Power Dynamics


As misogynistic as I find the ancient tradition of shunting menstruating women off to huts for a week and then ritualistically cleansing them with dogmatic voodoo before re-releasing all of their femininity on society, I am wondering tonight if that one week wasn’t a good time for women. I’m imagining a secret world of education and art and time to pursue personal desires behind closed doors. I don’t care about the historical accuracy of my imagination–I think I’m going to write a play where this is what happens.

Speaking of writing plays, I’m having a bit of a battle with one of mine. I need it to be ready to submit for grad school applications and yet it just doesn’t.want.to.work. I spent last weekend completely rewriting my second act (which it needed, which I spent a month writing) and I still need to resuscitate the first act. I’m a little concerned that when I’m done, while it will be linear and ok, it won’t be any good. I cannot tell how much of this concern is due to anxiety or just actual my-play-is-crap-ness but I guess the best I can do is keep making improvements and then letting go. I know that I am acutely critical, I have worked hard to become so, but sometimes that can be to my detriment when considering my own work.

I went to see Saint Martin’s production of Cloud 9 last week, directed by a dear friend of mine and featuring another, and sitting in the audience brought to my attention how much I yearn to be in a production. I want to act, I want to direct. As soon as November is over (odious month) I am going to start auditioning. Just like I need food and books and music to survive happily, I also need theatre. I never feel listless when I am involved in a production but since seeing my friends’ play last week I have become rather discontent and grumpy. That irascible theatre bug is itching.

In acting class my freshman year it was noted that my voice would raise in pitch when I lost connection–that was one of my ticks. Since then I have learned to manipulate not only the pitch but also the timbre of my voice while performing. These past few months have been made up of college fairs and high school visits, and I notice that when I am at fairs attempting to get out very basic information over and over again my voice goes up about a fourth in pitch from where it normally lies. I think that this is a combination of my background in music (protecting my vocal folds during heavy use) but it is also attached to my training in theatre: while perhaps not always sincere, people react positively to friendly, higher-pitched voices. They are perceived as more cheerful and interested, and also less intimidating.

I personally think that it is the perky people who you have to watch out for. People who rule with intimidation and low voices are see-through in intent–people who are overly positive are suspicious and most likely devious. Ok, so maybe I’ve got some trust issues I need to work out. Maybe I’m really the one who ought not to be trusted? After all, I’m the one who has worked for years to try to understand and manipulate the perceptions of others. I guess you have to ask, when do the actors stop performing?

Sincerely,
Emilie

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