Recently I’ve been listening to conversations about our “photo memory” generation. This follows the idea that our young audiences are “seeing” a lot of visual content in their computers, Iphones, Ipads that represent their “memories”. When I was a child I was lucky if I was included in the family holiday photographs of Christmas/Easter/Fourth of July/Halloween. My father took some great photographs of our family – just not that often. So we would really remember those images as “that really happened” for our memories. Nowadays, young people are instagraming their snacks. So many images are being recorded of their everyday life, so the visual “store” of what their childhood/self image memories are legion. And I wonder, how does that affect this generation in terms of what they see and feel in theatre?
I’ve seen some incredible images in my years of watching theatre: in 2001 I saw Judy Dench walking down a staircase in “Royal Family” like a cobra (that was a lesson in motion/controlled suprise); the scope of different worlds in the “Mahabharata”, the stage play directed by Peter Brook in 1985; and the rain that fell from the sky in “The Grapes of Wrath” on Broadway in 1990. I loved being surprised by the power of those visual images. They had a surprising sense of “new” about them and they’ve become prized memories for me.
So I was actually distressed to read this article about the exclusivity of men on a number of lists. Granted women have only been allowed to vote in the United States since 1920, so it’s understood that there is some catching up to do. But I was weirdly horrified to see how many important groups of people do not include a single woman. It reminded me of the “Dry White Male” season at the Guthrie. To see the images in the articles of all the men’s faces, and not a single woman in their leadership lists, was stunning.
It made me wonder, do young audiences assume that the voice and face of a leader is a man if what they are exposed to are only men as leaders?
I suppose the remedy to this would be to create lists that have women involved as leaders (along with men) and help share their faces and names as recognized “memories” of leadership. But for now, I am going to make a cup of tea and take some cold medicine.