STLN staff writer Natalie Lifson ’21 chats with Zoe Lesser ’19, director of our second lab of the semester, Alice Birch’s Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.
NL: What is the core of the play about?
ZL: It is about how we confront injustices based on gender and how we go about changing them and the failure of language to grapple with attaining what we need and how to fix it.
NL: Why do you think it’s important, and what makes it relevant to the world we live in today?
ZL: I think this piece is particularly important because each scene begins with an instruction and a suggestion as to how to achieve it. I feel like we often get very lost in how to go about provoking change and following very specific examples. Setting goals that are attainable is a very effective way of provoking change. This is relevant to the world today because I think people freeze and don’t know what to do when something’s wrong. We’re told to call senators, but that hasn’t appeared to make any change; the change promoted in this play is not about the macro level, but about how if we can change our daily interactions just a little bit, it can produce waves. There’s a lot of inherited trauma in the show. It tells us that once we heal ourselves, we can begin to do the work to make the world a better place. When I’m in class, I notice that women apologize a lot. They always take two minutes to preface what they’re about to say before they say it, like “oh sorry this is probably wrong but-“ or “I don’t know if this is right but-.“ I think this show just shows women acting uninhibitedly, unapologetically, and that is something the world should see right now.
NL: Can you tell me a bit about your directing process?
ZL: We requested the cast to bring in moments in which they destroy something, which they all shared, and we tried to see how those moments fit into different parts of the show. We have these transitions that bring scenes into other scenes, and I’m trying to use those as a way to further explore the contents of the scenes and what women can destroy in them and what women can change in them. We explored moments of destruction to see how else beyond words we can express anger. A lot of the play is about the failure of language and what we do when words aren’t enough, so we explored that physically. We explored the idea of showing destruction without words in the hopes that that might be a more expressive, clear way of communicating.
NL: What do you hope an audience will get out of this?
ZL: The point of the show is to shock people into taking action. I hope that audience members are indeed shocked by what they see, but also notice that a really small adjustment can go a long way. I think in a lot of the scenes there is a failure to confront what’s going on, where at least one person in the scene wants to address an elephant in the room, something that has hurt them, something that is actively hindering their life experience, and there is always someone in the room who doesn’t want to acknowledge it. I think a big part of the show is the change that can happen when we all address that something is wrong.
NL: Why did you choose this show?
ZL: It handles really serious subject matter with a biting sense of humor. I was personally drawn to the tactics posed by the scene titles. A lot of feminist theater has failed me by giving me a very false sense of enlightenment and a false sense of celebration, and I find women destroying things and women working together to be a far more effective way to celebrate women than other feminist theater I’ve seen.
Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. opens tomorrow and runs November 1rd-3rd at 7pm each night in Studio A of the JKB. Admission is free! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm your attendance.
Natalie Lifson ’21 is a staff writer for the Living Newsletter