‘Gender Monologues’ – interactive media installation
Gender Monologues is an interactive media installation challenging our historical and cultural understanding of gender, taking us beyond the limitations of stereotypes in an innovative and magical way.
Theater has a long history of cross- dressing and gender impersonation, reaching as far as the ancient Greek stage. Even today the stage remains a special zone where the probing of sexual identity and the reconsideration of gender boundaries becomes the very essence of a historic act.
In this project, we explore how individuals with a history of creating theatrical illlusions, relate to their own intimate role-playing fantasies, crossing gender boundaries and finding ways to display them for public viewing.
The installation consists of six filmed life-size portraits of actors, each impersonating their favourite character of the opposite sex, recited in six-minute monologues. The monologues are extracted from, or inspired by lines delivered by remarkable characters in drama and literature, both historical and contemporary.
During the 36 minute-installation all actors remain present, while only one voice speaks at a time. Between silence and the spoken word, the intrinsic tension of border zones is redefined and turned into a poetic exercise of alterity. The result is multidimensional: portraits of our time containing speeches and visions that bring revealing thoughts and insightful conversations about identity, revolution and desire in what feels like a personal confrontation with each actor.
The merging of literature, performance, film, the criss-crossing of time and genders, invites us to rethink our biases about one art form always taking precedence over another. There is an interesting suspension between the real and the imaginary, not quite ‘here’ and not quite ‘there’. The audience experiences in 36 minutes the constant presence of all 6 actors silently facing the public, confronting themselves with being present in silence as they remain in their particular roles and only one speaks at a time. The interaction which occurs between the actors generates the illusion that they are actually reacting to each other and maintaining a kind of dialogue.
In the pilot project, a Dutch-Brazilian co-production, Cinderella meets Martin Luther King Jr. who meets Antoine Artaud, who meets Maria Cecilia Nachtergaele, who meets Lyubov Andreievna, who meets Hamlet. Between theatre and film, literature and photography, voice, movement, and the diversity of cultures, we recognize in this piece the potential to create a global dialogue. Recently in Paramaribo three actors were added, who selected the roles of Marilyn Monroe, James Baldwin and Malcolm X.
We challenge static, mental and cultural conventions by giving back the imagination to the limitations on gender and sexual identity. After experiencing the success of the installation in Brazil and Suriname, the project is now ready to be rolled out globally, integrating actors from each country where it is shown. Each actor’s choice is a reflection of their own culture, creating in this way a ‘cross-casted library of cultures’. Intercultural participation is an essential element of this installation. Each actor speaks the monologue in the language of his/her country of origin (translation provided).
Gender Monologues was selected by ‘Dutch Manifestations Abroad’ with the Dutch Performing Arts Fund in 2016 , making it possible to realize the pilot project in Brazil. The result was beyond expectation, reaching a total of 21,500 visitors in 13 weeks. The Mondriaan Fund supported the first research phase for the expansion of Gender Monologues to other countries. We are now looking forward towards collaborating with venues and festivals abroad.
Please have a look at our website for an impression of the installation, the press etc: www.gendermonologues.com