For a moment imagine Sharla Gets Ready...
Ready to watch a play that is Housed in a Theatre that I have been super excited to see open - Brixton House Theatre.
I've been Getting Ready and anticipating this moment of watching a production at Brixton House because it represents and encompasses the cross roads of my life.
My community and profession.
I remember working in a Theatre in South London. And as a South London native, it always amazed me how I'd travel from the real life of Brixton into the made up fantasy of Waterloo. And so as I get ready to watch Patricia Gets Ready my expectations of diversity, inclusion, real life, representation and community was super high!
Maybe here is a good point to disclose the full title
Patricia Gets Read FOR THE DATE WITH A MAN THAT USED TO HIT HER
they capitalised not me!
And to be completely transparent - I think that was my biggest issue with this play. The capitalisation of abuse and Blackness.
To set the scene of my expectations I'm always greeted well when I enter into the building of my home theatre since its opening.
The customer service from the Box Office and Bar always makes me feel welcome and like I belong. The students accessing the foyer area to do their work brings a smile to my face especially as I always see how many older, whiter of a different class(er) people have already clocked the free wifi, I'll eat my packed lunch and meet with friend spot.
I recognise the difference.
My community and profession
This occasion was no different - the staff super friendly and kind. However, as I took my seat in the auditorium I felt a familiar unease as the usual theatre etiquette of white supremacy was established.
Not just because inside of Brixton, House(d) gentrification.
But because I experienced the entitlement of sitting in "whatever seat is empty" Pizza in here in hand cause I can, by a group that probably are creatives of the show.
They supersede manners... that is done by the 'front line' workers.
My community and profession
In an (approx.) 80 seater auditorium I counted 8 people from the global majority that have been expelled from a place they built as white liberal women took up spaces Brixton had House(d) for them. gentrification.
Inside of Brixton, House(d) the Midlands.
And whilst all stories matter regional theatres claim that London theatres need to be less London 'centric' is rhetoric, to covertly attack a community of people that still lacks their stories being told.
This is not just a Black and White story.
I would have been very receptive to hearing the same story by someone classified as White that has experienced being HIT by a London man.
Inside Brixton, House(d) the story of Martha Watson Allures (the Writer), and though her experience of being hit is terrible, I'm not sure how empathy for Martha... I mean Patricia... was intended to be cultivated with language like -
"He fucked me so hard like he needs me"
The gentrified LOL'd as Brixton House(d) them.
To add insult to injury to my Getting Ready were two points:
There was a White woman sitting next to me who had a Queen tattooed on the arm closest to me of an African... that had lost its melanin by being on her arm but also by being HIT right in the nose with envy.
Is it irony, symmetry or just mere coincidence that this symbolically alludes to a historical gentrification?
Yasmin Dawes who is of dual (or maybe multiple) heritage(s) is playing Martha. No where did I recognise any nuances of experience that women of colour face. The 'White guy therapist' line therefore falls flat, because although the actor is 'of colour' the story isn't.
There were three lines that felt superficially injected into the script to make it appear 'multi culture'. And unfortunately for this production to tell a story of colour, you need to dig deep, well below the surface of messy rooms to symbolise depression and anxiety.
Behind the made up fantasy that Brixton is House(ing) is Somerleyton Estate. Filled with women who are not being hit but beaten.
And not just by men. But by an institution that silences their beats because a white woman was slapped.
Somerleyton also encompasses men whose self esteem is at an all time low, and murder is something not just the black(ened) woman experiences but the men too!
Part of that reason... gentrification!!
My community and profession
For a moment. Imagine being a Black Woman having to deal with the layered intersections of racism and sexism, who has experienced first hand domestic violence for years but has no family support - no mothers room to hide in!
"You can't explain abusive relationship to someone who hasn't been in one"
Getting Ready to watch a play that is located in her local community.
Only to find it is a story about a woman from the Midlands under the guise of Blackness who is ranting for 90 minutes about whether or not to go FOR A DATE WITH THE MAN THAT USED TO HIT HER.
But the abuse is from the liberty of who's stories are Getting Ready to be told... especially House(d) in Brixton.
Finally - this play does that thing, where it tries to define words and not box abuse confusing you further of the narrative.
The substance of understanding that English as a format is exactly this, needs further exploration.
"I wish you deep deep misery to which there is no cure"- Why wouldn't you want a cure for THE MAN THAT USED TO HIT YOU??????????????????????????????????????????
This is a one tone play of feminism, that tries to superficially be womanist - but just isn't.
Again - this is not a Black story but a White story. It embarrassingly tries to cover this by the casting of someone from multiple ethnicities.
I wonder what her story of domestic violence is like in London or the Midlands?