I had the pleasure to be invited to the Herstory Festival, at Theatre N16 on Sunday, a two day feminist theatre festival that due to my own performance commitments, I could only attend the Sunday segment. Of course I could write a review of the evening I watched, but what I really want to emphasize, is the enormity of the festival and what it signifies.
Nastazja Somers, the literary manager of Theatre N16, is the creative visionary behind the Herstory Festival. The Sunday evening part of the festival included 7 pieces by female writers ( a mixture of fiction and faction), which were female stories, hence ‘Herstory’. My preceding statement isn’t entirely true, as the short plays were fundamentally stories that included females at their core- the protagonist. This is what I want to convey, that this is theatre, good theatre, not to be stereotyped or put in a box, so to speak.
‘Her story’ doesn’t mean that only predominantly females can relate to these stories, it means these stories have to be told, they have to reach audiences who realise the strength, the compassion and the hardships that women have experienced for hundreds of years. The play Women of Unsound Mind by Grace Carroll highlighted the degrading conditions and attitudes that should not be erased from history, as much as some would like that to happen. Women being seen as sex objects and of fragile mental states, is an archaic attitude, that should not be forgotten, asylum’s all over the world still operate and this play is as relevant as ever.
With subjects such as rape, violence and ageism, all the pieces at this festival held no punches. Herstory is gritty, mesmerising and just plain real. This festival really makes you ask where has this theatre been all my life? The play She Has Seen The Wolf by Allie Costa even included contemporary dance, in the most chilling of forms!
The post show discussion, headed by Dannie-Lu Carr, displayed the views of theatre makers and critics, who were in agreement at the Herstory Festival’s importance to not only British feminist theatre, but British theatre in general. With another Herstory Festival in the pipeline, unlike perhaps other one off ‘female themed’ theatrical events, this is proof of the festival’s impact to both genders consciousness.