WAITING FOR SHARK WEEK
BATS Theatre, The Random Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington
13/03/2020 - 17/03/2020
A brand-new feminist comedy show
Vagimir and Estrogen are stuck in the Patriarchy waiting for the arrival of Equality. Prepare yourself for: silly sketches, fun clowns, vignettes of old Hollywood films or classic plays reimagined to give womxn agency and make stuff pass the Bechdel test.
“I would see the sh*t out of that.” George Fowler
We’ll explore how some dead men (#notalldeadmen) impose their sexism from beyond the grave and deconstruct reasons like “women don’t have prostates and couldn’t portray the characters accurately”. If only Beckett had known that womxn can pee too.
Despite the feminist shows and performance/creative opportunities for womxn*, theatres still keep putting on canonical works that exclude these very same people (to name one, Waiting for Godot). Why? Why perform those shows anymore? And why can’t we do them too? This show challenges that in a funny and clever way.
*this is not a typo! ‘womxn’ is an alternative term for the English ‘women’, coined in 1971 at UC Davis: “…‘womxn’ is finished in an endeavour to stress the concept that womxn are their own separate individuals… The new orthography is… seen as intersectional, because it is supposed to incorporate transgender womxn, womxn of color, womxn from Third World countries, and each different self distinguishing womxn out there.” – Content credit: Knotty Vibes
We want to have fun with our feminism; we want to put up a show that addresses past and present misogyny and queerphobia, but we want to play, laugh, and bring joy to others while doing it.
You don’t have to be a womxn or identify within the LGBTQIA+ team to have a good time at Waiting for Shark Week. If you’re a straight, white, cis-man, we’d love to have you too.
May contain traces of blood. BYO moon cup.
Featuring: Stevie Hancox-Monk, Maggie Leigh White, Pippa Drakeford-Croad and, in her New Zealand debut, critically acclaimed Canadian actor Sarah Bergbusch.
BATS Theatre, The Random Stage
13 – 17 March 2020
8:30pm except Sunday at 7:30pm
Full Price $22
Group 6+ $20
Concession Price $17
Addict Cardholder $15
The Random Stage is fully wheelchair accessible; please contact the BATS Box Office by 4.30pm on the show day if you have accessibility requirements so that the appropriate arrangements can be made. Read more about accessibility at BATS.
Lighting and operation by Isadora Lao
Theatre , Sketch , Comedy , Clown ,
Potently pertinent satire
Review by John Smythe 14th Mar 2020
Shark Week? Not the Discovery Channel’s annual event. It’s urban argot for the week a woman has her period. The publicity for Waiting for Shark Week pitches it thus: “Vagimir and Estrogen are stuck in the Patriarchy waiting for the arrival of Equality.” (Since that was written I think ‘equity’ has become the preferred term.)
Setting the stage, Maggie Leigh White riffs rudely on Samuel Beckett’s Act 1 stage directions. Estragon’s boot problem is replaced by the struggle Pippa Drakeford’s Estrogen is having with her Moon Cup. Stevie Hancox-Monk’s Vagimir ponders Estrogen’s “Nothing to be done” and concludes not everything has been tried so the struggle must be resumed.
How I would love to see this potently pertinent parody played out in full – by this ideal cast! But this sketch show’s fourth performer, Canadian Sarah Bergbusch, delivers a classic complaint that it lacks nuanced existentialism. And throughout the hour-long show – counterpointing more excellent snippets from Waiting for Shark Week – we are treated to readings of actual letters from the Beckett Estate refusing various applications to produce Waiting for Godot with women playing Vladimir and Estragon, citing laughable reasons. It’s not out of copyright until 2039 so wait we must … or must we?
They don’t mention that 45 years ago a Wellington production slipped under the radar in what may well have been a world first. Just over the road from BATS, at what was then Downstage Theatre, the Come Together Festival ’75 included a late-night Jean Betts-directed Waiting for Godot with an all-woman cast: Domini Searell (Estragon), Alannah O’Sullivan (Vladimir), Susan Wilson (Pozzo), April Kelland (Lucky) and Yvonne McKay (a Girl).
Be they witches or astronauts, peasants or queens, women have bled forever but attempts to discover how menstruation was managed through time fall foul of recorded HIStory’s burying HERstory. An acrostic poem sums up P A T R I A R C H Y and a series of eviscerating audition vignettes reveal what it’s like to be a woman in theatre.
A wacky game show called ‘What’s in the Womb?’ is revealing. Stevie Hancox-Monk transforms remarkably to bring us old Walter and his plaintive song of paranoia, asserting that no-one knows what it’s like to be a white man, straight and a Boomer.
The arts-funding gate-keepers are characterised as posh women using a flow chart to determine whether The Feminist Theatre Troupe’s application should be granted. Hancox-Monk (who played a memorable Hamlet last year) auditions for Prince Hal and precipitates rampant banter about feminist takes on Shakespeare – largely lifted from online reactions to last year’s widespread outrage at the Pop-up Globe’s use of the #MeToo and #Timesup movements to promote an all-male production of The Taming of the Shrew.
Character notes for female roles – including Jane, Rebecca, Mrs Mason, in something: should we recognise it? – are squirm-inducing. A Bechdel Test game applied to popular movies produces very surprising results. No wonder Maggie Leigh White is moved to declare she “will not be reduced to a socially acceptable fetish.”
Her prone Pozzo-esque plea for help, and Vagimir and Estrogen’s inability to realise their own capacity for self-actualisation, determination and agency, leave us with plenty to ponder as the closing song lifts our spirits and brings the show to an end.
Waiting for Shark Week is potently pertinent satire for which you should not wait to book.
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