“It’s complacence that is the enemy, not violence,” says Mariah MacCarthy about activism in today’s culture, and she is out to fight this enemy. MacCarthy is a playwright and founder/director of CAPS LOCK THEATRE, a company dedicated to producing “funny, ugly, human” work that will hold PUSSYFEST February 9 and 10.
PUSSYFEST is a two-night presentation of staged monologues, written for 41 female-bodied/identifying performers that deal, in one way or another, with the body. PUSSYFEST is also a fundraiser for CAPS LOCK THEATRE’s upcoming production of Sarah Shaefer’s The Gin Baby.
MacCarthy shared her thoughts on activism, body image and how PUSSYFEST got its name.
Why activist/feminist theater is necessary in today’s culture?
I feel like the biggest threat to women and to feminism is not the violent men or the masturbators on the subway–it’s the men who will never strike or rape a woman in their life who don’t believe us when we tell them how widespread the violence and sexism are. Or who know and just shrug, saying that “terrible people and violence will always exist.” Who will never lift a finger to counteract it. It’s complacence that is the enemy, not violence. If it weren’t for the complacence, the violence wouldn’t stand a chance. There are a lot of complacent men, who take offense at a woman’s suspicion when they approach them on the street, and who think their offense is more important than the woman’s suspicion. Not all of my theater is explicitly activist, but all of it takes aim at that complacence in one way or another. And I admit, I try to do it in a way that will appeal to men, because what good would it do if they didn’t come see it? With PUSSYFEST, both men and women write and direct for female-bodied/identifying actors. I think involving men in the obliteration of other men’s complacence is a good thing.
Your thoughts on body image in today’s culture.
Stop hating on ANY kind of body. Stop fat-shaming, obviously. Stop fat-shaming under the guise of “being concerned for their health.” I’m relatively thin but I eat cheeseburgers and I don’t really work out and nobody says shit to me about it, but if I were bigger you know people would be all “concerned.” Also, stop skinny-shaming. Stop femme-shaming. Stop hating on heels and lipstick and skirts. Stop hating on miniskirts, and stop hating on sweatpants. Stop hating on women who spend “too much” or “too little” time deciding how they are going to look. Stop it. We’re not going to solve anything if our claws are all bared at each other over how we’re decorated. Accept that a woman can be a “real” feminist and dress femininely or provocatively. Trust her to be a big girl who can make her own decisions about how she looks. Trust that her appearance is her form of self-expression, whether you like that expression or not. And then shut up.
Why/how you decided on the name PUSSYFEST?
It just came to me and I thought it’d sell tickets.
What do you hope to accomplish with PUSSYFEST?
It’s a fundraiser for Caps Lock Theatre’s upcoming production of a beautiful play by Sarah Shaefer, The Gin Baby. So I hope to raise some money for that. I hope to showcase the talents of these beautiful artists, all of whom I personally invited to participate in this. I hope it’s a stunning evening, which I already know it will be. I hope people like it. I hope we sell out.
Some of your inspirations for activist/feminist theater?
Eve Ensler, obviously. And Desiree Burch’s TAR BABY knocked me out. Also, Amanda Palmer created an amazing piece at her old high school called WITH THE NEEDLE THAT SINGS IN HER HEART, in which Anne Frank uses her imagination to escape the concentration camp. It was everything that experimental theater SHOULD be and very rarely is. It was breathtaking in its scope and imagination and it just shattered me. It wasn’t preachy, it didn’t make us all feel self-congratulatory for not being Nazis (which a LOT of “activist” theater seems to do). Honestly, a lot of my inspirations for activist/feminist theater are not people who are making explicitly “activist” theater at all. It’s the playwrights who pose complex moral questions without easy answers, who dare to show villains doing the other things villains do besides be evil. Playwrights like Thomas Bradshaw, Lucy Gillespie, Mac Rogers.
Anything else you would like to share or discuss regarding PUSSYFEST?
If you like feeling good, you will like PUSSYFEST.
Tickets to PUSSYFEST can be purchased at BrownPaperTickets.com.