Matt Rogers & Simon Brewis 2012
An exploration of feminism including men commissioned exclusively by women as part of the 2012 Transform Festival.
As insane and potentially pointless as this project sounds, it was born out of Simon's genuine desire to make a piece of populist feminist theatre. His idea was to adapt "A Brief History of Misogyny" into a musical. My immediate advice was that a Man taking a creative lead on a project about feminism that only recognises a book written by a man might receive some push-back.
The conversation continued, as Simon got more and more troubled that he can't even put something positive into the world relating to something that he was passionate about, and the absurdity of what we were saying struck us.
Being men complaining about not having a voice in feminism felt inherently silly, but we felt like we had tapped a nerve of what some people who think less positively about feminism than we do might be feeling.
Given my continual quest for empathy in the places where it is difficult to cultivate it "Foolish Men" was born. A week long participatory project in which men from the wider Leeds community would be invited to the Leeds playhouse to spend days and days discussing what they thought feminism means, how they feel it relates to them, why they think that some people reject it, and every day a small piece of performance was made to reflect the day's work
We got push back and anger from groups on all sides of the discussion, merely for existing. In the end the participants who chose to took to the stage to present our findings with us to a full audience
Foolish Men is a project in several parts which explores what happens when men get involved in the discussion about gender equality. The thing is that it's very possible that no one knows the answers to any of the questions that we're posing, least of all Simon and I. So it stands to reason that we were going to need some help from the general public. Only Foolish Men should apply.