There are many improv styles and groups in the world and each has it’s own relationship with female characters and players. From my many encounters, here are some things that I think we can do as women for women to help us all have a super time on stage. And by women, I mean those who identify as such.
Help other women be heard
Women in Obama’s Administration found that they could help one another be heard and acknowledged by ‘amplification’. Rather than being talked over or having their ideas claimed and reframed, they would repeat and credit one another’s ideas until they were taken on board by the other players.
Validate other women’s choices
We have learned ‘yes, and’ and you can push it even further with super agreement. If an idea is crazy or something doesn’t make sense, you can always justify it or reframe it in a way that makes your lady friend look like a hero. Instead of asking her to clarify or expecting her to fix it, help her out.
Write better parts for women
You are the writer of this improv show. Right now. You can pen the most perfect dialogue and strong, interesting, three-dimensional characters; no matter how they are framed. Get away from generic and make your ‘wife, mother, whore’ specific as all hell and probably a part-time scientist too…
Be quick to be slow
Sometimes the alpha in the room worries that you don’t have ideas or can’t make quick choices. Perhaps you’re the kind of player that likes character, emotion and subtext, which many need a second to form. That’s fine; start dynamically as if to say ‘I got this’ and then take your sweet time.
Play men you know
We have to pay it back too. Sick of men playing women by miming long hair, cupping their boobs and affecting a high voice? Let’s not do the same back. Cut out the ball scratching and instead play a man you know in real life. You know how he would be in this situation and then none of us are playing in broad strokes, we’re playing in nuance. A full character is not an accent, so why should they be a gender?
Challenge your own bias
You need to be a fire-fighter, astronaut or pirate on stage? Choose to play a female one. We have more female doctors than male, yet they’re often the male in a scene. Change it up.
Play named female characters in a scene that talk to one another about something other than a man.
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