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I am allergic to the American white male narrative

I woke up one day allergic to the American white male narrative. You know, like lactose. I have been fed too much of it all my life and now I have built up an intolerance. This worries me because this means I am allergic to many of the plays being produced in Canada. I am looking at a season right now: 100% male playwrights, 80% AWM playwrights, only 12% of the leads roles on stage are for women. It is so easy for the AWM voice to dominate a season with no complaints. I only just realized the numbers here when I asked myself, “Why don’t I want to see anything on this stage this year?” images-1

It’s even worse when the AWM playwright is famous and seems to be abusing his privilege. The last straw was Vanya and Sonja and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang. What a malformed script full of female typecasts and sloppy unjustified “happy” endings. Shame on you, Durang. You are a beautiful and bristling writer. Where is your rigour? What happened? Where is your editor? You just wasted two and a half hours of my time I paid a babysitter for. Any praise this script gets is on the back of beautiful performers and directors who try to make you work. That script would not have passed my first year playwriting class. I am tired of hearing about the lack of purpose that comes from having a privileged and spiritually bankrupt existence. I am sick to death of the latent shame of aging men who admit to lusting after young women or boys and finding women their own age disgusting. I have no more time for the bustling of ego in the workplace between fellows who make way too much money for what little they contribute to society in the first place. And heavens, if I hear one more play where the holocaust is brought up to add a little depth to a very weak script, I am going to scream.

One may say, “Well, the world is run by AWM, so that power must be checked and challenged with plays that speak to them.” I say, “Not so much. First of all, it isn’t AWM who make up the majority of the audience, even in their own country, it’s their wives and mothers. Secondly, the healthiest thing for the AWM is to stop talking and start listening to those around them.”

It’s a completely different experience performing in one of these plays. In fact, it’s the opposite experience. When an AWM actually writes a female into their play and I get to play her, it’s my chance to breathe some heart and balance into this world.

Does this sound angry towards men? Oh, don’t mistake me. This isn’t about men. I love men. I have an AMAZING man in my life and several incredible men in my family. I love the masculine and I do love America. This is about becoming surfeited due to an AWM glut; like when you’re a child and you are fed too many yams and can’t stomach them anymore. I want to hear from women. I want to hear from my smart offbeat innovative and quirkily dark Canadian men. I want to hear from other countries, other cultures, other religions.

So, until I feel I have corrected my diet and balanced out my nutrients, I am going to avoid seeing plays by AWMs. It’s not that someone won’t come along who is brilliant. There are amazing American men out there, some of them my dear friends, my heroes, my teachers. But I am going to get spiritual rickets from an unbalanced diet. Just eating white foods is not good for you, ask any nutritionist. Until I stop feeling the disparity, I am going to avoid all plays that are one white man shows or two white man shows or all white man shows.  I need to make room. I need to make room for women. For diverse voices. I mean, read the Georgia Straight any day of the week and what do you pick? There is so much theatre. So, this will help me choose. It has to start with me. I have to stop giving the most powerful all the power. No more Christopher Durang, no more David Mamet. No more Arthur Miller. I have heard from them all my life like charming bully uncles who don’t shut up at the dinner table and tell me “little girls should be seen and not heard”. These guys do not need my royalties or my ears, in fact, most of them are dead.

How about we stop letting the uncles hog the conversation? They aren’t always the best writers. They’re simply at the head of the table.Unknown-2

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2 comments

  1. Diana Sandberg

    Tell it, sister.

  2. Jessica

    Beautifully written Lucia! Thank you for your words and wisdom.

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