Alibi V.26 No.46 • Nov 16-22, 2017 

Culture Shock

The Language of Liberation

Tricklock Company becomes the site of revolution at the start of their 24th season

Katy Houska, Elsa Menéndez, Diana Delgado, Drew Morrison and Juli Hendren
Tricklock Company members Katy Houska, Elsa Menéndez, Diana Delgado, Drew Morrison and Juli Hendren all star in REVOLT. SHE SAID. REVOLT AGAIN.
Tricklock Company

Does life even pass the Bechdel test? It's one of a thousand sly questions the small cast of Alice Birch's REVOLT. REVOLT SHE SAID. REVOLT AGAIN. asks. And from Nov. 16 to Dec. 2, the players of Tricklock Company will be aiming those questions at local theater-goers. The play—which made its stateside premiere just last year in Manhattan—interrogates the experience of women in the 21st century and how language shapes that experience and further, how it corrupts, mystifies and insinuates violence. REVOLT (shorthand here) asks familiar questions, but does so in startling ways (trigger warning—maybe unsettling ones, too). Ahead of the play's opening Thursday night kicking off the company's 24th season, Director Hannah Kauffmann took some time to tell us what moved her about this script, and how Tricklock is staging the revolt in our city.

Alibi: What attracted you to the script?

Kauffmann: The language of REVOLT has an incredible structure to it. It says what it wants to say, it asks the questions it needs answered, and it does so without apology, without pretense and often without a real answer. It’s not a simple play, but it provides a simple platform for challenging conversations. It’s full of women being truthful—often to the point of hilarity—about what they want. It describes a universe where there are no questions of “Will he still like me after I say I don’t like that thing he just did?” “Will I still have a job after I ask for the time off I need to be a productive human?” It’s just understood in this world that you say the hard things—and if people don’t respond well to your asking reasonably for the things you need, it’s on them, not you. The first time I read the script, I laughed until I cried. Alone in my house, laughing and trying to figure out if I was feeling thrilled or furious or galvanized. I had a very intense, very visceral reaction to it—I remember being strangely reminded of that meme, the one with women laughing alone eating salad, like your salad is supposed to be this utterly charming thing you experience in secret, and I remember thinking so clearly, “Fuck being joyful about salad. I will be joyful at home planning a revolution.”

Did directing the production lead to any new revelations about the play's contents?

Absolutely. What gave me the most insight, actually, was the casting process—the script doesn’t have character delineations, just lines to clarify a change of speaker, so I was able to spend serious time with the script determining the path of each performer and how that might resonate with an audience. What became clearer and clearer to me … is that the line between character and performer here is paper thin, as is the line between performer and audience member. REVOLT presents a near-universal experience of womanhood and allowance in existence. [And] it’s led the whole creative team to really analyze their real-world interactions. We’ve shared experiences of finding ourselves (even) less tolerant of sexism, more likely to speak up in the face of injustice and less likely to apologize.

Fuck being joyful about salad. I will be joyful at home planning a revolution.

Hannah Kauffmann

What would a man stand to gain from attending? What would a woman?

I think that as humans, our job is to try to further understand the point of view of the person next to us, and this piece offers insight into a human experience you may not be familiar with. It’s timely, relevant, and hilarious, and while it definitely has moments where you'll think “Oh, yeah, I know this situation,” it never feels like preaching to the choir. It’s a story, not a lecture.

What is the role of language here?

What’s the difference between “make love to” and “make love with?” … Who is in charge of the situation? If you’re having trouble with that one because of the sexual aspect, try “I’m going to bathe you,” and “I’m going to bathe with you.” One of those sentences implies that you’re engaging in a mutually decided upon activity and one implies that there is a person in charge and a person who is an object, a person incapable, perhaps, of bathing themselves. If you think about this as a one-off, it’s easy to disregard. But if you imagine a lifetime of that language in sexual situations, a lifetime of being relegated to the role of an object … the one who things are always being done to, it’s far easier to see the long-term impact of that language. So, what if we did, all of us, take moments to correct the language being used? What if we all did take a moment to say “Hey—I’m involved here; this isn’t being done to me. Recognize my importance.” What if we demanded it? What could change?

Is there anything that might distinguish a Tricklock production of this play from a production elsewhere?

Tricklock aims to engage. It’s not in our nature to produce work that is meant only to be seen from an audience perspective and then to be thought about at home. Our work is timely, it aims to shed light on the human experience, and to tell stories of the people in our communities. All of our shows include time and space to engage in conversation post-show, to meet performers, designers, to talk—to tell your own story of what you saw onstage. To share your own experience of the subject.

Was there anything that was challenging or emotional to approach?

The most emotional moments, for me, have been the ones that I know, the ones that I see every day in my own life and my community—moments of asking for time off because my quality of life is in the garbage and thinking “Do they think I’m not tough enough to do this job?” Or every time I’ve let a sexist comment slide because I am just too tired to address it, or when I let a comment slide because I’m working that day in an environment that is definitely a “boys club” and I don’t want to seem “hard.” … While exaggerated, this show is about life, and it wouldn’t exist if it weren’t based on real experiences that happen in front of every one of us, every day. And then, for all of us, going home at night and asking the questions: Why am I afraid of being “hard?” If we were all “hard,” would it start to get easier?

What makes you most excited to be bringing this play to Albuquerque?

Making art in Albuquerque is a gift—audiences are so informed on social and community issues and so open to new ideas and new presentations [and] shake-ups of traditional ideas. … It’s big, it’s hilarious, it’s fast, and it’s unapologetic, and I am so pleased to be bringing it here.

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