Posted by: stelladuffy | May 19, 2012

what twitter did for me this week

so …

The amazing/deep-digging/thinking blogs/tweets/posts about Three Kingdoms at the Lyric Hammersmith that I’ve been unable to see (I’m in Wales). I wish I had, I suspect I might have found it hard-going, while simultaneously being glad that men theatre makers were engaged in investigating the trafficking of women for sex, and that a question of the glory of capitalism (or not) is being raised on stage at all*. And not being raised by yet another young woman actor getting her kit off to tell us what it’s like getting your kit off. I also expect I’d have been interested to see something that sounds like it is so theatrical – when so much theatre I see simply isn’t.

At the same time I also have a question around why we make work about these things at all, the heartbreaking things, the hard things, the stuff more usually addressed in documentaries on tv – it’s also the question about why we write and read crime fiction. Are we re-creating it to remind ourselves that rubbish things happen and we need to be aware/step up to make change? Or are we doing it because human beings have always told each other hard stories, ghost stories,scary stories, dark stories and we have a yen, somewhere deep in us, to see them/read them – perhaps as a way to process what is hard, dark and REALLY out there?
I’m sure there are other reasons too. I have no answers, nor even a preference, it interests me though.

What twitter has given me, at a remove, is a sense of the immediacy and urgency people feel about this production. That even when it’s upset them they’ve wanted to share that. That when they’ve loved it, they’ve wanted to share it. And that when they liked it with larger or smaller reservations, they also wanted to share. I’m grateful to twitter for sharing that sharing and also to the theatre bloggers who are engaged in such tough THINKING that my heart goes out to their poor frazzled brains.
Here’s some of the blogs I’ve been very grateful to for strong thinking and enormous honesty :
Maddy Costa
Andrew Haydon
Catherine Love
Sarah Punshon

Of course, what all this reading and tweeting and being hugely engaged with something I can’t even see** also did, was take time from my own writing. So now I have to get back to that not-theatre script. In which the stag (not the deer/doe) is the central motif. (It has also made me think too much about the audience, which is not at all a helpful place to be when only on a second draft.)

nb – the misogyny thing. I find MOST (mainstream) theatre and film (at least mildly) misogynist. The women-on-stage-and-screen-as-wives-and-girlfriends-only. The way that women’s lives are portrayed as domestic but men’s as universal. The constant assumption of protagonist as male. The way women writers (in books too) are taken more seriously when we write about men than when we write about women (and then we wonder why our young women playwrights seem – also – to be choosing not to write for women!). The time after time I’ve seen naked or semi-naked women on stage or screen and fully clothed men. The way women are largely silent or absent most of the time in most of our representations of ourselves as human beings on stage or on screen at pretty much all times. And the way critics barely seem to notice, most of the time.

* yes, I know there are (two? three?) women in the cast, but it’s written by a man, directed by a man, and in a building headed by a man, dealing with an issue that – essentially – is one that affects all women (imo) but is about and for the consumption of men. I’ve also been a woman in rehearsal rooms where I’m the only, or one of just two women, and it doesn’t matter who you’re working with, it is different to working in a room that is gender balanced. Not better or worse, but definitely different.

** also reminded me how very frustrating it is when London people go on about London things all the time. sorry.


  1. a play ‘peeling’ by kaite o’reilly, published by faber

  2. so is that actually a comment, or a book plug?!

  3. It was an honest response to the question I saw -‘what book of yours should I read?’ It’s hardly a book plug – the play is over ten years old and hard to find in print, but from what I have gathered from reading your work and occasional blog post, I think you might like this play for its politics, dramaturgy, and content. Apologies if I misinterpreted the question. I thought it was a genuine invitation for those reading and liking your posts (which is how I saw the question, I was clicking ‘like’ about the post on 3 Kingdoms) to engage and suggest work of ours you might like to read.

  4. you didn’t misinterpret the question – merely it’s location!
    you posted the answer to another blog beneath the twitter/Three Kingdoms blog, hence me not knowing why you’d posted it, seeing as it didn’t seem to have relevance to the blog in question!!
    (actually, the title of my other blog was in reference to people asking me which book of mine people should read. as I said in the blog, I never know, so thank you for your recommendation.)

  5. Oh bloody hell! Sorry about that! I’m visually impaired, so these things happen all the time – it took several years and lots of nerve for me to start trying to interact online (so many easy mistakes to make – as seen by this example) – but thanks for clarifying and being so understanding about it. And I have to say, I really enjoy the punch and spark in your work – the intelligence and engagement – and the fact you have a blog like this, passing on other engaged reflections on culture. There’s not many blogs reflecting with new performance writing – as a playwright I’m always hungry for posts like yours – and I always forward them on, too. Thank you so much.

  6. thank you. I’m glad you like the blog, and I’m glad you know I wasn’t just being snippy! (I can be, if tired, but not often on my blog!) x

  7. as a fellow occasionally snippy woman, I’m all for snippiness. It has its place and is necessary at times!

  8. Hello,

    I’ve come to this a bit late, but thank you v. much for the mention (and for reading and engaging).

    RE: “nb – the misogyny thing. I find MOST (mainstream) theatre and film (at least mildly) misogynist. The women-on-stage-and-screen-as-wives-and-girlfriends-only. The way that women’s lives are portrayed as domestic but men’s as universal…”

    Yes. Agree. (which, in part, was why I think I had diff. response to 3K – I felt that they had really *thought* about what they were doing.)

    “The time after time I’ve seen naked or semi-naked women on stage or screen and fully clothed men…”

    Although, in German (and mainland European) theatre, actually, one tends to see *a lot* more male full-frontal nudity. Than Britain and than female. No idea what that means, but there are a lot of willies on stage.

    “…And the way critics barely seem to notice, most of the time.”

    This is perhaps the bit that interests me most. Partly because I do notice and I do think about it (although theatre can often be *better* than film or telly in not reproducing quite such a dismal state of affairs). That said, I think a lot of criticism rests on a huge number of assumptions. I wrote a think about it here: – key passage:

    “Consider the following opening to a review:

    “Last night, the management of such-and-such a theatre handed out tickets – each worth one week’s income support – to the theatre critics of every national newspaper in Britain and several eminent broadcasters. They gave away the rest of the seats in the house to minor celebrities and friends of the theatre and cast.

    “The seating in the theatre was arranged so that those who had the most expensive tickets could sit nearest the stage and see the action best and those with the cheapest tickets were sat at the very back of the theatre or behind inconveniently placed pillars. The play was an argument in favour of socialist principles.”

    I’d argue that is a more neutral set of observations than those which usually open any given review. And it strictly adheres to the model of British Theatre Criticism as reporting upon the event.

    The problem is that while those details are neither untrue nor superfluous, they go without saying. Not least because the same will be true for many critics on at least four nights out of five. Week in, week out.

    After noticing this, one then notices how much else theatre criticism leaves uninterrogated.”

    Same goes for sexism, I think.

  9. yes, all of that. thank you. (I wish that did get said at the beginning of every review though!)

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