Spin/Stir personal appraisals cont

Joelle Taylor (JT) and Vanessa Lee (VL)

‘I was continually told, Ness, what are you doing? Don’t do this, do something nice, you know you’re just upsetting everyone…being called a man hater…we were putting on plays about abuse and we were being either ghettoised under a lesbian or gay heading, (which meant this subject was) not being allowed…for women in general or we were derided, and told we shouldn’t really be doing it, it wasn’t nice and it wasn’t pretty. (VL))Then someone from Time Out came and the reviews hit and they were massive and we sold out.’ (JT)

‘We used be to be….with performance anxiety like you wouldn’t know… and we used to say…this is for all the unborn children and then that would just calm me right down…universal importance…and these unborn children won’t necessarily have to suffer abuse and that’s why we’re putting on this play because it needs to be talked about… I’m proud of us.’ (VL/JT)

‘We called that style ‘Social Surrealism’…it’s a genre…we made it up…in our kitchen sink drama, a woman is washing up when suddenly she gets pulled down the sink by a spider…anorexia is no longer anorexia…it’s because a spider has woven a web in her throat…they’re all social issues, problems, taboos and they’re made surreal so we can watch them without having a cathartic response, that’s social surrealism. (VL/JT)

‘We were so…rebellious,…I was offered an agent as an actor…and I turned it down because they didn’t offer to anyone else, I was like either we all are or none are, and now I look back and think you dickhead.’ (JT)

‘I invited my model commercial agent who came to Whorror Stories and instantly dropped me, walked out in the interval,…and wrote me a letter to say how appalled they were and that I wasn’t represented by them anymore. I learnt quickly: Spin/Stir shows should not have intervals.’ (VL)

[Regarding Naming – Support groups were] grateful, it was slightly unnerving because usually we could hear sobbing, there were nights when we could hear full on sobbing, and when one starts to cry another starts to cry, and we were trying not to have a cathartic release but for gods sake if you want to cry, cry and it was difficult but we were really embraced and championed. God without that we couldn’t have done it. We had a great deal of support from the women around us. And after each production we would do Q&A and often there would be more tears and more discussion and the most extraordinary things would happen like midwifes were actually changing questionnaires in hospitals for pregnant women after seeing our productions…because women give birth in a very different way if they’ve been sexually abused. It became OK to talk about violence and abuse you had witnessed or been a survivor of. There was no more silence. Like all whistle blowers we had to scream to be heard. It would be my greatest honour to produce these plays, 20 years later, for larger audiences, and survivors of abuse, who no longer need to feel stigmatised. Who would not listen now? (VL/JT)

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