Saturday, 16 January 2016

Bette & Joan: BITCH. SLUT. LIAR. WHORE. - Midsumma Festival preview

It was the golden era of Hollywood, where stars truly existed and there was a sense of mystique surrounding them. Stars like the indomitable Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, who despite their circumstances, never quite managed to see eye to eye with each other. Their feud, which continued even after Crawford passed away, is one that has captivated people for decades. Performed as part of the Midsumma Festival, Bette & Joan: BITCH. SLUT. LIAR. WHORE resurrects these two dead women and pits the Hollywood legends head to head in one final battle; winner takes all. 

"Bette and Joan are the epitome of the Old-Hollywood ‘star-system’. They worked their way up through the Hollywood Studio system, and carved out an image and brand for themselves," explain co-creators David Morris and Tom Halls. "They poured their entire being into being a Hollywood star, to being worthy of the big screen. They worked tirelessly at their craft, at executing their characters; that was awe inspiring. I guess what captures us creatively is the incredible sadness they both had in their personal lives. They both were desperate for the love of a partner and their children and friends, but somehow managed to push away every person whom they ever really got close too."

Such notorious rivalry between two women in Hollywood is something that seems to be a constant source of news, but there is never any reporting on such relationships between the men of Hollywood. "It’s a very complicated issue to unpack in a short statement, but ultimately it comes down to how our society treats women, to how women are encouraged to treat themselves. Our society encourages women to compete against other women, especially superficially," Morris says. "Hollywood and tabloid media continue to portray women as sexual objects and then build up the drama around their personal lives. Tabloid media creates these feuds to sell magazines and movie tickets and we as an audience lap it all up like valium, to distract us from our imagined 9 to 5 mundane existence." 

"Of course the pressure exists for men in Hollywood too, but we don't choose to focus on it as much. Men are so readily admired and respected for their craft, where as women have to fight so much harder to get you to stop looking at their tits and really focus on the incredible vulnerability that they're giving to their craft," says Halls. "In a male dictated industry the great female roles are so few and far between; our society has for so long neglected the strength of female perspective on a grander scale. It seems as though our society is slowly waking up to itself, but it’s something that we need to continue to push for and fight for. We know it is somewhat ironic, as we are two men playing women, but perhaps that’s a statement of queerness in its own right."
"The interesting thing is, they were both so similar in what they were fighting for, they just went about it differently," Morris says. "I started reading Bette Davis’ autobiography, "This 'n That", and was hooked from the beginning. I began to develop the script for the show and after reading "Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud", it became obvious that Joan Crawford was an incredibly necessary character to bring into the story and in my mind, Tom was the perfect person to play her!" 
 
The two writers/performers are quick to stress that Bette & Joan is more than just two Hollywood stars hurling cutting insults at each other. "It's a dynamic, outrageous and hysterical show, that will make people laugh but it will also pull at their heartstrings as these larger than life actresses expose their underlying insecurities," says Morris. "Fundamentally this show is about adoring the grandness of such incredible stars while cracking open their facades to reveal the fragility underneath."

Venue: La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday St, Carlton
Season: 2 - 7 February | Tues, Thurs 6.30pm, Wed, Fri, Sun 8.30pm, Sat 10.15pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Conc
Bookings: La Mama Theatre














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