As a writer tackling classical work and characters I’ve not had a problem feeling a contemporary resonance in the words, performance, character, form of anything we have produced. Yet, with Jessica In Spring I specifically wanted to address the tone, vitriol and horrendous narrative that has become a part of our politics, our media and our life over the past few years.
Brexit, Trump – 2016 was a year that apart from anything else legitimised voices that Othered. ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ – let’s blame poor people, people with a disability, different gender, immigrants, those who do not look like us. Let us not turn in and look at ourselves, let us not look to work together; let us point fingers and be rude, because that is Presidential, isn’t it?*
So Jessica came out of this place, of giving a voice to this Other – to someone who is Othered by circumstances, birth and also in her choices. Her choice to convert and marry out of her religion gives her some level of acceptance in society but she can never truly become part of the world she has made the choice to ‘join’ because she knows it for the sham it is. Like those of us who are Othered, she knows much more of the world and her place in it than someone who has never been in that situation. I wanted her to articulate the fierceness that comes with this knowledge.
The concept of privilege is interesting to me because awareness has some bearing upon it but also those who are resolutely unaware often have the most. Jessica is privileged in some ways but she’s also Jewish and a woman in a time where she was legally a chattel of first her father and then her husband. It her experience as the Other experience that rounds her person into who her husband fell in love with – she dares the listener and him to accept her for all she is, shadows and all – rather than a beautiful construct of a good little wife. Ultimately that’s who we all are. People. I think Jessica speaks of that.
In Spring too, we have all these connotations of ‘new life’ and ‘rebirth’ of the year but this can be sad too. She is someone (in our version) who actively embraces this duality. I think her words in voiceover over the moving images works really nicely to communicate this. There are layers to her that she won’t deny.
So please watch AND listen – both, together, separately. She has something other to say.
*FFS. No it’s not and I know Orange McOrangeFace won’t read this but omg, ew, what an awful excuse for a human.