SCUM: A Manifesto Is The Feminist Fringe Show We Need
By: Ezekiel McAdams
May 22 2017
After an audacious debut at Saskatoon Fringe 2016, SCUM: A Manifesto, is returning in a revamped production to hit the Canadian Fringe circuit this summer, stopping in Montreal, Hamilton and Edmonton.
The play comes from Saskatoon Theatre company, Scantily Glad Theatre, founded in 2014 by Sarah Grummett and Caitlin Zacharias, SCUM, is the company's second show. The Loveseat premiered in Saskatoon Fringe 2015.
SCUM which is based on the infamous manifesto, of the same name, written by activist Valerie Solanas, found its way to Grummett, as she was working on a class project for a theatre history course.
"Caitlin, there was this woman who shot Andy Warhol and wrote this book about killing all men, I think this is it, and very much like our characters in the play, she was like check this out and I was like, I'll take a look, and it was like, yeah we could write about chopping some dicks off." Zacharias recalled.
The original iteration had Grummett and Zacharias playing dual roles, modern day teenagers, Robyn and Marie and the past, where Zacharias played Solanos with Grummett playing Warhol. The characters remain the same for the new iteration.
The duo recalled mixed reviews during the tenure. "It was polarized. Either it was like, thank you for the show, thank you for willing to be so passionate about feminism and unapologetic. That was one reaction, we'd get from the women, and the other criticism, is we'd get from older men, not all the men, including our reviewer, like my dad didn't really get it. And I just think like it's unrelatable, it's an issue where they don't really understand where all the anger comes from. " Zacharias said.
Inspired by last fall's U.S Presidential. election, Grummett and Zacharias remembered feeling angry and frustrated and wanted to be more involved in the conversation, which breathed new life into the play. "This was a fun show, and we both felt this is our first really piece of really good work and slap our names on, something we've poured a lot into." Zacharias said "I think having time off between last summer's Fringe and now, it kept sizzling and bubbling, so when we came back to write it, it was really easy. I thought we were going to fight the whole time." Grummett added.
During this time, the play went through many workshops, including Spring Fest 2017, where the actors got some encouraging words. "I think Spring Fest, we had an amazing team, and they gave us the reassurance and confidence that like you're going to piss a lot of people off, that's the point, this is a political piece and some people aren't going to agree with it" Grummett said.
It was also during Spring Fest, that another revelation happened, through feedback, the original ending changed. "We realized, Vern Thiessen and Emma (Tibaldo) brought this up, in the original ending, women became the butt end of the joke, where they're so stupid, they kill themselves because of their stupidity and ignorance. What we've done with this draft, sure they come from a place of ignorance, but as they start to broaden and learn, and we do let them learn, we let them wake up, as me and Sarah did, they grow and start accomplishing things and getting shit done. " Zacharias said " They're very much our own story. " Grummett added.
The revamp also comes with changes behind the scenes. with Danielle Spilchen directing and Laura Andreas coming on as the stage manager. The duo are now invigorated, and during the interview, their enthusiasm was contagious. "Women's stories aren't being told and when they are, they're being told by men." Grummett said " Despite their best interests, I think as much as men want to help, instead of worrying about how valid your voice for women is, maybe, have the respect to step aside and push forward voices that otherwise wouldn't get heard. It's like playing with toys in kindergarten, it's my turn now!" Zacharias added.
Both actors personal lives have also dictated the play's new direction. "When you're frustrated about being called 'sweetheart' at work all the time, even though you've asked ten times not to be, You feel so powerless. There's a lot of situations, we're I'm like, yes, I'm a feminist and I consider myself to be a pretty tenacious female, there's still situations, we're you still can't speak up. You have to pick your battles, and the battles that you don't have the energy to fight for, that just internalizes and that's just weight that we carry around. So it's nice to have a play, where it's a bunch of women who get to act on that frustration." Zacharias said.
The tour's stop, which includes, the Montreal, Hamilton and Edmonton Fringes, has the duo excited and curious about the reception in those cities. "I'm excited to enter cities where I don't have to worry about coming out as a feminist. Zacharias said "Yeah, coming out as a feminist, where it's like a bad word. The F word." Grummett added.
The other change they're interested in, is how their new ending will play with both audiences and each city's artistic and political climates. "I think what we're accomplishing with this new ending, is leaving the audience with this sense, of course radical feminism is bad and of course we shouldn't kill all men, but maybe, if we did, some things would get fixed." Grummett said.
SCUM: A Manifesto can be seen at the Montreal Fringe (June 8-18th), Hamilton Fringe (July 20-30) and Edmonton Fringe (Aug 17-27) . More information can be found at https://www.scantilygladtheatre.com as well as box office information for each individual Fringe programs. https://montrealfringe.ca/ http://hamiltonfringe.ca/
"We want this audience to walk away with is, we want to put a gun in the hands of women, a metaphorical gun, in terms of making some changes or recognizing that things are not ok, and that we don't have to sit down and shut up about it. " Grummett said.
UPDATE: As of June 29, The play has completed its run in Montreal to a glowing review by Montreal Theatre Hub http://montrealtheatrehub.com/2017/06/10/fringe-review-scum-a-dark-comedy-and-feminist-call-to-arms/
SCUM: A Manifesto can be seen at the Hamilton Fringe (July 20-30) and Edmonton Fringe (Aug 17-27) . More information can be found at https://www.scantilygladtheatre.com as well as box office information at each individual Fringe programs.