A Mother + Medea at the Dugdale Centre in North London
We are pleased to announce a successful run of 'A Mother' along with Franca Rame's 'Medea' at the Dugdale Centre in North London from Wednesday 22 January to Saturday 25 January 2020.
Box Office here
See below for an interview with the actor Jane Gwilliams
“It’s as if our potency is in the past”
A mother of five herself, actor Jane Gwilliams talks to the producer Emma Mahony about the personal significance and meaning of Franca Rame’s plays ‘A Mother’ and ‘Medea’.
“My essential motivation for doing these plays was to raise the profile of Franca Rame’s work, because I think she is an expert in ‘bringing the political into the kitchen’”, says actor Jane Gwilliams. “Franca Rame was very much overshadowed by her husband Dario Fo [winner of the nobel peace laureate for literature] and I’m really happy to be bringing her work to a new audience.
“In A mother Franca Rame explores the question of where does responsibility lie when your children do something unacceptable or that you don’t support. Where does the blame lie? I tend to blame myself a lot, and A mother is an in-depth discussion around this. Rame has humanised terrorism, the minute the terrorist has a mother and a relationship with her, you can ask more complicated questions around the subject.
“It feels scary to see how a young person would become a terrorist out of an idealistic impulse – but it is happening every day. Nobody wants to talk about it, and in A Mother, Rame has found a way of opening up this discussion”.
“In Medea, Rame explores another part of being a mature woman. Here, we have a woman looking back as a mother and asking ‘have I done well enough?’ This time she is looking back on her relationship with her husband and asking ‘Is it totally based on my sexual power? Is that all we have as women?’ Although early on in a relationship can be an exciting time in a woman’s life but what happens when sexual interest goes off the boil? Are women not taken seriously anymore? These are the complicated questions Franca Rame is grappling with.”
“I think Rame tackles many things in Medea, including the menopause, which is portrayed as a very negative time in western culture. There is very little talked about the potential of the older woman, it is as if our potency is in the past. Women have so many strings to their bow, but we become invisible as we age. It is something I recognise among my younger colleagues when teaching drama, because female power is geared towards sexual potency, nobody wants to look beyond that, because they have a fear of facing it themselves. Rame’s not afraid to talk about this, however, and how there is very little that seems positive to step into. Rame herself is a role model, and suggests that if there are role models, you have to grab them and keep renewing yourself.
“In Rame’s Medea [as opposed to the Greek myth in Euripides’ Medea] I get the sense that Medea herself is making this terrible sacrifice of killing her children into order to give birth to a new woman. After all, we don’t drop down dead at 50, we have a lot more life, so the infanticide is not about the psychological whys and wherefores, it is used metaphorically to show how women are kept in the box because that is how society has organised things. As a woman, you are shackled to your children and tied down by the bonds to them, while a man isn’t. What if you have that scenario, where a woman, a mother, steps freely into a new life unshackled by children. The knife Medea wields represents the implement to cut the bonds. So it’s like a transformation.
“I was speaking to an artist, and he describes his paintings as being like his children. Sometimes he has to destroy them in order to be a better artist. Destroying them is like creating something new, to rise like a Phoenix from the ashes.”
“I feel this is something that is very much happening in the menopause, and that’s the part we don’t talk about. Society seems to view it as life ending. Whereas in other cultures, it is seen as a very important time for women, where they have much better sex, for example. I think Rame’s Medea was about killing the old conversation to have a new conversation about this time in a woman’s life, about trying new things and embracing new ideas.