“How can I be sorry for something that never happened?”
Seven years have passed, one night still haunts. When the drink flows and music pounds, can you truly trust your memories? MEAT is a daring exploration of the aftershock of sexual assault revelations, as one rough night threatens to change two lives forever.
I got a chance to speak with ‘MEAT’ writer, Gillian Greer, about her new upcoming project; chatting to her about the creation of the piece and what the audience can expect.’MEAT’ will play in the Smock Alley Theatre on the 17th and 18th of February.
What inspired you to create this piece?
Honestly, I was really inspired by a lot of the backlash against young women whose art is made up of their own personal experience – the Taylor Swifts and Lena Dunhams of the world. As a woman, it can be dangerous to tell your own story. You are seen as vindictive, while men who do the same are raw and honest. When you make the decision to open up and reveal your very personal trauma and pain in a public space, you can end up hurting family members, friends, lovers and exes, and get vilified in the process. I suppose the question I came to was, can you stay strong in the face of all that? Is it worth it?
Who is involved and what made them want to be involved?
I’m working with an incredible team of creatives – Louisa Sanfey and Kelley Gissane whom I’ve worked with before, as well as a bloody good cast – Kwaku Fortune, Eimear Keating and Dee Burke. I think it’s exciting to be part of an largely female team telling a contemporary story about sex, especially one that suddenly feels quite relevant to what’s happening in society. I also hope they like the play!
Why does the play focus on a victims experience years on. Why not the immediate weeks after?
Why not? Being sexually assaulted is a real violation, the hurt and trauma of which doesn’t exactly carry an expiry date. I think the reason I’m so interested in this particular time frame is because five or six years ago we didn’t have the same vocabulary around consent we do now. A lot of people my age are revising experiences that they thought were just regrettable or messy nights and realising that there was perhaps something more sinister going on. It’s an important but painful shift in society, I think, and has lead to some pretty difficult conversations.
Why is the message of the productions so important right now?
I hope that MEAT avoids a message that’s too clear cut. Obviously, hot on the heels of Harvey Weinstein and #MeToo, it’s vital that stories like this one send a message that we should support and believe women who speak out about assault, but I’m passionate about dramatising the male perspective of this story too. How do you be a good ally? Is it possible to atone for your past mistakes, to redeem yourself? Rather than overt and distinct messages, I think it’s empathy that we really need right now.
What do you hope an audience walks away with when they see this play?
A new perspective, and maybe something to argue about over a pint after the show.
Where does the title of the show come from?
Come see the show and find out 😉
MEAT by Gillian Greer
17th & 18th February at 8PM
Smock Alley Theatre, Main Space
Tickets €8 concession / €10
Interview by Kevin Worrall