It goes without saying that being a woman should be celebrated every day of the year. Devised by a powerhouse of women, GIRLS is a collective fusion of dance, text, music and performance, celebrating womanhood and protesting perceptions of what it means to be a woman today.
Director Kane Husbands has managed to create a contagious energy that’s the embodiment of sisterhood. The eleven women on stage span from seventeen to seventy, each one exuding a vitality and effervescence that is universally accepted by her fellow sisters and met with an atmosphere of overwhelming support from the audience. There’s a beautiful section entitled ‘7 women I’d like to remember,’ that requires 7 females from the audience to join the performers on stage in a dance; each one representing an important woman in the actors life. It’s such a safe space that every woman who’s asked to participate is happy to do so, creating a moment that’s so fluid it’s hard to tell the difference between the performers and the participants.
Each vignette explores different faucets of femininity, all uniquely personal yet always relatable. Saul Valiunas’ light designs compliment the range of emotions conveyed on stage, from rage and sensuality to grief and hope. The section about woodwork and ‘sistering joists’ not only subverts traditional gender stereotypes but acts as a beautiful metaphor about women supporting other women.
In contrast, the piece about how women can contribute to the sexualisation of young girls is equally as powerful. A once self-assured, warrior-like girl is stripped – literally and figuratively – of her confidence and identity as the other women use pens to mark out the ‘inferior’ areas of her body. These markings remain on the body as the piece transitions to different topics, acting as scars that can never be removed.
Sound design and music by Roly Botha and James Grout-Smith respectively, have obviously been carefully thought out. Phoebe Parker’s vocals are stunning and when songs like ‘Barbie Girl,’ ‘Sweet but a Psycho,’ and ‘So God made Girls,’ are stripped down – their catchy soundtrack removed and lyrics exposed – it results in the haunting revelation of how dangerous stereotypes still exist in popular culture; perpetuating the devaluation of women.
The opening sequence involving a pregnancy needs more clarity, and the message of some sketches are not always clear. Yes, it’s anarchic, messy, there’s screeching, screaming and it’s not always pretty, but what better representation of girlhood and womanhood? Plus, it passes the Bechdel test hands down!