Friday, May 8, 2009

All Men vs. All Women

Forever Plaid, the musical, was much of what it was reviewed to be: mainly, funny. I really enjoyed the show, enjoyed the theater (which was one I hadn't been to before), and enjoyed the company. I still can't pinpoint what that "live" feel is, what makes an in-person performance resonate differently than a filmed one. Part of it might be that they walked down among the audience during certain parts, though I've been to plays where they've remained exclusively on stage, basically ignoring the audience, and still felt that presence.

Maybe that's it: maybe it's the fact that even though the actors on stage appear, for the most part, oblivious of the audience, in actuality, nearly their whole focus is on the people watching them. They're in tune with their audience, sort of feeding them energy, and the audience in turn feeds it back to them. You don't get that with film. I imagine it'd be hard to remember that there's going to be an audience sitting in a dark theater or reclining on their sofas at home watching you when you're filming on a set, where everything you see as the actor is cameras and cameramen, directors, and lighting.

Either way, Forever Plaid made me think of something totally unrelated: women. Specifically, the movie The Women (2008). I recently thoroughly enjoyed this film, and I was struck, about halfway through the film, to realize that I hadn't seen a single male actor. Not in the main cast and not in the extras. Whenever there was a man, he was always referenced or talked to through the phone, his side of the conversation never seen nor heard.

It was fascinating and refreshing to see women carry the entire movie, from the foreground to the background. I watched the extra stuff on the DVD and found out that, as I expected, the choice was intentional. In fact, the producer (female) made it a point of hiring as many women as possible to work behind the scenes, too. It was wonderfully refreshing—both the all-woman cast and the fact that the film celebrated women and their positive roles with each other (vs. movies which seem to claim to do the same, but actually focus entirely on the male leads and the women's obsessions with men, or worse, their negative relationships with each other; think What Women Want or Dr. T and the Women).

How did Forever Plaid lead me to this? Forever Plaid had an all-male cast (if you don't count the one line from a woman who didn't even get to step on stage, merely handed one of the lead actors something—and I don't). The singers were male and the musicians were male. Perhaps it was viewing The Women that made me notice it. It didn't detract from the production, but I still noticed.


TikiBird said...

I haven't seen the new version, but I watched the old version of The Women on TV a while ago, and I didn't realize until it was over and the commentary started that there weren't any men in it! LOL At least you realized it during the movie!

Rebecca Chastain said...

TikiBird, I bet you would like the new movie. The emphasis on the original (from what I saw in the making-of parts of the DVD) seemed to be all about the men—how to get them, keep them, and keep other women away from them. This one's more about how the bonds women create, the friendships they make, make us all stronger and are just as important, if not more so, than the bonds created with men (especially those that cheat!).