I try not to get political on this blog. There are different, more productive platforms for that type of thing.
But with the mess currently happening in D.C. and the show I’m currently performing in, I had a thought.
I’m all about women’s rights, clearly. Me Too has done a huge service for our nation and for the world. Women are becoming stronger and more defiant all the time. The age of women being used as physical toys is coming to an end. But I’m performing in 42nd St, a show in which a director kisses an actor to teach her how to… act, and women are literally placed on a pedestal.
That is by far not the most problematic scene in musical theatre. South Pacific is just…whoa dude, not really okay at all. Let’s take this young girl who doesn’t speak the same language as the man and have sex with her on the floor—not great choices there, buddy. And that relationship is romanticized.
I love musical theatre, and I don’t want to not perform in the old classic shows. But should the chauvinistic nature of the shows be ignored or become a part of a larger conversation? A lot of theatre patrons aren’t interested in learning about societal problems with their tap dancing experience, and companies would lose money if they tried to beat their audiences over the head with social change.
But do we have an obligation to look more closely at how we treat women in period pieces?
I don’t know what the answer is, but asking a question is the first step toward finding a solution.
Without burying the musical theatre canon, how do we approach belittlement, assault, and objectification of women in the classics?
If you have any suggestions, post in the comment section below.