Why The Cagebirds?
Tomorrow night marks the opening performance for The Cagebirds, the play I've been directing with The Little Theatre, and I thought you all might be interested in why I've chosen to direct this play, or rather, why I've chosen to direct it as a feminist interpretation.
I don't want to spoil the play for those of you intending to come, so I'll confine myself to saying that the cage in which the birds are kept represents the society we live in, or an interpretation of it. Each of the birds represents some aspect of how the patriarchy keeps women down and actively seeks to discourage gender equality. This was also a major factor in my decision to cross cast the character of Mistress in the task and rename the character to Master. When choosing which one act play I wanted to direct, I re-read The Cagebirds and instantly felt that the play supports such an interpretation. The more I thought about the text, the more it stuck. Those I suppose are my dramatic reasons for choosing to do The Cagebirds and to do it in this way. Because dramatically it works, it stuck with me and kept suggesting ideas, and because, more than many things, it's a great piece that David Campton has written.
There's more to it than that. Dramatic reasons for doing a project are always good – it certainly helps anyway – but they can't necessarily be everything. I define myself as a feminist. As the badges I bought for the play state: “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.” Whether it’s awesome campaigns like Bye Felipe or the Everyday Sexism Project or terrible examples of the patriarchy at large like the hacking of private pictures of Jennifer Lawrence and other female celebrities or #gamergate, the news is full of reasons to direct this play. Sadly, the news isn’t full enough of this. People are blogging, tweeting, campaigning and still there are places where the battleground hasn’t changed. And I don’t expect to change that with a one act play at a community theatre. I don’t really expect to do anything – other than hopefully entertain the audience and provide a good time for the cast and crew too. But it’s something close to my heart and that made me want to do it. If even one person thinks about how our society is geared towards men, how women are still objectified and treated as if they were second class, then I’ll be happy.
The third and final reason is my Mum. I am fortunate to have a Mum who is always looking out for me, is always ready to help me out, always there to chide me for not calling her often enough (sorry, Mum!) and is just all kinds of awesome all of the time. She’s been there to kiss better scrapes to the skin, bruises to the ego, and wounds to the heart. She has shown me what it is to be strong and what it is to allow yourself to be vulnerable. She taught me to go after what makes you happy, to do your best to be kind to other people and love their differences from you as well as their similarities. In short, my Mum may not be the only reason I’m a humanist and a feminism and a supporter of gay rights, but she’s a powerful one. The idea that this woman, who has given me so much, should be be valued by society as second class to its male members, should be treated as such makes me angry. And, you know, to me she’s amazing, but to the world at large she’s one person. But to someone somewhere every woman is a mother or a sister or a cousin or a friend or a wife or a lover or an aunt or a grandmother or a niece or a daughter or a role model in one way or another. Every damn one. To me, if I want to stand up for my mother, I have to stand up for all mothers. If I want to stand up for this one amazing woman, I have to stand up for all women. So that’s what I’m going to do. This play is just one way of doing that. And here and now, I dedicate it to all mothers, all women, because I dedicate it to my mother.
And, Mum, I know you’re reading this so I just want to say that you are as beautiful and amazing today as the day I met you and that will never not be true. I love you.