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  • Writer's pictureJamal Gerald

Am I Being Problematic?

Updated: Apr 21, 2018

The process of ‘Dogmatic’ has been an interesting one. I have currently hit another block. I think that’s because I need to work with an audience again. I won’t be doing that until October. Making an ‘interactive’ performance is so hard! There’s a bunch of things that I am slightly worried about. But, that’s inevitable. The research is also having an impact on my mental health, I need to think about self-care. Try to make sure I take an appropriate amount of time away from research but I can’t. I want to make sure that the show is the best that it can be. It’s the perfectionist in me, I can’t help it.

The piece has developed a lot since my last sharing at Theatre Deli. I have added myself within the text a bit more. I shine a light on why I chose to make this work and my personal experience of being dogmatic. I was trying my very best to not make another autobiographical piece. But, I guess I am. It’s best not to try and force things because it will end up backfiring. This time round I am including other people’s thoughts and not just my own. I believe this will make the piece much more entertaining. It’s good when you’re not stuck in your own head.

With doing the research, it’s quite fascinating and annoying being in the middle. Because I can see where both sides are coming from. I also believe that it is helping me with understanding my views a bit more and making my arguments stronger. I personally favour when one debates off of logic and evidence. Not emotion. There’s nothing wrong with being emotional but we’re not going to get anywhere if we’re just complaining about what one has experienced all day. It’s probably best to have both logic and emotion, just to balance each other out. Both need each other. I keep noticing that the right and the left can be as bad as each other. And to be honest, both sides are getting on my last nerves. That’s why I choose to not associate myself with either. Although, I am probably much more left-wing than I am right.

That leads me to another issue, which is not referencing enough academia. That’s because I want the piece to be as accessible as possible. Not every audience member will understand scholarly language. I’m already using terminology that some people may not know. But then again, I don’t want the piece to become patronising when I tell audiences what some words means. There’s also the issue of academia having a liberal bias. In order to make the piece much more engaging, I’m going to have to get material from other sources. I guess I’m just worried that some audience members won’t take the piece seriously. Especially, when seeing that the bibliography is not just scholarly text. However, it’s important for the piece to have both left-wing and right-wing views. Just so the audience can witness each side challenging each other. This will then end with the audience deciding for themselves which argument works best for them.

Another thing is people taking me seriously when critiquing aspects of feminism. Because I acknowledge the fact that I am a cisgender man when speaking on this. However, whenever someone in a privileged position talks about something, it will always be seen as problematic. I think about Jane Elliott who is a white woman and how well she speaks about racial issues. However, she isn’t necessarily doing the same thing as me. She’s more critiquing the system and not an ideology. It’s such a tricky one. There will always be the element of “you’re a man, so what do you know?”. I hope the audiences realises that both feminism and women are not interchangeable. Because I do believe that some people may think if I critique feminism, then I am possibly critiquing women and that is not the case. I will need to make sure that I am not saying that women don’t experience things. Because of course they do, I am also not in their shoes. Therefore, it wouldn’t be fair for me to say otherwise. If I don’t do that and make sure I have strong enough evidence to back up what I’m saying, hopefully everything will be okay. I need to accept that this piece is not going to please everyone. It shouldn’t either, because if it does, then that means I am possibly doing something wrong. The most important thing is for me to be happy with it and I am not stopping until I am.

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