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Bleeding Hell! Women in Theatre!

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Abstract

The over representation of women in professional theatre is clearly documented, and yet contemporary British and Irish stages still marginalise the work of women and work about women, as the Waking the Feminist Movement (2017) in Ireland highlighted. Joyce Branagh and Amy Bonsall received Arts Council funding in 2013 to develop an idea for a play, which was inspired by the female experience of the gynaecological condition endometriosis. The working title for the play was Bleeding Hell! Put simply, research and personal experience indicated that there was a desperate need for a production aimed at both women and men that opened a dialogue about endometriosis. While getting funding and support for the initial phase of the work was successful, it proved almost impossible to gain the necessary industry and funding support to allow for the play to be completed and to mount a full production. This chapter explores the reality of how women and their stories are, or rather are more often than not, supported, developed and seen on British and Irish stages. An edited interview of Joyce Branagh, conducted by Amy Bonsall offers a first-hand account of being a writer, and writing about issues that have women at their core within the current theatre landscape. The chapter will illustrate the significant hurdles that face female theatre makers making female-centered work about ‘taboo’ subjects such as menstruation and gynaecological conditions in contemporary Britain. Funding and lack of open dialogue with artistic directors are just two significant factors that prevent such work being made in the mainstream. The only alternative is women working out of goodwill. A familiar and ancient trope that comes with ‘women’s work’!

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-36994-1_5
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Notes

  1. 1.

    “Endometriosis,” nhs.uk, 20 October 2017, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/endometriosis/; “Information | Endometriosis UK,” https://www.endometriosis-uk.org/information, accessed 21 March 2019.

  2. 2.

    Jason M. Mwenda et al., “Future of Endometriosis Research,” 7 February 2017, 647.

  3. 3.

    Mwenda et al.; Sawsan As-Sanie et al., “Assessing Research Gaps and Unmet Needs in Endometriosis,” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 221, no. 2 (1 August 2019): abstract.

  4. 4.

    Paolo Vercellini et al., “Attractiveness of Women with Rectovaginal Endometriosis: A Case-Control Study,” Fertility and Sterility 99, no. 1 (1 January 2013): 212–18.

  5. 5.

    Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, New ed. (London: Vintage Classics, 1997).

  6. 6.

    “About Open Space Technology,” Devoted and Disgruntled, https://www.devotedanddisgruntled.com/about-open-space-technology, accessed 16 March 2019; “Arts Funding—A Women’s Issue? 80% of the People in This Room Are Women D&D,” http://www.devotedanddisgruntled.com/events/devoted-and-disgruntled-why-funding-arts-better-ev/reports/arts-funding-a-womens-issue-80-of-the-people-in-th/, accessed 28 October 2016.

  7. 7.

    Heidi Stephenson, Rage And Reason: Women Playwrights on Playwriting (London: A & C Black, 2014).

  8. 8.

    Katrine Marcal, Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? A Story About Women and Economics (London: Portobello Books, 2015), Prologue.

  9. 9.

    “Equal Writes,” Equal Writes, https://equalwrites.co.uk/, accessed 15 March 2019; Julia Pascal, “Women Are Being Excluded from the Stage: It’s Time for Quotas | Julia Pascal,” The Guardian, 24 April 2018, sec. Opinion, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/24/women-theatre-quotas-stage-gender.

  10. 10.

    Arts Council England, “Equality, Diversity and the Creative Case: A Data Report 2012–2015,” Data Report, 2012–2015, https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/sites/default/files/download-file/Equality_Diversity_and_the_Creative_Case_A_data_report_2012-2015.pdf.

  11. 11.

    “Opening Season Summer 2017,” Storyhouse (blog), https://www.storyhouse.com/two-theatres-one-roof, accessed 16 March 2019.

  12. 12.

    Joyce Branagh , Bleeding Hell! (Unpublished, 2013). Interview edited by Amy Bonsall. For access to the full transcript please contact her directly.

  13. 13.

    Branagh . I must thank Joyce Branagh for her interview and for permission to reprint the section of Bleeding Hell!, which appear within this chapter, and Michael Bonsall-Redston for the transcription of the interview.

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Bonsall, A. (2020). Bleeding Hell! Women in Theatre!. In: Ashton, B., Bonsall, A., Hay, J. (eds) Talking Bodies Vol. II. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-36994-1_5

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