What it means to be a female director
We had an interesting conversation in directing the other day when Jackie asked a question to the women in the room along the lines of “do you guys ever think about how being a woman in the room directly effects the way you direct and the way others perceive you?”
I do think about this. The first week of rehearsals I was hyper-conscious of the inherent trust some people put in men vs. the inherent skepticism some people have towards women. And the deep need I felt to cater to everyone else in the room, to make everyone happy, and to not seem too tough or strong.
The second week I realized that was bullshit. I know that I am a naturally kind, understanding human and demanding what I need will not change that. This process is not personal. When I tell the actors to be off book by the end of the week, I expect them to be off book. When I demand their focus and commitment, I expect them to be focused and committed. When I tell them to do a full vocal warm-up—I expect them to do a FULL vocal warm-up.
As a young girl, around 3rd or 4th grade, I used to have my four best friends come to my house every Friday. I would teach them new choreography every day and at the end of the year we would put on a dance show and charge admission. One of my friends was clearly not as committed as the other ones. She missed practices and laughed off moments where she thought she looked goofy, instead of pushing through them and figuring them out. Due to this, “Little Flynn” took her out of a dance she wasn’t dedicated to. This decision was not personal; it was what would best serve the show. (let me also say this girl is still one of my best friends in the whole wide world and still brings up the time I took her out of the dance ha). But I, for one, am in awe of the way “Little Flynn” behaved. She demanded what she needed and didn’t apologize for that.
Somewhere along the way, I (as I know many little girls do) got the life kicked out of me. I was taught that the more subdued and compromising I became, the more people would like me. I am realizing more and more every day, that if someone doesn’t like me because I have thoughtful opinions and demand respect, then why the hell do I want that person in my life. If someone is going to project inadequacy onto me simply because I’m a woman, why would I waste any energy catering that persons ego.
I hope that the fact there are so many BADASS women directing their theses this semester inspires the future BU generations to do the same. I know, for me, working on Leila Ghaemi’s thesis my freshman year and then working with her on Daddy Issues changed my life. She was a powerful woman who demanded respect, while still being kind. The two things are NOT mutually exclusive and every day I wonder why, as a society, we let men be both powerful and sweet, but a woman, more often than not, has to choose between the two.
Directing has taught me that I am committed to being a force in the world. I am committed to making my stamp, to questioning the supposed “givens”.
Elaine told us that when she was accepted into the MFA directing program at BU—she was the first woman accepted in 15 years! Honestly. Ridiculous. But the times they are a-changing.
On a grand scale, I will continue to fight the prejudices women in power face and aim to empower other women that they are worthy. And, on a smaller scale, I will stop apologizing for being a smart, curious, passionate individual because I too am worthy.