The Arches @ St Stephen’s
9-31 August, 19.30
That women from the audience felt empowered and secure enough to shed their clothes, stand shoulder to shoulder with the nude cast, clothed members of the audience and join in a gutsy, bellowing rendition of Jerusalem in the show’s finale, is a feat that I have never before witnessed, and testament to the radiance and fortitude of Nic Green’s ‘Trilogy’.
A dialogue on contemporary feminism and ‘herstory’, this show is divided into three parts. First is a call to arms and acceptance: a backdrop of film footage moves from Green and Bradshaw, as they graffiti magazines with airbrushed cover images of “round tits, big assed, firm chested lesbian lovers”, to wobbling jellies. Cue a fantastic group of nude volunteers who march onto the stage before raving to punk music and giving the proverbial two fingers to convention.
Re-connecting with the legacy that came before them, through a tight focus on the infamous 1971 panel discussion Town Bloody Hall, forms the crux of Part Two. As the documentary itself plays onstage, unpacking some of the grit behind the feminist movement in the 70’s, the actors join in celebrating their own physicality, stunningly moving in synchronicity amidst Greer’s ‘Mozart’s sister’ speech.
Part Three outlines their own manifesto ‘Make Your Own Herstory’. The tone is light hearted, but back-projections of images of female stoning, hangings, and circumcision hit home how far from any semblance of equality we still are. The personal testimony and ‘Womanifesto’ from Bradshaw’s mother (phoned on stage) “Where have I been? Where are we going?” compacts the image one gets of these performers. They do not preach from soapboxes, or tell you that to value home, men or family is wrong. Far from it: they are simply compassionate and rigorous young women, with a voice and the talent to express it. Completely uplifting.