I often find that I go and see theatre which seems to imitate life, with the synchronicity between the show’s topic and things going on in my life smacking me in the face from the outset and making me think there’s something weird going on. My housemate had just been on a three day feminism workshop and the main theme of Asking Nicely was permission – why women often feel like they have to ask for permission in life, generally. Hannah seemed like a bit of an expert in the subject, and like all good experts in their field donned a lab coat and used a flip chart to guide us through the “more complicated than you think it is” minefield that is permission. Referencing amusing anecdotes from her life and combining them with psychological facts and her funny yet poignant performance poetry certainly kept the audience hooked.
We were whisked through an array of examples of strong female icons who were not afraid to ask for permission, women in lesbian bars (they even stand like men) and their ever so polite counterparts (I cringed thinking about the times I’d give my power away). She walked us through her experiences of being bullied at school and the time she had a rich boyfriend (entitlement certainly kicks entitlement issues to the curb) and went wonderfully off topic with a poem about Tetris being like a relationship. The seamless transitions from anecdotes into poetry were cleverly thought out and allowed the show to flow (she basically made it look easy, when it wasn’t). I The venue was perfect for the piece as well, the Alphabetti Theatre is a great addition to the Newcastle cultural scene, much more laid back that its more traditional counterparts with a great location right in the centre of town.
It was great to be reminded of issues that still get swept to one side – the old “boys will be boys” vs “that’s not ladylike” perspectives. She confided that she used to have it in her head that she could only perform if she dropped two dress sizes (how many men would entertain such an idea)? She called out classic double standards, as well as making us chuckle about why we feel like we have to be polite on night buses and why we struggle to be mean in self-defence classes. I enjoyed learning about the different types of permission and venting my frustration at the world (loudly), as well as giving myself permission to sit like a man. I especially loved the poem/meditation at the end, which transported me to some kind of cool yoga poetry class. If life has gotten in the way of you feeling like a strong, empowered human being (it’s not just for girls), this show will put you back on the right track.
Check out Hannah’s website here
The show runs from August 8th – 29th at Pilgrim, 3 Robertsons Close, Cowgate, EH1 1LY. And it’s free, so you’ve got no excuse not to go. Get tickets here