I’m Sure She Meant Well…
Written by Lee Minora, creator and performer of White Feminist, the scathing morning talk show comedy coming to UMS Feb 3-9, 2020 .
F*ck Megyn Kelly, right? As a liberal, a comic, and a feminist theater-maker, Kelly stood for everything I was against. Her conservative politics, her role as a Fox News evangelist, and her unapologetic racist comments; such as “Santa is white,” had earned her a place on my boycotted-celebrities list. When she came forward with her #metoo story, I’ll be honest, I was kind of fascinated. A Fox propaganda darling breaking lock step to call out her leader, Roger Ailes, was certainly unexpected and maybe kind of badass? But by the time Trump said she had “blood coming out of her wherever” I found myself in my living room, mouth gaping saying “how dare he!” Oh god, what was this twinge? Could it be sympathy? How could I want to defend someone I also wanted to dismantle? Was she really so bad? I’m sure she meant well.
Steeped in the discomfort of my newfound sympathy for Megyn Kelly I conceived of White Feminist. I was thinking a lot about good intentions; the good intentions of allies; of liberals, of the theater, and of white feminists, including myself. I felt tired of the theater of good intentions: theater that seemed to congratulate theater-goers rather than rouse them. I forged White Feminist in the fires of that frustration: frustration with the traditional playwriting model that leaves work frozen in time, the stale fourth wall, and the failures of well-meaning white women. I aimed to make a piece that’s elastic and can refresh as fast as the news cycle can, that capitalizes on the liveness of theater, and that skews and dissects the failings of non-intersectional feminism.
All of my work starts with a discomforting question. With White Feminist the question is: How do white women navigate their dual roles as oppressed and oppressor? My work is fueled by a desire to perfect the recipe for urgent, hilarious, and socially conscious work. In order to make White Feminist’s cultural critique scorch audiences, I employ a French performance style called bouffon clown. The bouffon clown is the master of mockery (think Borat or Stephen Colbert.) The story goes that the bouffon were the outcasts of Paris society who were only allowed in the city once a year to perform for the King’s amusement. At their performance, the king would laugh and laugh. It was only on the way home in his carriage that he realized: they were making fun of him.
Using bouffon clown, I weld vital, feminist themes and narratives with audience/performer interactions resulting in work that’s as much a warm embrace as it is a pointed finger. I salivate at the prospect of weaponized comedic, pleasure-filled theater that turns call-out culture on myself, my audience, and our own ideals. I’m making performance that brings the people in the room to their knees with laughter but then leaves them unable to stand up when they actually get the joke: themselves. White Feminist is good intentions, (in)sincere apologies, and liberal guilt, blended in a complex comedy smoothie. If it goes down easier for some more than others; that is only because it reflects the work we have left to do.