‘Untitled Feminist Show’ Turns Feminism Into A Party, Makes People Cry In The Process (NSFW)

By priscilla.frank@huffingtonpost.com (Priscilla Frank)

Young Jean Lee, a playwright known for her unusual tactic of choosing the “worst idea possible” and running with it, has created a piece based on what she considered to be a pretty basic premise — female coded, empowered bodies moving through space.

What she didn’t expect was for this “Untitled Feminist Show” to be dubbed groundbreaking. Happy tears and outrage were not the reactions Lee had anticipated from what she thought was an elemental celebration.

Untitled Feminist Show” features six performers from different artistic backgrounds — from burlesque, dance, and performance art backgrounds — engaged in a bold celebration of the body free from limits, objectification, classification… or clothing. For seventy five minutes the nude performers participate in a muscular, jiggly, bawdy ode to flesh and joy, fashioning a feminist fantasy where bodies can exist free from judgment and shame.

Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Director of Performing Arts at Yerba Buena, explained another unusual aspect of the piece. “It is composed as a play without words,” he told The Huffington Post. “It was about using the body as language and also using body language to change how we speak about gender and its deconstruction.”

As Lee’s production heads to San Francisco this weekend, we reached out to Lee to learn more about what the New Yorker’s Hilton Als called “one of the more moving and imaginative works I have ever seen on the American stage.”

The two immediately noticeable things often mentioned about the show are the fact that there is a lack of language and a lack of clothing. Do you see a connection there as far as limits or boundaries?

The reason for the lack of language and the lack of clothing are sort of related. We found that whenever they wore clothes people would immediately make all kinds of assumptions about how they identified gender-wise. Whatever they wore, that would automatically happen. And we wanted them to be free from any sort of gender identification or labeling. We found the best way to do that was not to wear any clothes at all. Also, the show is a celebration of the possibility of having a female coded body but not feeling constrained to any type of role or behavior because of that.

The reason for the lack of words is, we actually had words at the beginning. But I found that whenever we had words people would have these very academic arguments about feminism that weren’t interesting arguments. Arguments that everybody had already heard before. The point of the show wasn’t to forward some amazing new mind-blowing critical theory about feminism. That wasn’t what the show had to offer so the conversations coming out of the show were not that interesting to me. What was interesting to me was giving the audience an experience that a lot of them might not have had before. And I found the only way to do that was to take out words entirely. Even if there were just a few …read more

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