This is the manifesto for Persistent & Nasty, “a script-reading, debate and art as activism initiative for women and gender minorities in the stage and screen industries.”
“Hope for the Future”
Having learnt much and really enjoyed myself at a Persistent and Nasty event at last year’s Fringe, I was absolutely delighted to be asked to take part in their “Hope for the Future” evening! This was recorded live at the CCA in Glasgow and is available now: you can watch it here.
The event involved two rehearsed readings of short scripts by Jerusha Green and Tamara von Werthern, followed by a Q&A with guest speaker Dawn Sievewright and the actors, including Elaine Stirrat and Misha McCullagh of Persistent and Nasty.
Run by Civil Disobedience, “Persistent and Nasty is a script-reading, debate and art as activism initiative for the female-identified voice in stage and screen...Our goal is to create a project that is safe and supportive, but that is also an act of protest. Persistent and Nasty is about changing the cultural narrative through the stories we tell.”
Discussions from the “Hope for the Future” event include what makes a strong female character, differences between generations and cultures in Scotland / UK when it comes to making progress on equality, and what we can do to create the changes we want to see. I found I actually had things to say myself, especially on awareness and what is non-conscious.
I’d love to hear your opinions! What do you feel / think of the plays and the discussion?
Armistice Day of 2018 saw the world premiere of a major adaptation of Karl Kraus’ ‘unperformable’ play The Last Days of Mankind, featuring the Olivier-winning The Tiger Lillies. John Paul McGroarty and Yuri Birte Anderson directed this powerful satire about WWI, much of which was written in Viennese cafes at the time of the conflict.
At Leith Theatre, I joined casts from seven different countries which had been on different sides of the First World War. Now – 100 years later – artists from these allied and opposed lands united to work on creating an immense piece of theatre about the horrors of that war using Kraus’ words, dark humour and song.
This was truly epic theatre, as borne out by reviews (four and five stars) and reactions, some of which you can read here. People returned a number of times to see it, at least one audience member letting me know they had come up from England twice!
We all played a number of roles, but my main one was that of Alice Schalek, the only female war correspondent with the Austro-Hungarian War Press Office. There were three of us, always appearing together, who played this role – just one of the exciting approaches to the play which arose from the work of the different companies and styles brought together.
I also had lines at the very end of this production’s script, spoken by one simply known as ‘Mother’. While lines from a show normally leave my head once I’ve left the production, on this occasion those last words stayed with me – a haunting testimony to their strength and the honour I felt in saying them.
Never, through all the days that you disgrace, will you avert your eyes from this dead face!
And may, when you have ended your descent to hell, this image greet you there as well.
May the splinters of this little one’s skull penetrate your brain and soul!
Long may you live and may you be terrorised through all your nights by this mother’s cries!
The Last Days of Mankind by Karl Kraus, translated by Patrick Healy
A powerful anti-war play, indeed.
A few responses to the production…
“spectacular… a series of stunning images to illustrate the text… a mighty theatrical feat” The Herald – Neil Cooper
“a thrilling sense of occasion and momentum… a biting, superbly-performed score… huge, brilliantly-blended visual images of the war” The Scotsman – Joyce McMillan
“a musical and artistic triumph… Hard hitting and impactful… several scenes brought a lump to the throat and the last 20 minutes of the play are worth the ticket price alone” Commonspace – Professor John Davis
“powerful anti-war play… stroke of genius… superb cast… highly relevant” Edinburgh Guide – Irene Brown