clear and informative, and raises the issue of happy slapping in media which surrounds us today, and she asks why are we teaching our children that it is okay for a woman to hit a man? The simple answer to this question is that it is not okay. We shouldn’t live in a society where this double standard not only exists, but is perpetuated in popular culture.

Though I knew it was without a doubt a bad idea, I had a little peek at the comment section, and yet again YouTube commenters did not fail to disgust me. Youtuber ‘spoofer20′ comments :’My ex slapped me really hard (actually 2 times) because she got upset, I slapped her back and she cried and said “WHY DID YOU SLAP ME IM A GIRL!” I told her girl or boy I dont care, you slap me I slap you She didnt slap me a single time after that, easy problem to solve.’.

It disturbs me that a great video advocating kindness and encouraging us to use a little bit of humanity before we act is contaminated by these kind of thought processes.It worries me that some are using this video to encourage their own mutated form of gender equality, one which instead of focussing on improving our society for the betterment of both sexes instead focusses on a poisoned kind of equality which is detrimental to both. I was shocked to find so many were okay with this kind of comment, it received 92 up votes, and my question is why are we up voting domestic abuse? This comment reminded me of an argument I have heard used many times about feminism. Frequently when discussing feminism in the past I have been asked ‘So does this mean men get to hit women too now?’. The answer is absolutely not. A discussion about equality and equal rights should not be followed up by a violent threatening question such as this. It truly shocks me that this is what many people’s response is to a debate about gender equality. In what world does gender equality equate to violence?

I was going to discuss in this post how fundamentally men and women are different, we have different body masses, women bruise easier and that in my opinion the consequence is what is important rather than the incentive, which is why men shouldn’t retaliate when hit by a woman. But I have come to the realisation that this is besides the point. The larger question here is why instead of taking on the view promoted in this video that we shouldn’t hit a man or a woman, we instead discuss that abuse towards either gender is fine. Violence should be intolerable in any setting, there shouldn’t be any conditions. It shouldn’t be a matter of ‘she hit me first so I hit her back’, it shouldn’t be a question of gender or race, religion or any other variable you can think of. I left that video feeling sadly disillusioned. This is not what gender equality means, and I am glad I know this, but I fear that there will always be some individuals who suggest that equality means violence against all is acceptable. So lets battle (without throwing a punch) these dated ideologies and spread the word that gender equality does not equal violence.

Here’s Natalia Milano’s article on the normalisation of slapping men in the media, this makes for a really interesting read, and really made me think about why so many people think hitting men is normal.

If you liked this post, you might want to read a few of my thoughts on rape culture.

Spring rain

Air stale with the humid threat of rain

No sound

No animals

A silent sky

Pregnant with promises of purging

A promise to wash away the winter darkness,

To bring the fresh touch of spring

The chill is open and inviting

A whisper of cold nights biting your nose,

The scent of the air nostalgic,

You can taste change on your tongue

Let the air envelop you

Warming you in its intangible palm

The breeze caressing your neck

As droplets of rain kissing the horizon,

Which blushes with joy,

As the sun’s last vermilion rays fade

Valentines Day for singles

This year is my first ever Valentines Day not being single. I have kissed many a frog in my time, but this year I have managed to find the one to take me to the ball on February 14th (but I’ll settle for a Thai and a cuddle). However I know all too well the feeling of dread that would fill me when Valentines day loomed ever closer.

I think we need a new approach to Valentines Day. Lets revolutionise it. Instead of sitting in pyjamas and watching Bridget Jones, I think we should make it a day of celebration. Not of romance, but of love, all kinds of love. Love isn’t confined to romantic or sexual relationships. This Valentines Day make your best friend your Valentine. Your mum, or sister, anyone who you value, and thinks deserves to be shown it. There is always someone who loves you in this world, and though ‘the one’ might not be thinking of you on February the 14th, the people who love you most will.

So this Valentines Day have a lengthy phone call with a member of your family you haven’t caught up with in a while. Watch your favourite film with your best friend and a bottle of red wine. Tell your cat you love them, and treat them to some obscenely expensive cat food. Find love in your life that isn’t purely sexual or romantic. Your single status does not define you. Don’t feel the need to have someone in your life to make you feel ‘whole’. Who came up with that crap anyway?

And above all else, celebrate yourself, go look in the mirror, and smile, tell yourself that you love you. You’re the best person in your life. You are what matters. Have a night in with yourself. Read a book, play that instrument in the corner of your room that’s starting to get dusty. Get in the shower and sing until your lungs feel like they could burst.

This Valentine’s Day I want to give you the best present I possibly could. You.

 

Why I love words

talking
Credit: theumlaut.com

My name is Kate, and I can say for sure that I have had some word experience in my time. When I was young I tripped and stumbled over words. Like strangers in the street, doing a dance, attempting to co ordinate body and intent. I found them slipping out of my mouth, bumping into each other. I used my body to say my words, I created the words, huge with my arms, gesticulating wildly, like a melodramatic mime. Later, I became friends with words. They were no longer fumbling around each other, they were placed like luggage on a carousel, and I could select whichever case I liked. On a Friday I chose a lurid pink case and on Tuesday the case was tenebrous blue and understated. I became close with my words, my constant companions. They gave me confidence when I was shy, always holding my hand, but never my tongue. They gave me solace, curled between sheets when I was alone. Words have allowed me to find myself, words which spread black spidery legs across blank pages. I look back at my words, as a pool of water, crystal clear, my identity tangible beneath the surface.

No, I will not be told to ‘lighten up’: some thoughts on rape culture

I recently saw this video on Facebook, and was shocked to see how positively people were responding to it. With over ten thousand likes, and comments declaring how ‘funny’ it was, and how they’ve had similar experiences. I cannot believe that something so explicitly evocative of rape is still acceptable to the wide majority of people in a wealthy, educated western society. This shows clearly just how prevalent rape culture is, despite the fact that many declare ‘it doesn’t even exist’.

I understand that this video is about joining two popular ideas, currently there are many videos and pictures on Facebook which discuss this concept of men being ‘too big’, and I understand that ‘Mr Bankshot’ has conflated this idea with the viral video Charlie bit my finger. However this video makes for a disturbing representation of what many clearly think sex is normally like. Healthy and consensual sex should NOT hurt. If you trytaharrush to push someone off you during sex they should NOT continue, and thrust faster into you. It is NOT funny to laugh at someone else’s pain, particularly when it relates to sex. Another part of the video that I found disturbing was the look of derision on the man’s face when she ‘shouts’ ouch. If someone exclaims that something hurts, be considerate, their pain should NOT be collateral damage which is to be disregarded for their partner’s pleasure. This video should not be relatable, and  it truly saddens me to see that it is.

Another disturbing aspect of the video is the sound bites taken from the Charlie bit my finger video, even with the context of the viral video, this is distressing. Child abuse is explicitly evoked here, and it worries me that those who have viewed this video find this easy to overlook.

Many people might respond to this post with a comment such as ‘lighten up’, or ‘it’s only a joke”. But I don’t want to live in a society where rape and child abuse is condoned and even laughed about. Rape is a very real fear for so many women globally, and to normalise it and joke about it in this way, to me is repulsive. I don’t laugh when I hear someone walking behind me in the dark at night time. I’m scared, my heart skips a beat and I double my walking pace until I know I’m somewhere safe. To make trivial jokes about such a serious subject is vile, or ignorant at the very, very least. This video may have not had intentions to offend or cause upset, but entertainers whether they be on TV or on social media sites have a duty to consider how their media will be received. Next time you see a video such as this ask yourself what the implications are and if it is really okay to condone and accept media such as this. What would your reaction be if this happened in real life to you, or your best friend, or a member of your family? Think twice before laughing about rape. Consider the real life implications.

 

 

Let’s talk about sex, or more specifically vaginas.

As women we seem to have an inherent fear and maybe even loathing of our vaginas. We don’t like that long flappy bit there, this bit is wrinkly and in our adolescent years constantly question the normality of our vaginas. And this only describes the minority of girls who dare venture to behold their nether regions. I have had many a friend ask me the question, Kate is my fanny funny? I have even been shown a few fannies by drunk worried friends. Don’t worry drunk friend I am here to explain that there is nothing to fear!

Firstly we need to make one thing very very clear. Your vagina is never ever going to be on a catwalk in front of people inspecting its every crevice, wrinkle or awry hair. Stop being so hard on yourself! We are all individual, and if our faces don’t look the same then why expect our vaginas to? After all have you ever wanted to give first prize in a beauty contest to a pair of testicles? If you’re still feeling self conscious then check out the Wall of Vagina by Jamie McCartney, some of these have some major flaps, so don’t despair. No matter what shape or size your fanny may be, I can guarantee you that someone out there will adore it and cover it with kisses.

Secondly I want to address women who have never inspected their own vagina. I watched a remarkable Buzzfeed video recently in which women tried to identify which vagina was theirs from an artist sketch, and it stuns me that vaginas are still so taboo, something one of the participants said struck a chord with me ‘there’s no shame in having a vagina’. So if this is so true then why do we still feel embarrassed when discussing it?

Many women know very little about their own vagina, and treat it like their own alien between their legs. What’s even more worrying is that my brother can confirm that the schoolyard rumour that ‘girls only have one hole’ is still alive and kicking. Though amusing this might be, it is an issue of contention amongst 16 year old boyet-feat.jpgs, when it should be a matter of basic biology. Educate yourself here! You should know your vagina simply because it is a part of you, but if this isn’t a compelling enough reason for you then please, for the sake of you own future sexual satisfaction learn your vagina. We can’t expect anyone apart from ourselves to be genuises of our own genitalia (or even mildly knowledgeable about it if the one hole thing is anything to go on), so empower yourself! Vaginas are not bizarre aliens that we should cover with lace, wash scared and swiftly in the shower. Vaginas aren’t just for men, so why leave all the fun to them? At the end of the day if you can’t give yourself an orgasm, then how can you expect anyone else to give you one? So do yourself a favour, and give your vagina a handshake tonight. Be friends rather than acquaintances.

Still unsure? Read this to boost your vagina confidence!