Silent Faces return to the stage with their signature style of playful and political physical theatre, interrogating permission, patriarchy, and pop music in a comical response to the gender restrictions put upon Waiting for Godot. We spoke with the team about their show.
Can you sum up the show in five words?
Nerdy, joyous, stupid, feminist, clown
What inspired you to create Godot is a Woman?
JU: Godot is a Woman originally started out as a plan to perform Waiting for Godot, but the Beckett estates insistence that only men can play those parts soon got our brains ticking. It seemed so out-dated and bizarre that there would be a gender ban on such a revolutionary play. We were also intrigued by the question of what Jack’s position, as a non-binary person, would be in this conversation. We felt like we had opened a can of gender binary worms that we couldn’t wait to start dissecting.
Can you tell us about the characters in the piece?
JU: The characters in the piece are twofold; they are us, waiting on hold for the Beckett estate to pick up the phone, but they are also versions of Beckett’s character’s, waiting for the unknown voice of authority to show up and give us answers to questions that are bigger than us. The design of Godot is a Woman is based on the look of Waiting for Godot: a desolate road, a mound, a tree, grey and bleak. For the most part, the moments of clown and the way that we speak are influenced by the way that Beckett wrote the characters of Vladimir and Estragon.
How does it feel to be on tour this time round?
JU: It feels great to bring this show to new places and share it with new audiences. In the past touring has never felt very accessible to us as it is so expensive, but it felt really important to us that this show ventures further than our other shows have.
Wherever we are in the country we find that people really connect with the message of the piece – that archaic gender barriers and binaries shouldn’t stop anyone from doing anything.
What’s your favourite thing about show?
JU: It’s combined nerdiness and rebellion. It’s so much fun to make and perform a show that is full of call-backs to Samuel Beckett’s great body of work, whilst also making room for more female- and non-binary-led, queer art that is just as valid. We
are such geeks, and we love celebrating that and the history of British theatre, but we are also tired of the high fences and closed doors that you come across when you aren’t straight, cis, white, able-bodied, and male. I saw an amazing bit of graffiti in
Norwich, where we opened the tour, that said “when you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence”, and that’s not to say that we have more than we need, but it does feel like we have a bit of a platform with this show to try and
extend the table for others who deserve to be here but don’t necessarily have access – that’s my favourite thing about this show.
What’s next for Silent Faces?
We have some things bubbling away in our cauldron which we would love to start working on. The reality for theatre makers at the moment is that it is really hard to get things off the ground, so we are focusing on how we can move forward in a
sustainable way that doesn’t burn us all out, or make us all skint (er than we already are). We are also really focused on making sure our practice is inclusive and joyful, which takes time and energy to get right, but is so important.
Touring 10 May – 17 August 2023. More info and tickets here: www.silentfaces.uk
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