Five self-identified non-men interrogate the tropes of womanhood, the limits and pressures of gender and the political ramifications of their bodies, built from a research process of interviews and workshops. Pussyfooting rehearses the core concerns of contemporary feminism, of the positions taken and opinions thrown on University campuses, internet message boards and in the corner boxes of broadsheets who should do better. It smartly favours autobiography, keeping the focus on the lives of the performers and their peers, a policy that sacrifices some intersectional awareness in favour of personal authenticity. The piece questions the expectations of family and schoolmates, highlights the difficulty and necessity of gender assertion and enjoys the community found amongst university peers through the first steps of the development of an artistic practice.
Pussyfooting addresses tropes of female identity in meme-like fashion, short humorous moments of insight that survey the depressingly vast catalogue of problems perpetrated by a clueless culture of patriarchy. Any one of the issues referenced might be a full show; the intolerance and misunderstanding of sexual orientation, the disempowerment of women even over the agency of their clothing choices (seen so vividly and disturbingly now in France’s burkini ban) or the deft undermining of women’s voices as authoritative or knowledgeable about ‘male’ subjects. Similarly, the show enacts a challenge of the logical fallacy that a woman is defined by female genitals, or periods, or not having a penis. As the fringe happens this year in the shadow of the Rio Olympics, the interrogation of gender and identity is brought into sharper relief by the shameful questioning of South African sprinter Caster Semenya’s fitness to race by pundits and the press. The performers encourage the audience to question uncritical assumptions of fixed biological definition by referencing women who identify as such without adhering to prescribed biology or meaningless societal conventions. (LC)
Pussyfooting is on at 20.10 at Paradise in the Vault until August 28th. Wheelchair Acces, Level Access, Wheelchair Accessible Toilets, Relaxed Performances - https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/pussyfooting
Knotworks Theatre: http://knotworksox.tumblr.com
Burkini Ban/Clothing Agency: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/burkini-swimwear-ban-france-nice-armed-police-hijab-muslim-a7206776.html
Understanding the Caster-Semenya Controversy: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/20/sports/caster-semenya-800-meters.html?_r=0
The Sporting Spectacle (Jennifer Doyle), Capturing Semenya: https://thesportspectacle.com/2016/08/16/capturing-semenya/