Monday, 23 April 2012

Shakespeare's Biddies...come on.



I just came back from the Ralph Fiennes film version of Shakespeare's Coriolanus. Here is the thing...I don't think I always like Billy S. and this is why: Shakespeare was a man of many wonderful images, many words and yet I think SOME of his female characters are just terrible. In most Shakespeare plays, you see these rich male characters who have wants and needs. Then there are the young women...one dimensional idiots who will literally do anything to please people . They are passive, they are pretty, they are boring.

I should add some new information since I obviously wasn't as specific before. There are some great female characters in Shakespeare. Women who are funny and challenging. However these women are usually older women. My problem is that in MANY (not all) of Shakespeare's plays, the young women are portrayed as naive and self-sacrifcing martyrs. This is the case in Coriolanus. This is the case in Othello. This is the case in Romeo and Juliet.

Here is where I will shift my argument back to my point about Shakespeare and updating his work. I understand that we are all people of our time and during Shakespeare's time, woman were more passive. MAYBE all a woman wanted was to please her husbands. MAYBE women were constantly the victims or the perfect counterparts to men's vicious and troubled ways. I say this, but I don't believe that this was the case for all women. I'm sure that in every time period there was at least one feisty woman. A real ball-buster and frankly that's the girl for me.


I don't like roles that perpetuate passivity just because it was true back in the day. I'm not saying you should ignore the social structures of a time period and forget how the world once was, but you should also embrace how the world works today. My point is that if you are going to update Shakespeare in every other way (as is the case in Fiennes version) then why not update the women's roles? I'm not saying "change the text" but maybe give the women a scene that shows some depth, some humanity, some power.

IT'S SO AGGRAVATING. Why can't women have cool stories where they aren't the victims? Why can't there be more Joan of Arcs and less Bella Swans in the world? Why, dear jesus, do I have to watch another film where a woman sheds a single tear down her check when she is upset? For once, I want a film to show the raw emotion of a woman who has needs of her own and punches that stupid husband of hers in the face...sorry I got sidetracked. I want to play a woman who has strength. Who doesn't crumble at the first sign of trouble. I don't know about anyone else but these victims are not the women I encounter in my day to day life. The women I know are fierce, tough with huge hearts.

I have trouble not with how Shakespeare wrote his plays because he wrote them with the view of his time period. I agree that the man can write a verse like no other. He was a genius and yet we need to consider the fact that times have changed.  If a modern actor like Ralph Fiennes chooses to direct Shakespeare's play, take liberties with cellphones and modern wars, add food crisis to keep it relevant, then why can't he take the time to make the young wife Virgilia have some sort of purpose? Why can't there a be a shot to show how she feels about her husband? Why can't she react to whats happening to her like a human being as opposed to the one-dimensional character that shakespeare wrote for her?

Why can't films and Theatre show the courage, the bravery, the beauty and complexity of women that Shakespeare neglected to show in his writing? 

Perhaps it could be argued that Shakespeare was a man of  his time and we should stick to the tradition of his work. Yet if we were to truly honour the old ways of Shakespeare's time then we would all be peeing on the theatre floor and throwing oranges at the actors. I would no doubt be a prostitute and most of us would have the plague. I'm not down for any of these things and if you are, then throw some prostitute money my way so I can write a kick-ass play with bad-ass women. And frankly I don't want to see another updated Shakespeare play or movie that is praised for it's modern adaptation when everything is changed except for the representations of women. Either perform the original version or do a thorough reworking of the Shakespeare text.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

"Walking On Broken Glass" is No Longer a Good Song


It took me a while to figure out if I wanted the world to know this story. I'm embarrassed and yet here I am.This past Saturday I left my place of work early to study for an exam I had on Monday. This was my last exam of University. My last day and then I was free. I could do anything. I had only a few days left to study and then I would officially be done school.

As I was getting ready to go see a friend's show that evening, I started making soup while boiling water for tea and talking to my friend on the phone. This in itself is a bad combination of multi-tasking. I know what you're thinking. This girl is going to tell you how she burnt herself or lit herself on fire. No. No this is not a bad p.s.a for fire. I hung up the phone and continued making soup. Then I opened my cupboard which is never organized or at the proper level of storage capacity. Suddenly some Bulk food (popcorn, i believe) fell out of my cupboard and landed on a wine glass that was resting very close to the edge of my counter. We have never had good counter space in my house. As the beautiful glass shot back at my face, I did what anyone would do. I shielded my face and jumped back. Unfortunately gravity worked against me. The glass smashed to the ground before I had safely landed. My darling right foot moved towards the ground and landed  a broken wine stem. HARDCORE.

I've taken first aid and done babysitter training. I know you aren't supposed to pull things out of your body when said things are sticking into you. But there was no choice. No second thought. That stem was pulled out of my foot as quickly as it went in. Here is a fun fact. Feet bleed. A LOT. The sound of gentle rain pierced my ears as blood pitter-pattered out of my foot, covering my floor like a scene from a Quentin Tarrantino film. I handled it like the strong independent woman that i am and SCREAMED. SCREAMED FOR MY ROOMMATES.  SCREAMED FOR MY LIFE.

No one was home. "This is the end" I thought." "My life...is over. I'm going to die before I graduate. Why did i waste my last days studying nutritional science???" I grabbed all the paper towel i could possibly find, found my new phone (which I barely know how to use). Everyone made fun of my old flip phone but at least i could dial it. I didn't need to use a secret swipe password and use the robot screen to maybe eventually find the dial pad which would inevitably call someone who wasn't in the same country anymore. Anyway, I managed to figure out my phone and  I called my brother.

I'd like to say that i've helped my brother out in emergency situations before...he just never seems to have them. In comparison, in my 5 years of University i've gone to the Emergency Room (not the doctor) 4 times. I've also gone countless times in high school and in elementary school but that's beside the point. I am a pretty good person and yet it just happens. The sad part is that I almost feel relieved being in the E.R because I know that if I need something there are so many trained professionals. The sad truth is that I have friends I can't call in emergency situations because i'm embarrassed about the amount of times they've taken me to the hospital.

As i was saying, I called my always calm  brother who answered, "Hey Laurel!" to which I replied "AHHHHHHHHHHH" and as I delicately screamed into my smartphone " I SLIT MY FOOOOOOOOOT", he unfortunately heard "I SLIT MY THROATTT!!!."

You can see how one can be mistaken for the other when someone is yelling and crying at you. However it tends to turn one bad situation into one hell of a serious one. As I said before, my brother is always calm BUT HE STARTED SCREAMING "CALL 911! CALL 911" to the crew around him....oh did i mention my brother was on a film set? Yes, of course he was.

 The people in the background started getting freaking out and then there is me  on the other end flipping out because my paper towel is bleeding through. "NO, NO! MY FOOT!" "WHAT?" he yelled. "I SLIT MY FOOOOOOOOT. Not my throat"

"OHHHHH....should i still come?"

"YES...I'M STILL BLEEDING!"

As I waited for my brother to come save my life, I realized that if i passed out no one would be able to get in my house because there are two doors that guard me from the outside world. I pulled myself through the broken glass, bum scooted down my stairs and started crawling towards my outside door. As I opened my front door and lay there bleeding, I saw people walking down the streets. Talking on their cellphones. I thought how happy they looked. I envied that they could use their phones. I remember being happy like that...I want my razor phone back.

As I waited, I thought what no girl should let herself think in a emergency situation. What...what if i don't make it? It was all very dramatic...BUT I WAS BLEEDING. I quickly mourned the life i would never lead and thought about how much my friends would miss me. Poor them! What would they do without me? Maybe they would mention me at their weddings or MAYBE  one of them would name their kid after me. Laurel the second. That sounds nice. How they would cry at my funeral... Oh god. I hope...I hope they don't read my journal. No wait, I told katy to burn them if I die before her. Okay. Well even if she reads them, she will be too full of remorse to show anyone else. Great!

Eventually my brother showed up with one of the guys from set. I tried to overcompensate for my current appearance and proceeded to explain my situation. "This always happens to Laurel" I told him. I explained that I was wearing shorts because my room was so hot and that I hadn't cleaned my room because I didn't know this would happen. I babbled on while my brother went upstairs and found my stuff. Health card, wallets, jacket and pants because it was in fact cold outside.  It was not short appropriate weather unless you were in my room.

My brother found me pants to cover my cold legs. This caused another set of  problems because I didn't want this total stranger to see me in my underwear. Therefore  i couldn't exactly take my shorts off to put on the pants. So I decided  that the next best thing would be to put my jean pants over top of my jean shorts...not the most practical choice. I couldn't get them done up because my one hand was compressing my foot. So as my brother carried me out of my house, my foot bleeding and my pants open, I thought it really can't get much more embarrassing than this. It was for sure a highlight in my life.

Finally, we were off to the hospital and I had to call my friends, skipping over the ones who have paid their laurel goes to the E.R quota for a lifetime. "Yes, yes i'm going to the hospital. No, don't worry. Toronto Western again...yup. No need to come." I couldn't get a hold of parents and didn't even bother to leave a message. I was piggybacked into the E.R and there I waited. To be honest, it wasn't that bad.

I made a lot of friends. I like meeting new people and I've sort of become a expert at E.R introductions. The triage nurse told me all about her kids. The security guard and I quickly made a agreement  that he would push me around for the rest of my life. How I love a good inside joke.The man beside me, threw up right in front of me and later pointed at my foot and smiled. I took this gesture as a good thing but perhaps he was delirious from his temperature. I made other friends mostly because they felt sorry for me...they thought I lost my foot. "No, no, just sliced it open" I laughed. One girl told me about the time she smashed her toe completely. To which i replied, "That's fucking disgusting." She told me about all of her past injuries. I felt like we bonded, this girl and me. We were both veterans of the E.R. The whole situation was really funny. In hindsight, i think i was in shock...but during I thought "man i'm on fire." Even the mumbling women near me had a laugh or two...however that could have been whatever drug she was on.

Finally I got my foot glued together and patched up. I got a Tetanus shot for good measure and some x-rays to check if there was glass in my foot. Check, check, check. Even my doctor was nice!

All and all, I had a fantastic four and a half hours with my darling friend Miriam at Toronto Western hospital. We were supposed to go to our friend's show together so we decided to "go with the flow" and continue our date night. Just at the hospital...instead of the theatre. In the end, Mir and I took a glamorous taxi ride home and ordered Indian food. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday. As for hospitals, I think i'm over them. Sure, it was fun but it's also a bad habit I want to give up. After I heal, I will retire my crutches for good.  No more E.R fun for me, thank you very much! As for wine glasses... I think from now on i'm going to drink from the bottle...and possibly clean out my cupboard.
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