CAMILLA, CAT AND JULES

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CAMILLA, CAT and JULES

Written & performed by Shelley Draper

Directed by Laura Jasper

Additional material and direction from Becky Matter

Voice of Melvyn: Michael Kenneth Stewart

 

Intro: In which Shelley chats about audience participation and feminism in theatre

Camilla: A meeting room at Westminster. It’s the inaugural meeting of the Independent Body of Parliamentary Employee Harassment Claims (IBOPEHC), of which Camilla is the head

Cat: Cat, an American florist, is in her flower Shop called ‘Pussy Willows Flowers’ in a suburb of Hollywood

Jules: A Dancersize class in Leeds. The leader, Jules, arrives late with some news – an argument ensues

 

2017 – The Weinstein scandal breaks, MeToo and Time’s Up movements born. Fallon resigns from government for “touching someones knee”. A new wave of feminism begins (is this one the fourth or the fifth? I’m losing count now) – It’s SO effective that the USA elects a pussy grabber for president. 
2019 – The dust has settled, dried in the intense heat of 2018, been pissed on and turned into sludge. 3 very different women are wading through it.
3 monologues, born out of an actress responding in character whilst all the furore was ‘kicking off’. Stupid and poignant. It’s quite funny actually.

 

I always knew I had a one woman show burning up inside me and was working on poetry and comedy scripts… until October of 2017 when the Weinstein scandal broke. Shortly after, Fallon resigned from Government and we realised that parliament had it’s problems too. The surrounding media furore, voices and opinions, and my shouted response to all of that – most of the time assuming characters!, was the catalyst I needed to kick my arse into gear. So, I wrote my characters; Camilla, Cat and Jules, their own monologues.

As I explain in the intro, I felt I had a duty to add my voice and personal experience to the Me Too and Times Up movements, but didn’t want to ‘Rant’ or hit an audience over the head with a message. That approach more often than not has the detrimental, counterproductive effect of turning people away from a subject matter. However, neither did I want to trivialise the issues – a difficult tightrope to walk along.

Comedy is my attempt to create more accessible theatre whilst at the same time exploring both my own feelings and helping an audience to explore and examine theirs. I love theatre but feel that it can sometimes be so middle class and intellectualised that it can leave some audience members feeling bored, confused and alienated. I don’t think that’s helpful at this pivotal time in history and think that we should be grabbing with both hands this opportunity to create art that enables discussion for all, about the issues around relationships and equality.

 

The story so far: 

The show has currently had 2 outings, one at the Leicester Comedy Festival on 11th February 2019 and as part of the Party Somewhere Else Festival at the Nottingham Playhouse on Saturday 18th May 2019

 

Audience Feedback Nottingham 18th May 2019:

  • Absolutely loved it. A light hearted deep dive into women’s stories of sexual harassment. It felt like the stage was full of characters!
  • Rich comic strip of 3 women cleverly drawn
  • The art of storytelling and performance is in the building!
  • Absolute funny rollercoaster performance
  • The best theatrical take on MeToo I’ve seen
  • Brilliant one woman show – Loved it!

 

Development: 

  • 20th January 2018 – One of the monologues, ‘American Actress’ (developed into ‘Cat’) was performed as a work-in-progress scratch performance at The Party Somewhere Else Open House in Nottingham, with some great useful feedback.
  • 26th January 2018 – Research session with 3 young female performers (ages 18- 25) at the Television Workshop in Nottingham, as I was thinking of writing a fifth monologue from a younger womans perspective. After the session I considered aiming to involve as many different women as possible to perform the monologues (in terms of ages, ethnicity & background) – like a ‘Me Too Monologues’ (akin to the Vagina Monologues…), perhaps.
  • 13th March 2018  – The piece as a whole was read aloud and discussed at the Women Writers Group (of which I’m a member), based at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham, and edited.
  • 25th March 2018 – The piece as a whole was then performed (again as a script-in-hand, work-in- progress scratch) at The Attenborough Arts Centre in Leicester, from which I gained some more vital feedback. I then decided that, for the time being, I should concentrate on making it an excellent one woman show.
  • 10th May 2018 – ‘Dancersize’ (developed into ‘Jules’) was performed at the first AMP night at The Nottingham Playhouse, for East Midlands based artists with shows to develop.
  • 8th June 2018 – ‘Camilla’ read aloud at the Derby Theatre Play Shuffle event
  • 23rd June 2018 – ‘Camilla’ was performed at the ‘In Good Company’ scratch night at Derby Theatre.
  • 1st Oct 2018 – Show renamed ‘Camilla, cat and Jules’ (a one woman show entitled ‘That Girl’ Already exists and is touring!), and accepted at the Leicester Comedy Festival in February 2019

Feedback from forms after 25th March 2018 scratch performance

1. How did the piece as a whole leave you feeling and why?

  • Exhilarated, liked the variety
  • Still need to change how men see women
  • Explorative, Challenging, Funny, Thought provoking
  • I found it humorous but also serious and I would like to look into this more. It did make me feel that there are a lot of different opinions about the subject
  • Feeling rounded. True
  • Educated. Empowered
  • Thought provoked
  • Dramatic & relevant acknowledgment of issues surrounding still a very contested & evolving issue

2. Which was your favourite monologue and why?

  • I liked the Dancersize instructor v much & the confusion many people feel about the issues
  • Camilla – more clear about women? very comedic!! characterisation is a lot clearer, and gives more of an understanding of women
  • Dancersize – Love the way you explore both sides of the ‘abuse’ argument; – is it?, is it not? Makes you challenge your opinions & reactions from past decisions
  • Camilla – I enjoyed the characters sense of humour & mannerisms. I liked the subject.
  • Dancersize – Liked interaction with audience. Confusion. Struggle
  • Camilla – This was my favourite because of the political stance, and the involvement of men. Also, the effect of a position of power. (Dancersize was most relatable though)
  • Dancersize – Comedy but punchy. Lighthearted but raw. I loved this because I can relate to the working class
  • Dancersize – Great mannerisms. It’s the only one with an element of ambiguity

3. Could you identify specific themes connecting all four monologues? If so, what?

  • THAT Girl is the theme. The different ways women & girls get to be shamed by exposing abuses. I liked its  understatement. Can’t wait to see it as it develops & without script
  • Identity of women/ roles of women. How women are still not equal! About women getting sexually harassed
  • THAT Girl – but make it a greater moment – more emphasis on the theme
  • Gender equality & sexual harassment & the attitudes towards these issues from different backgrounds / classes
  • Frustration. Unsureness. Awareness. Slight guilt? Conflicted. Relatable
  • Different types of feminism. THAT Girl – in different positions
  • Feminism
  • There is something about cliches or fear of being a cliche (THAT Girl/ woman)

For more information, or just more discussion – please feel free to contact me by email: smelbyd@gmail.com or on Twitter @smelbyd

And here’s something to leave you with…

A sample of quotes from people in the public eye used during research & writing…

Jo Brand (on HIGNFY) “It doesn’t have to be high level for women to feel under siege in somewhere like the House of Commons and actually for women if you’re constantly being harassed, even in a small way, that builds up and that wears you down.”

Uma Thurman “I don’t have a tidy soundbite for you. Because I’ve learned I am not a child and I’ve learned that when I’ve spoken in anger I usually regret the way I express myself. So I’ve been waiting to feel less angry and when I’m ready I’ll say what I have to say.”

Michael Gove “Sometimes I think that coming into the studio with you John, is a bit like going into Harvey Weinsteins bedroom. Just pray that you emerge with your dignity intact”, Neil Kinnock “John goes way past groping, way past groping”

James Corden “Tonight is so beautiful, Harvey Weinstein has already asked tonight up to his hotel to give him a massage.” “I don’t know whether that groan was that you liked that joke? or you don’t like that joke? if you don’t like that joke you should probably leave now” (because I’m just gonna keep on doing it whether you like it or not) ! “It has been weird this week though hasn’t it, watching Harvey Weinstein in hot water. Ask any of the women who watched him take a bath – it’s weird watching Harvey Weinstein in hot water. Harvey Weinstein wanted to come tonight but he’ll settle for whatever potted plant is closest.

Kathryn Bigelow “If there’s specific resistance to women making movies, I just choose to ignore that as an obstacle for two reasons; I can’t change my gender, and I refuse to stop making movies”

Anon “‘Rape Culture’ isn’t some millennia, man-hating buzz term. It simply describes how society’s acceptance of certain behaviours encourage a specific type of criminal activity”

Scott Rosenberg “Everybody-fucking-knew” (full article definitely worth reading)

 

Since October 2017

In Westminster:

By March 2018, Parliaments’ ‘Independent Complaints and Grievance Policy’ had been set up. The three groups (with many diverse members) working to achieve this were:

  • The ICGP Working group (Est Nov 2017)
  • The IGCP Steering Group (Est Feb 2018)
  • The IGCP Programme Board (Est Mar 2018)

 

In Hollywood:

Weinstein is currently facing criminal charges on five counts of sexual abuse, including rape, relating to two accusers – charges he denies. He also faces a number of civil cases, including one brought by the actress Ashley Judd, one of his earliest accusers. He formally pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Weinstein has admitted in the past that his behaviour has “caused a lot of pain”, but denies any non-consensual sex and has described many allegations against him as “patently false”

Source: BBC.co.uk/news, 10th Jan 2019

 

Everywhere:

  • The MeToo hashtag went ballistic on Twitter and the Times Up Movement was born.Women marched in hundreds of US cities and overseas on 19 Jan 2019 to mark the second anniversary of demonstrations that drew millions of protesters to the streets the day after Trump’s inauguration in Jan 2017.
  • ‘Influencers’ on social media, youtube and similar platforms grow increasingly popular and continue to literally influence young girls and boys. About ANYTHING and EVERYTHING.
  • David Mamet (a man) has written a play about Weinstein (a man), which will star John Malkovich (a man), and receives its world premiere in London’s West End in June 2019.