Muse: Part One
The Legacy of Pygmalion: Woman as the Art not the Artist.
So here’s a poem of mine called Muse, originally written as part of the text used in a performance with Curious Doings Theatre Company as part of their production The Things People Say at the Lyric Theatre. It was a bit of a mad ride as we had to put the show together in a week. It explored what people say and the impact their words can have on themselves, those around them, and the wider society. From famous speeches to local gossip, the show looked at our relationship to language and the power of words. One of my favourite moments was inspired by the term “mud-slinging”, meaning when insults and accusations are used to damage someone’s reputation. It involved literally slinging soil from our handbags at one of the actresses while hanging different signs around her neck. The signs highlighted the different labels we typically use on women from bossy to slut to prude etc. The show was bold and messy and had a lot to say, sometimes with words and sometimes with silence.
With devised theatre, what you make is always affected by who you have in the room, perhaps more than most forms of theatre. This time there happened to be four actresses. Maybe it’s this that got me thinking about how women have often been placed in the role of the muse and not the artist; how we are seen to inspire the words of men; how there has been many more published plays written by men than women. It is men’s words that have been heard and celebrated more often than women’s. Throughout the poem I use historical, literary and pop culture references examining how women have often been placed in the role of the muse. What happens when women are considered not the artist but pieces of art to be gazed at? What happens when women start internalising this?
Have a read or listen to my poem above and join me in this series, updated every Wednesday, which examines the references and themes that I touch upon in my poem ,“Muse”, in further detail. Part two coming out next week. I’d love to hear your thoughts or any reflections/ ideas this post might have inspired.