NEWS: Locker Room Talk @ Live Theatre | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Anna Ryder by Richard Kenworthy

The suffragettes flew the banner of ‘deeds not words’; doing, not saying. These women were interested not in making demands, but achieving their aims through action. But, while this implies that the sword might be mightier than the pen, when President Trump was caught on tape saying that his fame allowed him to sexually assault anyone he liked, with his only defence being that it was just “locker room talk,” new debates surrounding the power of words sprung up.

Now, Locker Room Talk – which is at Live Theatre on Wednesday 17th and Thursday 18th April – explores just what these words mean to those who speak them. The writer, Gary McNair, had a very hands-on approach to creating the piece, which has been interpreted for Live Theatre’s production by its director Anna Ryder: “Gary interviewed hundreds of men in male dominated spaces, out of earshot from women, and asked them to talk anonymously about women. Those words have been given to four female actors to perform back.”

If Trump’s language is any sort of standard for “locker room talk,” then we can only imagine what is said day to day in these male-dominated spaces. For Ryder, however, broadcasting these words will hold new power for those who hear them. “One of the empowering things for me is this idea of women infiltrating spaces which they don’t participate in. Hearing these words coming from a woman’s mouth you hear them differently.”

So why put men’s words into women’s mouths? Perhaps we will listen more clearly to these words when they come from the mouths of those they target, instead of turning a blind eye. “Locker room talk for me is about the dismissal of that behaviour as harmless banter. If you only bear witness to one comment, it’s quite easy to dismiss it. It’s the cumulative effect of it on society. But also it’s not about vilifying these men, as if there’s goodies and baddies in this situation. It’s about engaging in this conversation and asking what it says about us and what it says about society.”

If words started this mess, then it’s about time we started the conversation to finish it.

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