feminaust chats with Simone French and Cait Spiker of Hersteria –  the show that’s taking the Fringe Festival by flamingo-covered, pineapple-scented storm.

Hersteria press photo 1

1.  Tell us what your show is about. Did you draw on real life experiences?

Cait: The show is about the neuroses of women, and how we constantly compare, judge and compete with each other to feel better about ourselves. Sim came to me a few days before Fringe applications were due and said “I want to do a show with you, about us” and then we just went from there.

Sim: Originally we were going to examine female sexuality throughout the centuries, but then we started looking at our own experiences and drawing from the funny and ridiculous things we do and see around us…and we realised that this was far more exciting and relevant for us to explore. Even if people don’t relate to the show, at least we can say we were honest and called on our experiences.

2.  Hersteria draws heavily on pop culture and explores themes such as motherhood, body image, social media and competition between women. Do you think that social media provides a positive connection with other women or encourages the kind of destructive competition we see in your show?

Cait: The increase in social media and technology has given us a greater platform to share ideas and have our voices heard, but like anything it has a dark side as well. Through it, we are constantly reviewing and comparing each other’s lives.

Sim: Yes, I’m definitely guilty of these things. In the performing arts industry, we’re always told, “You’re in control of how you present yourself, so be the best version of yourself”. I’m constantly worrying about that and am often comparing my own body to celebrities’ bodies. I think we are also fed the idea that a well-rounded successful woman is one who has a career and a family. We nutted this out a lot in our process. I also see so many instagram and youtube clips and ask myself, “what kind of women are we trying to be”? Are we trying to be submissive Barbie-like women (like Lana Del Rey) or this badass bitch thing with the “I don’t give a fuck” attitude like Rihanna in ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’

3.  What does feminism mean to you? Do you consider yourselves feminists?

Cait: Feminism has gone through so many waves and varying degrees that I get too confused and can’t relate to it anymore. I see myself as an equalist – I don’t think there should be any difference between us regardless of gender, race or sexuality. Many people would see that as feminism, but I don’t.

4.  Did you set out to write a feminist show?

Cait: I think feminism can be a scary word for some people and rather off-putting- so we were hesitant. There was a point when we were developing the show, where I was like “I think this is really insulting to women…” but it’s not, it just shines a mirror on women. A lot of people have come away from the show saying “I do that!” And I think that’s the point. Sim: I definitely felt uncomfortable about labelling the show with this word. I’ve always seen feminism as something that I would need a degree in, in order to call myself one! It wasn’t until our mentor Cathy Hunt reassured us that our show was a valid, satirical feminist perspective, that I felt more comfortable using it. We had an audience member ask, are you critiquing these issues or offering a solution? I think the show is more of a discussion rather than an answer.

5.  What has been your experience of the Melbourne theatre industry as young women? Do you find you face challenges?

Sim: There aren’t always a lot of main roles out there for women. Mainstream theatre has mostly male-dominated storylines. It’s rare to have a female-heavy cast or female protagonist. That’s a real challenge for our futures! That’s partly why it was so empowering to write Hersteria.

6. Are there times when it is advantageous being women?

Sim: A lot of female roles can be quite conservative. I think if you can have a voice that’s a bit quirky, bold and even a bit grotesque, like we do in our show, it can set your work apart.

7.   Do you think it’s different in the emerging/fringe/alternative theatre scene? Do you find the Fringe Festival supportive of women and feminist works?

Cait: Definitely! The Fringe has been great! The independent scene is awesome because you can say what you want, when you want and how you want, and no subscriber is going to get in your face about it.

Sim: Yes – a lot of the shows on offer this year are written, directed or performed by women, and there are lots of events at the Fringe Hub hosted by women too. I just wish you would see more of that in the mainstream theatre scene. Why does that have to be an alternative or deliberate choice to showcase a female perspective?  This should be the norm.

Photo Credit: Tom Halls

This entry was posted in Uncategorized by MsElouise. Bookmark the permalink.

About MsElouise

MsElouise is a community programs worker and feminist from Melbourne Australia. She likes to travel, write, rant and make people feel uncomfortable about their assumptions. She hopes to one day be remembered for changing the world just a little bit. Right now she does this by proving that teenage girls are a higher order of beings.

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