Girl's Liberation Front
nytheatre.com review by Julia Lee Barclay
August 12, 2012
Girl’s Liberation Front is very much a FringeHIGH offering, in that it is vital, enthusiastic and has vocal grassroots support in the audience. This performance is an offering from Project Girl Collective, directed by Ashley Marinaccio and produced by Jessica Greer Morris. They offer a space for girls to write and perform their own work thereby empowering them “to become brave, confident, socially conscious leaders and explore their own challenging circumstances.”
The evening is a series of spoken word/song scenarios performed with exuberance by a large and refreshingly diverse cast of teenage girls. While everyone brought some part of their unique selves to the performance, a standout writer/performer is Dominique Fishback who wrote and performed many of the strongest scenes. She has an excellent ear for language and a luminescent presence. One of my favorite of her scenes was a critique that used charm to enhance its devastating precision called “Little Black Actress.” Four girls put their headshots in front of their faces while Fishback, smiling broadly, in rhyming spoken word, ran down all the cliché roles that would be offered to them and the ones denied. The other girls also sang and smiled behind and in front of their headshots. It made me want to cry.
Other scenarios (28 in all that were written and performed by the girls in the core ensemble) were a combination of cheerleading for girl power; funny and sharp observations about being a teenage girl; and quite sad observations, especially about self-harm and sexual assault. However, none of these scenes descended into maudlin self-pity.
In fact, my only quibble with the presentation was its almost relentless cheerfulness in the face of the issues being raised in the scenes. I notice that much of the time when women/girls perform there is a compulsion (probably from internalized sexism) to smile literally or figuratively. This pressure does not seem to plague boys/men when they are critiquing the world around them. The women who have created this collective and the girls that are working with them are very smart, so I hope one day they can allow themselves this final freedom: the freedom from smiling through the pain.
However, I did like some of the evening a great deal and the audience in general loved the piece, half of them gave the girls a standing ovation and the friend I brought loved it and is telling all her friends with teenage girls to attend.