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Guest Blog: Rachel Mariner On The Digital Premiere of Her Play RECOVERING MISOGYNIST

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Reflecting on MeToo, Harvey Weinstein and Bill Clinton

Guest Blog: Rachel Mariner On The Digital Premiere of Her Play RECOVERING MISOGYNIST
Rachel Mariner: Recovering Misogynist

The last time I wrote for BroadwayWorld, it was 2014 and I was talking about Bill Clinton Hercules, my Bill Clinton bioplay. I read that play now and I see how respectful and careful I was to give him the benefit of the doubt, for the character to embody his best self.

In 2014, #MeToo hadn't happened yet and my empathy was drawn to the male authority figure, not the woman he used - even though I myself was a woman who was used. In that play, Monica Lewinsky wasn't quite a person (I'm ashamed to say). In retrospect, it makes sense. I was a good Christian and an ambitious lawyer, and respect for the powerful is part of that terrain.

Then came 2017 and #MeToo happened. I felt sorry for Weinstein, and it was like there was this soft wordless animal inside me electrocuting my joints and prodding me to write down why. I wrote something which is the core of this play now.

I put it on my website.

Lucy Prebble retweeted it, and in her tweet she said she used to think she was a feminist, but really she was only ever a recovering misogynist. Hence the title: the way #MeToo forced some women to reassess their normal. The play was meant for an actor on a stage (specifically the divine Jenny Sheffer-Stevens and the Park Theatre), but between beginning the play and today we have had lockdown (everyone) and a divorce (me), so I decided to accelerate delivery. The show must go on, which is the same thing as saying I must start my new life and this is the start. I'm now a very different playwright than the person who wrote Bill Clinton Hercules. Monica has a more esteemed role now. She's a person and so am I.

Recovering Misogynist captures internal transformation through autobiography, retellings of Bluebeard and magical realism. I moved to London from Washington DC in 2002 and moved to Cambridge in 2007, and the play ricochets between these places, my work with Occupy London and my childhood in upstate New York. It's a revival meeting. It's a series of indictments. It's an expose. There really was a Debra and a Luxembourg verdict and a roomful of men with me on crutches. The part where Mary Beard hosts a dinner party in No Man's Land near the disembowelled remains of the War Horse puppet is fictional.

Recovering Misogynist is confessional and internal, and in that way it suits the digital format of the audience streaming it on a laptop. I'm not an actor, I don't perform it, I read it, and images shot in Cambridge and gleaned from my past are in the background. My favourite footage was shot by Nell Sartain of Twoflix at the Black Lives Matter protest in Parkers Piece, it's amazing. And Steffen Wild, our cinematographer, has a great eye and captured lockdown Cambridge in a way that almost looks like the patriarchy is crumbling.

In some ways, it's totally appropriate that Recovering Misogynist is available to anyone anywhere to stream because the stories cover a lot of ground. In some ways, it's completely inappropriate. This isn't TV; this isn't entertainment - it's a play reading.

David Mamet said, "When you come into a theatre, you have to be willing to say, 'We're all here to undergo a communion, to find out what the hell is going on in this world'." You won't be coming into a theatre, but I am trying to find out what the hell is going on in this world, and I hope you will join me in a virtual communion.

Rachel Mariner: Recovering Misogynist is available to stream via Cambridge Junction on 12 August

Watch a trailer below!


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