Melu Bel Productions is a film and music collective that creates work to try out new, bold and provocative ideas. An experimental film director and writer, Rowlands is transferring experimental film to the stage with Abbott, to explore live verbatim performance alongside music from duo group People I’ve Loved
Calm Down Dear: Big Bang 2
Mon 22 Jan at 7:30pm – Tickets can be booked here
Way to the Pretty by Elinor Rowlands
Way to the Pretty is a piece of verbatim theatre that sweeps into song and ends with poetry.
Rowlands can never do anything simply. This will be her debut theatre directing piece, she usually directs experimental films and creates poetry soundscapes, one of which will be performed at the end of the piece.
This will be the first time for her to bring work to a live audience.
Trying out her ideas at Camden People’s Theatre’s feminist festival is a way for her to see how the audience reacts to the bombardment of information she processes on a daily basis.
A disabled artist, Rowlands has never shied away from being open about her impairments, and instead of creating to the mainstream, has used her impairments as a tool in which to create work.
Her piece is from a transcript from a rape case between barrister and witness*. (*A rape victim is known as a ‘Witness’ in court.)
However, Rowlands didn’t want to focus too much on the harrowing parts of the transcript and chose only pieces which highlighted the flaws in our egalitarian ideals by playing with how gender is approached in court.
She has also been shortlisted as an Emerging Artist to make the full application for funding to Unlimited for her piece Survivor which grew from Way to the Pretty. The latter deals with how women are torn to shreds in court whilst Survivor deals with the aftermath of both the trauma and the judicial abuse they receive in court – what happens when disabled female survivors have to knuckle on against the tide of life.
But back to Way to the Pretty – Through verbatim theatre, tap dancing, film, sound, music, song and poetry, we can grasp onto the ridiculousness that is society’s ingrained notion to dismiss and not believe women who survive violent crimes.
This piece calls for women to be heard, listened to, supported and most of all be believed when she comes forward about a crime committed against her.
The way women are treated in court means women are still being cross examined as if they have encouraged the crime to be committed to themselves and this needs to end.
When will we start believing women instead of demonising them?
Response from Gemma Abbott, the actress in Way to the Pretty on what it was like working on this piece:
Socks stuffed into my pants
I spent large parts of this rehearsal process with socks stuffed into my pants.
To open out my stance.
To protect myself,
To allow for required spread,
This swagger that I had to develop,
To play this part,
And regurgitate such horrors.
The bile has risen in my throat at points,
Sick at myself for these words I must spew forth,
Once spoken by another,
A respectable gentleman.
I decided to replace the socks with a symbol.
Some little protest lodged there in my pants.
Helping me to be brave,
To be fearless in my portrayal,
My transformation into another so far removed from my own tender morals.
Because this story is important.
Because we should not be frightened to make these things heard.
Because we unfortunately still need to fight to be trusted.
Image Credit – (c) Luana Burton and Elinor Rowlands