November 2012        

Theatre

A play about four women


Sluts: A Play about Stupid Bitches was presented as part of the “10 Days in Dublin” theatre festival in July. The play is about four women, and the action is portrayed and betrayed on the continuum of class: one working class, one middle class, and two non-identified class subjects. The plot explores women’s sexual appetite and the lack of control working-class women have over their sexual endeavours.
      We recognise the class of the characters through the caricatured performance of each individual. The main protagonist (or “stupid bitch,” as the title would suggest) is depicted as a Bolshy, almost barbaric working-class individual, who, despite her ideas about sexual independence, is made out to be a fool only to herself, with a lack of self-control, a self-saboteur.
      The struggle of two of the women is representative of the class struggle within our current social context. We recognise the middle-class subject through her being mocked about her Dublin 4 or Clontarf accent but, more to the point, through her justification of her actions in sleeping with one of the other subjects’ boy-friend, and that this action is merely due to her ideas about self-entitlement. She saw what she wanted, she disregarded her friend’s feelings, got on with the job, and moved on, while our working-class subject got drunk and just took any attention she could get, leaving her in self and moral conflict, searching for reasons to justify and admit that she had done wrong—almost apologising for her ignorant existence.
      The representation of the working class in theatre all too often lacks authenticity and in this case an insult on integrity and a clear misunderstanding of any class ethics. This could be a representation of the lack of genuine working-class art filtering through our theatres. When the working class are portrayed in theatre it is mainly through the spectacle of the middle class, and everything seems so shocking. The working class are studied, subjected, objectified, and portrayed as stereotypical caricatures of themselves.
      There’s a lot to be said for a true understanding of what it means to be working class, and being able to establish art that is representative of the reality, even through the fiction, rather than trying to insist on an understanding of social behaviour.
[MS]

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