Rita Suszek is a Polish-born, London-based writer and performer. Previous work includes solo shows “Fuck It, I’m Thirty” and “F*cking European” (both premiered in Camden Comedy Club, 2017) and rehearsed readings of her short plays “Girlfag” and “My Country (That I Live In”).
Calm Down Dear: Big Bang 2
Mon 22 Jan at 7:30pm – Tickets can be booked here
Hello. My name is Rita Suszek and I make art. In recent times I’ve been making stand-up comedy shows (“Fuck It I’m Thirty” and “F*cking European” both premiered in 2017, with the latter having a run coming up in February as part of Stronger Than Fear festival); I also do a fair share of improvised performance, mostly with my team Queer Improv. In general doing comedy is fairly natural to me: I often use it to deal with heavier topics in life and it’s both a preferred medium and a coping mechanism of sorts.
But during Calm Down Dear’s Big Bang 2 you will be seeing a scratch of my play “Five Dresses I Never Wear”, which tackles two major fears I have: scripted performance and the vulnerability of taking myself seriously.
“Five Dresses I Never Wear” is about dealing with femininity – highs, lows and everything in between. Between beauty duty, harassment, judgement and resulting feelings of shame and inadequacy… how do we find room to breathe in the space marked “female”?
To further complicate matters, no two people are the same – certainly no two women. And yet we struggle with similar demons at times, remnants of society and upbringing. Fear, shame, body, voice, desire, being desired. Being harassed. Being scared to occupy space. Being a girl or a woman is not a walk in the park – unless the park is dark and there are footsteps behind you. And if it is in fact sunny, there will be a poster outlining your inadequacy on every tree.
This play has been almost three years in the making. When I played the first scratch of it, called “Safe”, it was a jumble of texts on various topics (immaculate conception and pregnancy scares! Wondering if I’m queer! Questioning femininity! Homophobia in Poland!), heavily interspersed with self-aware commentary on stage fright.
It took a year to write the monologue about dresses, and another before I realised it was the same play, trying to find a space to honour both how foreign my body felt to me and the little girl I remembered myself as.
When I came up with the title “Five Dresses I Never Wear”, I wanted to make it a show about women you never let yourself become. What have you given up? Where is the line you can’t cross? What is it that “ladies can’t do”? When did you stop pursuing yourself and start pursuing Being a Perfect Woman? Or being Not That Kind Of Girl?
In fact, as the play has been emerging, it is about the women I became and the ones I feared becoming. All of them are imperfect. All of them are struggling with patriarchy, trying to survive and thrive in their own way, and sometimes becoming a part of it. Have you heard of that metaphor of a tree trying to grow around a steel pole? It is used for abusive families, but it fits patriarchy as well: human beings twisting around, trying to function despite the disturbance. This is us. This is me. Is there another way? Telling the story is only the first step.