You may recall reading in my events page that I was invited to a 'Salon'.... Intriguing huh? Well let me tell you it was a most enjoyable evening.
The Salon was hosted by Likely Story; 4 wonderful ladies, 3 of whom I went to drama school with (Anne Langford, Ellen Groves and Hazel Anderson). Likely Story was created as part of their final term project and to see how it's developed and become so influential is truly an awesome thing. I feel quite proud for them all. To think how far we've all come since drama school *sigh* ...Bah, enough of that sentimental chaff- let's get to the good stuff!
So what's with this 'Salon' business? Well, I was informed that salons are traditionally a place where women go to congregate and socialise; a place where revolutions can be formed and broken. And this rings very true to me- I remember going out with my brothers and on the way we'd always pop into a barbers, not for a haircut; simply to say hello. Inside the shop there'd be a gathering of people and I always marvelled at this. No other establishment I know creates such a communal feeling.
This event was had the same intention: an informal, social gathering of thoughts, ideas and concepts washed down with some lovely cheese, cakes and wine (WOOHOO!).
The project they're currently working on is an all female production with 'women in a boat' as the main concept. This idea derived from Anne finding a photograph on the wall of a pub - The Anchor Inn, Seatown in Dorset - of a group of women from early 1900's standing next to an upturned rowing boat, labelled 'rude and coarse women'. Anne was struck by how vital alive and embodied they seemed compared to the caption. Who had labelled them rude and coarse and why?
The Salon was hosted at the OvalHouse theatre and the cafe was transformed into these workshops stations with lots of tables and activities which explored themes based on women and what it means to be one. We were all encouraged to contribute our thoughts towards each activity which would aid the Likely ladies with their project. In a way it was a fun, informal research and development workshop.
Some of the stations specifically asked questions about society and how we feel about the way women are portrayed in areas like the media. Other activities had questions more specific to the project: "What are the gender norms that would trap the women on the boat? What are they sent to fix? What do you NOT want to see portrayed in a play about women"
This I liked. It showed that Likely Story are really taking this all female production very seriously. It's important to strike that balance of entertaining and educating the audience without ostracising them (especially men). Gathering 'market research', so to speak, is a pragmatic way to achieve that.
One of the many highlights of the evening was a poet called Meg Beech....
We were also introduced to Dr Lucy Gilliam who, on the 16th Nov 2014, will be going on an expedition with 14 other amazing women. During this epic adventure they aim to scientifically investigate climate change and the effects of plastics both in the ocean and within our food chain ecosystem. The boat they are travelling on is, aptly, named Sea Dragon. For more info click here: eXXpediton
What I really loved about the evening was that it was such a relaxed and friendly environment which, by default, naturally draws the best out of people. This led to really insightful and enjoyable discussions. It was a joy to be around women who want to be the cause of genuine, positive change in this world.
What can I say- it was a great night. I love being pleasantly surprised. Random fact I discovered on the night: In parliament there are more people are called 'Dave' than there are women!
We ended the night with another spoken word/slam poem by Meg (she's really good isn't she). Click here for her details: Meg Beech
Preech, child, preech!