#MeToo manifesto comes to the Dobama stage

Dobama Theatre continues its season with the Cleveland premiere of "Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again."—a theatrical manifesto for the #MeToo era. Written by Alice Birch, and directed by Sarah Elizabeth Wansley, the play runs through Feb. 17.

A wildly experimental and inventive grouping of vignettes, “Revolt” asks how to revolutionize language, relationships, work and life while bursting at the seams of conformity. An ensemble of four powerful women and one token male bring this unapologetically provocative, in-your-face text to life—with humor, strength, and a punk-rock attitude that refuses to behave.

“Revolt” was commissioned in 2014 as part of a series for the Royal Shakespeare Company. The series, Midsummer Mischief, highlighted the creativity of four female playwrights, Timberlake Wertenbaker, E.V. Crowe, Alice Birch and Abi Zakarian, who all worked from the same prompt: “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” The quote, taken from a 1976 article by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, has become a cultural phenomenon and a well-loved slogan of the feminist movement.

Birch was irritated by Ulrich’s statement, attributing her anger to her confusion with the quote’s sentiment. She dove headfirst into feminist literature, including authors Kat Banyard, Caitlin Moran, and Andrea Dworkin, as inspiration for her play. The work that most shaped “Revolt” was The SCUM Manifesto by Valeria Solanas, who attempted to kill Andy Warhol in 1968. While Birch is clear that she doesn’t agree with the message of Solanas’ work, it inspired her to think of Revolt as a manifesto.

The play calls out the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and assault. Throughout its four acts, it picks apart gender roles and stereotypes that have seeped into our collective consciousness. The characters work to upset these expectations and revolutionize their lives in the process. "Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again." challenges the audience to confront how a history of discrimination impacts us. In its review, The New York Times said, “Ms. Birch’s work finds the theatrical exhilaration in civil disobedience.”

Birch wrote the play in three days. Asked about the process in an interview with The New York Times, she said, “Most things that I write do tend to come out like that, which is why there’s always so much fury. It feels like a need to say these things now.” "Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again." debuted with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the summer of 2014 and had its American premiere at Soho Repertory Theatre in 2016.

Dobama’s production of “Revolt” features Nina Domingue, Lisa Louise Langford, Rachel Lee Kolis, Miranda LeeAnn, and Abraham McNeil Adams.

Performances are Thursdays, at 7:30 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, at 8 p.m.; and Sundays, at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $29 to $35, with senior, student and military discounts available.

To purchase tickets online, or for information on purchasing tickets at the box office, visit www.dobama.org, or call 216-932-3396.

Preview performances are Wednesday, Jan. 23, and Thursday, Jan. 24, at 7:30 p.m. Preview tickets are $15. Sunday, Jan. 27, at 7:30 p.m., is a pay-what-you-can performance.

Colin Anderson

Colin Anderson is the assistant to the managing and artistic directors of Dobama Theatre.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 10:26 AM, 01.22.2019