When I made my solo show Enthroned, I had something important to say and I needed a creative team to help me say it. Once I did that, a lot of other women told me about things they felt needed to be said. I wanted to create a set of circumstances for more of those stories to be heard; an artistic space where we can say what needs to be said in a way that strengthens us all.
I feel frustrated that I know so many powerful, creative, intelligent, dynamic women, but I don’t always see our full potential being realised. I feel frustrated that though we have made huge progress, sexism and misogyny are still pervasive. So pervasive, in fact, that they are sometimes hard to even identify. We confront them at every turn in the world outside us. We meet them in our workplaces, our families, our public transport, our media; and we meet them within ourselves. We internalise the messages that tell us we are less than we are. It is very difficult to unhinge patriarchal conditioning from the way things are or the way things have always been.
I’d like to get going on the way things could be. I know that to do that, we need all our creative metal and we need each other. So SoloSIRENs is about women telling stories together. We can’t find and tell our stories in isolation from one other. And we can’t overcome patriarchy without overcoming all the other barriers that are interwoven with it; barriers based on class, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, and citizenship status. These barriers deprive so many of us of our fullest expression. And that deprives us all.
I’m hoping to give us a little space to breath. To say what needs to be said, to hear what needs to be heard and to do so in a context of true support and collaboration between theatre artists, audiences and communities.
As SoloSIRENs, we have worked together to help each of us bring more of who we are to the world. We hope the same can be true for our audiences. We want you to be part of the process. The festival is a journey, and whether you are with us for one show or all, your presence and input are crucial. We will be mapping the dialogues amongst all who are present at SoloSIRENs events, and we will share that learning at a seminar in 2020.
Things don’t change without a critical mass and sometimes we can only see ourselves in the mirror of the other. I know that it is only by looking into the faces of bravery that I have found the courage to be brave. The name SoloSIRENs comes from Jacquelyn Claire, a journalist in New York who gave it to a series of interviews profiling courageous women in theatre. Her inspiration inspired me. And we hope the work of SoloSIRENs Festival will inspire you, and will generate further expressions of courage, creativity and change.
Jenny Macdonald - Festival Director