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Batch Festival 2019

"we can progress into becoming a stronger community"

She can’t light a real fire at the Stables but Aanisa Vylet hopes to kindle a metaphorical one during her new show.

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Sauvage (WILD)

Date: 3 May 2019

“It is time to celebrate the feminine. Unapologetically. It is time to experiment further.

Just after I had shared the first draft of The Girl at two local theatres in Barcelona, I vividly remember walking the cobbled streets on my own, feeling quite confounded. I couldn’t help but wonder:

Who am I beyond my religious and cultural background?

Who am I beyond my socialisation?

I felt so at home in Spain. I performed my play in Spanish though I am not Spanish. I felt that there was more to me than my immediate cultural identity and religious background but I could put no words to my thoughts. So, I kept quiet with these questions and I kept walking on.

Soon after, I happened upon a tiny shop in Las Ramblas. It featured faded silver jewellery. I was drawn to a headpiece with indigo jewels and tiny geometric shapes.

The shop owner explained that the women who lived in ancient Andalusia used to wear these pieces as part of their daily attire.

I tried it on. My facial features seemed fit with it. It awoke something in me. A sense of calm. A sense of freedom.

The only word that came to mind to describe this feeling was ‘wild’, ‘Salvaje’, ‘Sauvage’… I called on a Spanish photographer and friend of mine and we embarked on a photoshoot to explore what a ‘wild women’ was (ideally without me running naked through a forest).

That was five years ago.

Since then that question has continued to flick through my mind like the tail end of a dream.

I am not ashamed of my background. I am not ashamed that I have two names (one as an artist and one as a person). I am not ashamed of my identity. But I do feel trapped by labels and roles and stereotypes of what I am supposed to be as a woman and an artist from my background. I feel at home in many places. I speak a four languages and they all feel familiar in some way. I know not what I am … So why should I take on the perception of others?

So with all this in mind, I began to reframe my question. Instead of asking ‘who am I?’, I began to ask, ‘who were we?’ and ‘who were we as women beyond our religion, culture and socialisation?’

I discovered myth. I discovered that women were the original myth makers. They used to travel around villages and tell stories to its inhabitants. Stories that could heal them. Stories that could protect them. They used to foretell the future. They were revered storytellers. I discovered all this through Marina Warner’s book, From the Beast to the Blonde and from the many wonderful conversations with my dramaturg, Donna Abela.

Furthermore, I learned that this all changed when the patriarchy came into power. Women were no longer allowed to tell stories. Their stories were translated by men, who morphed them to suit patriarchal views and then took the credit.

Gradually women were not allowed to be their own storytellers. Myths were re-written to suit patriarchal views of women and we’ve been trying to pick out the lining of these stories from our skins for centuries. Can we make this process easier and a much less painful one?

I believe we can, by creating new myths, new stories and new ways of being once again – ones that include men and, at the same time, challenge the current norms of women’s roles and men’s roles.

There needs to be a balance of femininity and masculinity in both sexes, not an exclusion of either. Many people are currently doing this in our arts industry and by creating Sauvage, we aim to add to this dialogue.

In the creation of this play, I have realised the stories I need to tell relate to and draw on the messy truth that exists around me.

These issues are not just my story, but our story as women and men who exist in a world that favours masculinity. It is happening right here, right now in cultural sensibility of our times. Our ‘collective consciousness’ is dealing with the issue even if we are not presently sharing it on our stages. Such issues need to be aired out so we can progress into becoming a stronger community.

I feel the best way for us to speak about these issues on a universal level is through primal storytelling. We can’t light a fire at the Stables but we hope to light metaphorical ones. We aim to point to that dark place of our collective psyche and we aim to have fun doing so.

I have never enjoyed working on a project as much as I have enjoyed working on Sauvage.

Perhaps it has been the many teas and conversations.

Perhaps I have just been so happy to finally feel free within myself as an artist because I now understand my right to process and self-care (thanks Donna, Shy, Vyv, Eva and Camilla).

I have also realised that creating work should be enjoyable. If we don’t have pleasure in what we are doing, the audience isn’t going to enjoy it either.

We would like to personally invite you to step into this world with us. We will only know what the work is once it is before you.

It is time to experiment further.

Unapologetically.

It is time to celebrate the femininity in us all.”

Sauvage (WILD) plays Batch Festival, May 8-11

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