READ, WATCH, LISTEN: An Interview With Julia Croft As She Re-Writes The Script On Female Sexuality
Having spent next to no time in the theatre and only been to see 3 or 4 plays I was keen to learn more about what it was like to make a play so I spent 15 minutes talking to Julia Croft about labeling herself a feminist artist, pop culture and her new play, Body Double. This is what she had to say.
Firstly, tell me about body double
It’s essentially a play about sex and sexuality, inspired by us reading texts like “I Love Dick” by Chris Kraus and other works of his. It’s using memoir, theory and real-life stories and some sweet choreography to some cheesy pop songs to kind of look at our experiences as women and sex. The narrative of sex in the media seems to be quite male-dominated and women’s experiences of sex, sexual desire and pleasure don’t seem to be as centered as a male’s experience. Women get to a certain age and realise as a feminist, those things that you wake to in the world actually have an effect on your intimate relationships. The play is an exploration of all those things.
You define yourself as a feminist artist, what does that mean for your work?
The work I make is overtly feminist. The questions that I have, the most pressing, come from being a woman and being a feminist and having lived thirty years on this planet and being really fucking angry (there are laughs here because I understand exactly what she means and she laughs because she knows all women should feel the exact same way). Additionally, it means working in ways that multiple voices can be heard in all situations and not be working to these hierarchal and patriarchal systems which the world is built on. The theatre industry is a real hierarchal place and I think as a feminist you have to disrupt that power. Women’s stories are underrepresented and there’s an idea that women in theatre is still niche.
Your play’s in the past have drawn a lot from popular culture and music, is that a way to meet theatre and culture in the middle so anyone can relate to your performances?
My use of pop culture does make it more accessible, yes, but I actually keep using it because I really like it. I am obsessed with pop culture and I have the worst taste in American film and pop music so it’s not a conscious decision to include it. I want Taylor Swift in the show because I love Taylor Swift.
How does that affect your personal beliefs when you listen to that kind of music?
That’s where it gets interesting right. I think I’m interested in the narrative of ingesting a lifetime of this popular culture. It’s problematic how women’s sexuality and sex is portrayed in cinema. At the same time, I really like that sort of stuff. Me using it as an artist is me trying to work out where these points of tension meet. There’s a difference between your personal experience and politics right? I’m a feminist but then that’s a work in progress, you’re constantly coming up against lived experience that doesn’t match up to feminist politics.
What do you want people to take away from your play?
For women to feel like they engage in personal material that speaks to a universal concept of sex and sexual relationships. That is that women are under-represented in pop culture, I want women to feel angry. We need to be angry about a lot of things. And joy. Joyful anger. The work I make is quite anarchic and can be quiet messy. Joyful I hope.
Turns out Julia Croft is a bad ass feminist who wants to make plays that change the world’s perspective on women and their sexuality. She has already got a lot of work behind her but she recognises that changing the narrative of women in media, arts and pop culture is going to be a lot of work ahead. Wellington can catch this play at Bats theatre from November 9th – 25th.