Sunday, September 30, 2018

The last minute thing that people liked the most

I had the opportunity to present a talk as part of a celebration honouring 125 years since Kiwi women won the right to vote. There have been heaps of events, and our talk was months in the thinking about preparing. It was a terrific talk, tons of research with my workmate, but the funny thing about it was the minute or so of acting I did with another colleague, Mark, towards the end, that people commented on the most.
The talk was focused on the many ways women over the years have used creativity in protests, whether it was anti-nuclear, anti-apartheid, equality, dress reform at the turn of the century, that kind of thing. So we covered things like making posters, poetry, cartoons and art, music, zines and even had a dance group of seniors perform a dance on breaking the glass ceiling at the end. All this was well planned, but at the last minute, ie the day before, we decided we should mention a well-known feminist playwright, Renee.
So I found several of her plays and thought, why don't we do a reading from a scene? I found a really good bit which was a male and female part, with lots of gritty dialogue, and asked my colleague Mark who was recording the talk and taking care of the techie stuff if he'd read out the male part. He was up for it, and we did a run through.
But then it changed.
We thought we should make it a bit more atmospheric. It was set in the depression of the 1930s, so a few basic props would be good. It took place in a kitchen, so we decided as I was introducing it to the audience and giving a bit of back story to the scene, that we should drag in a table, and a chair for Mark to lounge in. He suggested I wear an apron (couldn't find one suitable tbh) but I got a teatowel and a few cups to look domestic.
And that was it.
So at the appropriate point of the talk, we did this little reading, that was only a minute long at the most. Short and simple.
Well.
Of all the things in the talk, it was the thing that was commented on the most, days, even the week after.  People said how much they liked the play and including the scene from Renee's play, and the acting. (To be fair, it was Mark's acting they raved about, he was great.)
As we were talking about it later, it truly amazed us how it was that a simple thing, decided on the day before, when the talk had been months in the thinking about, how that was the thing that was most memorable and appreciated.
Not surprisingly, it has been mooted there should be more acting in future presentations. Not sure how that can work, but if you ever get the chance to read a play like Wednesday to Come, it's a gritty work on a terrible time globally, and how it affected folk who were, as one of the lines in the play suggested, worried they were going to starve to death.
~ Joanne

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