the trouble with today's women
After finishing Teeth Have A Memory, I was reluctant to use autobiography in any more of my work mainly because of how debilitating and emotionally draining it can feel. The Trouble With Today's Women presented itself as a brilliant opportunity for MZL Productions (my theatre and film production company) to collaborate with Bread Theatre and Film Company at The University of Cambridge to write, direct, and perform the first-ever devised piece of theatre at The ADC. I did this as an Artist-in-Residence and we still had to adhere to strict COVID19 rules so the added challenge was collaborating over Zoom, then eventually rehearsing in a space together and performing on stage with social distancing, of course.
The wonderful thing about devising is that the pressure to do-it-all gets taken away. The writing process was a collaboration and as a director I encouraged all chosen participants to truly find their voice, and say what they really wanted to say. This resulted in a considerable amount of autobiographical material coming to the table, and in my case (since I performed in this piece as well), I chose to discuss the abortion I had, which left me with long-term complicated feelings that I never realised I would have to reckon with. Ultimately each woman (it was an all-female cast, just like Teeth) shared monologues and scenes that outlined some personal trouble of theirs and demanded it be recognised for its contemporary significance.
Whilst I have now made a promise to discontinue using autobiographical material in my work Trouble will always remain special as it was a tribute to my decision, to my unborn child whom I love dearly, and will one day meet, and also, because it enabled me to continue living in Britain, which is inextricably tied to the decision and much more. I fought a long and challenging immigration case to gain the right to work and live in the UK without restrictions and this came with sacrifice, which is similar to the sacrifice I made when I decided what to do with my body. I don't regret the decision; however, the fact that it feels like a loss is something no one discusses. The loss lies in the knowledge that you may never fully be accepted for your decisions, that you are enduring the brutality of judgment, that your honesty may banish you from certain places, that the lack of an option would have changed the course of your life so dramatically that you couldn't even imagine what you would do. That's why, if possible, it is best to make sure you have options, in case it doesn't work out.
In case you end up being unaccepted.
That's an extremely painful reality to be confronted with and I wanted this situation, which is not unique to me, to be public. To break the silence that I know too many women silently suffer the consequences of.
That's why this piece was so important to me and that's all I'll say for now.
A big thank you to the lovely women who through this work of art made me feel normal, humanised, and understood. They are featured in the photographs above alongside the poster of the show in black and white.