Look at the Ernest Hemingway Quote: “The world is a fine place and worth fighting for and I hate very much to leave it.” Break it into three parts and write a play based on which part(s) you agree with. for bonus points – be daring^ with your! punctuation!!!!,,,!: Because we!. Want!. To.!! Make!!!!… Up!, our rules!!!,. (but don’t use semi colons because Kurt Vonnegut hates them)
The above is a very simplified detailing of the challenge we were given. It’s one of those challenges I saw after spending all night writing one play, that just made me feel very, very tired. This is it, this is my life now.
But then inspiration hit me whilst I was at work. The first two sections of the quote: The world is a fine place and worth fighting for…” At first I thought about how things in the world are not exactly in the best shape, (mostly because of Trump Shit), but then I realised that this is our world, it’s the only one we’ve got, and it’s a beautiful world that is worth fighting for. That’s when it hit me; a historic moment that has shown people are willing to fight for their place in this beautiful world: The Women’s March. I also felt the best way to represent this in stage format, was to take accounts and responses from those who participated or were effected by the March.
Yup, I went all verbatim again.
A World Worth Fighting For
A note from the Writer.
Ernest Hemingway once said: “The World is a fine place and worth fighting for and I hate very much to leave it.”
This play is inspired by the first two thirds of that quote:
“The world is a fine place and worth fighting for…”
This quote was the inspiration for today’s play, a verbatim piece of theatre that explores the Women’s March that took place on 21st January 2017,
I asked people on social media to send me their thoughts, feelings, and reactions to the women’s marches and what they felt the importance of them was. I got a great response from a variety of women, and their speeches make up the dialogue of the 5 main characters. In order to remain true to them, and to verbatim theatre as a whole, not one word of theirs has been changed.
As part of the 28 Plays Later Challenge, I was only given a day to write this piece, and so was not able to do more research, or collect more accounts from more women, and men. As it stands, I didn’t have enough time to gather as big a response as I would have hoped, but I am hoping this short play will act as a precursor to what I intend to be a full length piece, that will explore the importance of the Women’s March, how it was organised, how it was conveyed in the Media, and most importantly what impact it had on those individuals that took part, and those that watched as the world united to march against a horror that plagues us all. What you are about to read is an abbreviation of what will hopefully turn into a much larger piece.
May I also offer my most sincerest thanks to all those women who came forward and shared their experiences, feelings, and reactions with me in regards to the Women’s March. Thank you for sharing them with me and for allowing me to use them in this piece. I hope I will be able to expand on this and I hope that one day a version of this show may find its way on stage.
The stage is littered with placards, homemade signs, podiums, stands, pussy hats, and other homemade paraphernalia that would have been used during the Women’s March. The props cover the entire stage, except for eight small gaps, which are currently shrouded in darkness.
A voice is heard over the Speakers
Hear our voice!
Lights up on the centre space, on Renee who is holding a Poo Emoji cushion over her face.
Renee: I was too preoccupied with shouting so forgot to take a photo of me while I’m at it, hence here’s me representing our dissent with a giant plush poo face taken by my friend while warming up after Saturday’s amazing and cathartic march which here’s only one pano that I took on my phone – I’m sure better ones will come out of my film camera.
The panoramic photo is projected on the screen behind her.
Here’s also a shot from Oxford Circus, where we did a short sit-in while the bus drivers around us gleefully honked, giving us thumbs up signs as we got up and marched.
The previous photo fades into the one from Oxford Circus.
Spotlight on Becky. Images from the London March are displayed on the screen behind her.
Becky: I always feel a bit passive when it comes to my views and political standing. Verbally of course I’m happy to debate, learn, challenge and lay all this out on the table. But it’s so ephemeral. I wanted to do something that works towards change, although I am fully aware marching or making theatre can’t actually effect change. I wanted to have an experience to be honest. (Excitidly) So I traipsed up to London on Saturday 21st January, solo. Botch sign in hand made out of-of card and a foil roll tube. I suppose I marched to signify that I won’t accept racism, sexism, fascism.
Spotlight on Mon
Mon: I went because I wanted to see the scale of a London march as opposed to the ones I’ve been on in New Zealand. It did, however, make me feel a little complicit in a voice that wasn’t as diverse or welcoming as it could be. Not in a way that means I wouldn’t do it again. But afterwards there were people who didn’t feel like it was an inclusive movement and that worries me.
Spotlight on Rosalyn
Rosalyn: I marched because we must not ever normalize the behavior of a man who brags about sexually assaulting women, especially not now that he has taken high office, and thinks he can get away with anything because he has money and power.
Becky: I won’t accept behaviour and actions that endorse a woman to lose the rights to HER body. I marched for the women and men and people who cannot, who do not have a voice. Instead of speaking for them (because I think sometimes by saying things you actually stand in the way of people instead of standing up for them).
Mon: I wanted to add another body to the scale of bodies marching, another voice to make one loud enough for everyone who thinks that Trump’s views allow them to be sexist and racist will hear it. I wanted to make the kind of behaviour he incites socially unacceptable again, and ethically repellent.
A projection of Trump being sworn in at his inauguration is played on the screen behind them. Renee takes her poo emoji cushion and throws it at the screen, which causes the images to switch back to those of the march.
Renee: There was a guy who came and aggressively barked at us, claiming that a new era of right-wing thinking had dawned, but his voice was quickly drowned out amongst the chanting crowds. So despite an on-coming cold I’ve spent the last two days protesting Donald Trump’s inauguration, for both personal and professional reasons:
Becky: I marched. I marched for future generations so that no one ever feels they are not valued, that they do not have rights, so that they can feel equal. I wanted to feel liberated, I wanted to meet new people and have conversations.
Renee: As a Lady* of the Press…well, how can I not!? I felt like I had to add my own obnoxiously loud voice after having spent a year making work about radical Feminism for Camden Council back in 2015, which led us to make dissent a much larger part of our work, which continues to this day.
Spotlight on Liberty, and her dog, who is laying down (preferably chewing a Trump doll to pieces)
Liberty: I went, brought my dog too – she’s politically active for bacon. I went because it’s incredibly comforting and reassuring and empowering to physically see thousands of other women, men and children fighting for the same thing you are. To see little girls learning their power right there. You’re surrounded by power
Rosalyn: I marched because the administration needs to know that we see their lies – yesterday’s “alternative facts” comment was not the beginning and it will not be the end – and we will not simply accept what they say and do. I marched because this administration will strip us of the environmental protections so vital to the future of our planet and of the healthcare so vital to our own individual futures.
A projection of Chuck Todd and Kellyanne Conway appears on the screen.
Chuck: Alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods.
The projections then show news reports and front page articles covering the Marches across the world.
Spotlights on Babs and Christine, they are both facing the screen and the other three women. Bab’s spins her chair to the side, so the audience can see her. She is on her laptop, as she clicks the keyboard, the images on the screen change.
Babs: I didn’t take part in the women’s march, which is unusual for me, both because I’m feminist and political but primarily because this march was one that mattered to me. I was on a hen night that night, which sounds frivolous but the Hen party was in Limerick, Ireland and I’m a bridesmaid for the wedding so I’d organised it, so I couldn’t really not turn up at that point. There’s another march happening and once again I’ll be in Ireland for it. Busy life. Though I do think that speaking matters. I think that being seen and heard is about the most powerful thing we have going for us – the masses. Politics means for the people. That has been so long forgotten and when we march, I am reminded of that and it all feels less futile.
Rosalyn: I marched because my mother was an epidemiologist at the CDC shortly before Roe v. Wade and it was her job to interview the family members of women who had died having back-alley abortions. I marched because of the stories she told me and because I am unwilling to see our nation go back to those times.
Christine is looking up, almost in awe at the other women on stage.
Christine: I didn’t go. Not because I disagree but because I felt like I wouldn’t fit in… I haven’t been super involved in women’s rights before, although I do have stances of my own. I sort of imagined that there is this club of marchers and involved people that know what they are doing and know all the ins and outs of policy and I’m just out here wanting to feel equal but not knowing much about it. I guess I didn’t feel comfortable going to hang out with the cool kids! I’m sure it’s all in my head but I’ve never done anything like that before and I wasn’t 100% sure I understood what the specific goals were.
Babs: These marches are really important and in a time that is getting more and more like the 1930s there’s something comforting about knowing that that’s what they didn’t have. They didn’t have social media, and yes it is full of both sides of the argument but it is a way for people to find each other and fight for what they believe in. Or to organise a march.
Becky: Once we had reached Trafalgar Square, I struck up a conversation with a lady. Mid 40s I would guess. She said ‘I feel so hopeful, I feel like this isn’t just an event, I don’t feel angry or sad, I feel hopeful’ and that really stuck with me. The march wasn’t about just women, Feminism isn’t just about women. It is a historical word which remembers that women have been marginalised, but strive for equality.
Babs: I’m not sure there’ll ever be perfect equality – I’m not sure the human species is made for it. We’re not even made of equity. But isn’t there something beautiful in the fact that we’re still striving for it? That women and men will become equal, race, sexuality and as these things are achieved other issues will arrive but we’ll always fight. We’ll always strive to be better than we are.
Spotlight on Eleanor, who is stood upstage looking ahead at all the other women – the projections of images disappear for a second.
Eleanor: I took part because I have been a victim of attempted assault, as has 99% of women that I know, but they don’t talk about it. Because up and down the country councils are choosing not to offer the full range of contraception because of expense, and so one cares about how the pill affects women’s mental health. And despite being a university librarian my mum is about to go to tribunal about her low pay.
Babs: We will always March.
Images of signs from the London March appear
Eleanor: The best banner I saw at the march was ‘where’s teresea?’
Images of those banners appear on the screen behind her.
That summed it up for we have a female prime minister who has made life consistently hard for all women, especially BAME and working class women.
Images of Theresa May holding Donald Trump’s tiny baby hand, as she walks him down a ramp are projected behind at the back of the stage.
Yeah… I’m quite militant… but its genuinely upsetting…because I am a white lower-middle class woman with a decent day job and 50% of the time, I’m still treated like a child. And don’t get me started on women writers…only 17% of all theatre produced in the uk if by women… drives me insane but yes….
My partner came with me and was very upset by the lack of men there. He was raised by divorced woman, and by women he just didn’t understand why men didn’t see the sexism around them and how a masculine voice is needed to campaign for women’s right.
She realises that all the other women on stage have turned to face her.
(Sheepishly) End Rant.
The other women applaud her, they being Eleanor down to the centre of the stage. Lights up.
Renee: There is a further march for women in London on 5th March, and I encourage everyone to participate, if only to soak up the positive energy of solidarity – come join us!
Babs: We’ll always march.
Liberty: It’s not just thumbs up on a Facebook post. I like to feel like in some tiny way I am helping that fight, I’m showing support for women here and in every country, some who are better off but many who are worse off than me. Also, who doesn’t love a good sign. I purposely made mine while other people watched Trump’s inauguration; it felt like a personal little “fuck you” to that shit storm that night.
Lights slowly down, as projections of the march once again appear on the screen behind them, this time with increasing sound, encapsulating the size and scale of the marches, and the sheer amount of people that took part in them.