Sarah Grimke works in performance of all types in the Philadelphia region. They’ve been on stage, backstage, and in the office for years now.

Goldie is a director in Philadelphia.

Jane is a multidisciplinary theatre artist living and working in Philadelphia.

Goldie

What was in your pockets for this one?

Sarah

I know Chelsea and Magda professionally and think they are a delight to work with. Additionally, I’d been following this project since it was just the photography version. I found it really thought provoking and was curious how they could make it performative

Goldie

My only pockets for this was that it was recommended by someone who I usually agree with about stuff, so I was expecting to like it.

Sarah

Great. Where do you want to start?

Goldie

Well, I loved the idea of this piece. And there are some moments I especially loved, for example I’m still thinking about Magda fighting with Jaime. Another woman told me that it was triggering for her because a man was using force against a woman, but because I didn’t worry for her safety it felt cathartic to me.

Sarah

I definitely found it jarring to watch that fight. Like I couldn’t relax tilI knew she was OK. But then she was OK and it was really nice to see her interacting safely in the way she wanted.

Sarah

I think my favorite part was the Angry Everyday song. I saw it at Get Pegged in March and had it stuck in my head for weeks.

Goldie

I was just going to say the same thing. I really liked the song, too

Sarah

I am angry every day, and I feel like people think that is incongruous to being pretty or cute or feminine, but in reality, the older I get the more I realize all the women I know are like the hulk. They are always angry. They are just better at controlling it and hiding it.

Goldie

And it’s been an especially angering couple of days, couple of weeks actually. So that was very affirming.

Sarah

I can’t stop thinking about the pie charts either. It made me think about what my 25/75 split is.

Goldie

Yeah, I liked most of what was part of the TED style presentation. However, I feel like after that, the show sort of loses it’s footing. I liked all the ideas and all the parts, but I wish they had been put together in a more clear and comprehensive way. I really feel like this show needs a director to give it shape and create a through line. It has the potential to be really cathartic, especially for women, but the structure doesn’t allow that catharsis right now.

Sarah

Yeah. I think I started looking at the time just after the shame solos, even though I enjoyed the science of it all, and looking at all the different bodies and such.

Jane

I think it’s important to point out that I never see shows about beautiful and sustaining female friendship

Goldie

I love that they did this great tribute to female friendship, but I didn’t understand the link between that and shame and anger.

Sarah

Yes, more female friendship, please.  But I also didn’t see the connection. Except that maybe only your true friends let you have shame and anger without judgment, or like the things about you you are ashamed of.

Goldie

I like the look at the childhood friendship, too, and the way you’d just collaborate and build stuff together shamelessly. I think there’s such a focus on mean girls and the way girls are mean to each other that we’ve forgotten about that kind of shameless collaborative play that little girls do.

Sarah

So true. I feel like one of the greatest sins of misogyny is that women are taught to not trust other women. As if we are always competing and undercutting each other.

Jane

Yeah, agreed. For me that friendship was the answer to debilitating shame in the show

Goldie

I think that’s where they were headed. I just would have liked to have seen that line drawn more clearly.

Sarah

And this show showed the power and potential of what could happen…but yeah the structure needed support.

Goldie

I think the show could really go to another level if we could understand better what the creators see as the connection.

Sarah

For sure. I think they needed a real director, just for an outside eye. Wait. Did they have one ?

Goldie

No, it was collaborative and that shows. It’s clear that there wasn’t someone looking at it comprehensively and from outside of the performances. The part with Jenn Kidwell, for example, while delightful, had no context and therefore didn’t make much sense. If it had been anyone but her, it could have been really uncomfortable. She’s really engaging.

Sarah

Yes, the show needed arc and pacing a bit, but honestly, it’s one of the most self-reflection-inducing things I have seen in a long time.

Goldie

Yeah, I think they were great on content. Do you want to talk about design?

Sarah

Yes. I liked that set! It let them have all these different feels.

Goldie

That was a very rare instance of projections working in a set. I usually hate projections. I like how it evoked conferences and TED talks.

Sarah

But was still fun and feminine. It didn’t feel cold.

Goldie

That’s a good point. I think the light helped with that.

Sarah

Yes although I barely noticed lights. Which is ideal. Andrew Thompson did a great job.

Goldie

It would have been easy for the lighting design to be showy instead of supportive, but they weren’t. Oh, and those costumes! I was in love with Magda’s outfit in the opening

Sarah

I think the costumes were made by Magda’s mom.

Goldie

I like the way that they seemed like aliens because of the academic deadpan they were speaking in and the otherworldly glamor of their clothes, which is a great solution to the fact that women are so rarely taken seriously when they are speaking authoritatively. The fact that they seemed to be not of this world took them out of the misogynist context of our world, like alien queens in a sci fi movies.

Sarah

Yes! And how the shame of being glittery and professional intersected. Was that just me?

Goldie

Yes, there was a real sense of owning it. I loved that they looked  like they were wearing exactly what they wanted to.

Sarah

I loved the touch of the microphone sound too. Plus that mic sound with a touch of reverb isn’t easy. That’s all engineered

Goldie

Did this show feel inclusive to you?

Sarah

I actually had some “is this white feminism” moments, but it kept surprising me.

Goldie

What made you feel like it might be?

Sarah

I think I am just hypersensitive lately. Plus I saw Time is on Our Side that week, so my bar was high.

Goldie

The shame portraits were fairly inclusive. They gave a sense that Chelsea and Magda saw shame as not just a problem of white women. It would have been great if what Jenn was doing was contextualized in terms of her own shame.

Sarah

It’s a universal topic.

Goldie

The person I went to the show with said that although Chelsea and Magda were talking about the balance of shame and pleasure, at this point in the development of the show it doesn’t feel like there is any real risk of them experiencing shame anymore. I thought that was a good point. It’s like they have worked through it, so it takes some of the stakes out.

Sarah

Which I think was the goal? To exercise that shame demon? Or like once you shout it out and you aren’t hiding it, there can’t be shame

Goldie

I’d like to be witnessing some of that though, rather than the aftermath. It would be more exciting and more inclusive. It can be alienating to see someone who has worked through something and welcoming to see someone who is still struggling. Especially since the shame solos were kind of sold as “OK, now I’m going to confront this, come with me.”

Sarah

True. Though I kept in mind they are dancers, not actors.

Goldie

They had a good presence, though. They were both interesting and charming at all times.

Sarah

Very true. I think playing something untrue to them in the moment is foreign though. So, they couldn’t show us a journey they had already been through? I really like that it was possible to get through the shame though. That had a lot of hope in it for me.

Goldie

Yeah. It was a very cool concept.  How was the audience reaction the night you were there?

Sarah

Lots of laughter. I felt like the dance community was a strong presence and that there were some inside jokes in there I wasn’t privy to, but I didn’t feel bad about it.

Goldie

The night I was there, I was really belly laughing at a lot of stuff and I was the only one. It felt weird. Like “vapid ham body.”

Sarah

That was hilarious!

Goldie

I think there is so much to be said about shame and dancers/actors and the female body. That’s another place where I would have loved to have seen a connection made between what we do with our bodies and the shame we feel. Especially because  as a director I recognize “vapid ham” and “extra turnt” tend to be actress responses to body shame on stage.

 

Sarah

That moment about Magda’s moms portrait where she hated the picture cause she felt ugly in it, not because she was a doormat. That was so rich

Goldie

We didn’t talk about sound. Any thoughts?

Sarah

Just on that I liked how collaborative it felt.

Goldie

Yes, the compositions from Mike Kiley?

Sarah

And I felt like they chose the sounds for their solos.

Goldie

Yeah, I think sound supported the show well.

Sarah

I just hope they keep working on it. I love those portraits and how they make them, I love the questions they are asking. I want to keep learning with them

 

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