The other day I went to a see a production given by Playbox Theatre, held at their local headquarters, Dream Factory, Warwick.
In the words of Stewart McGill & Mary King, the Artistic Directors of this company, “Having explored with SYC the torments of The Winter’s Tale, in parallel we were discovering the wronged natured of many of Shakespeare’s heroines. It seemed a catalogue was emerging whereby the women in the plays were victims of male power, greed, status and political actions, not to mention infidelity and sexual domination. From Juliet and Hermia across the canon to Queen Katherine in Henry VIII these women demanded to be heard.”
After listening and watching the young people acting the roles of these wronged women, (among whom I may single out Alice Woodhouse as Hermione in A Winter’s Tale, and Mairi Ella Challen as Rosalind in As You Like It for their superb acting) I reflected: What do they all have in common? All these wronged women, as Shakespeare portrays them?
It’s this – they all inherently know their own self-worth.
They all know they deserve better.
Shakespeare gives them a voice. They express themselves powerfully, eloquently, passionately.
They won’t necessarily succeed, in worldly terms, because they are up against the brutish force of power politics and superior physical strength and sexual violence.
But their voices ring out.
The young actors, (I later speculated) perhaps thought this:
This will never happen to me.
I will never get myself into this situation.
I would never let anyone treat me like this.
I would never make this mistake.
But in years to come, maybe they will remember those impassioned words – from Kate in The Taming of the Shrew, from Hero in Much Ado About Nothing, from Juliet, or from Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
International Women’s Day was necessary because there are many women in this world who also have the same value and worth, but are not able to express themselves powerfully, eloquently, passionately.
And may they, and all the oppressed women for whom International Women’s Day was first created, know their own worth and live it out and fully possess it.