• Plastic pots & empty promises


    Et un troisième article sur How to be a Modern Marvel®? après l'annonce de la nomination de l'équipe pour les Fringe Awards 2013.


    Plastic pots & empty promises


    [Avec une vraie photo des comédiennes cette fois!]


    "The audience is left in no doubt that the promises of freedom and opportunity are as empty as the plastic pots on display"


    “Welcome," breathes a tall lady wearing a bright yellow 1950s dress and a cream head band, ushering me into a room on the second floor of the Institute. Positioned by the fireplace are two equally glossy young women, with strong French accents, who make me feel instantly five times shabbier than I did in the foyer.

    My inferiority complex lessens as I realise that their demure, permanently smiling demeanours are all part of the act. We have unwittingly wandered into a sales pitch, masquerading as a play. This isn’t your average touting as you walk by the perfume counter at the department store however, this is the hard sell laid bare. Luckily the audience is not the direct target; the ‘manageress’ and the ‘franchisee’ are selling their lifestyle to the ‘trainee’.

    Mariette Navarro’s Prodiges©, translated by Katherine Mendelsohn to How To Be A Modern Marvel© explores the occupation of female-run franchises in post World War II France. Was it exploitation or empowerment? As a role that wouldn't interfere with the woman's core business (such as being present at mealtimes or absent when her husband returns home from work); franchise selling was then a popular employment for married, largely uneducated women living in the countryside.

    “Shouldn't we mention the products we're selling?” asks the trainee innocently, mirroring my thoughts, but the manageress flashes a glare in response. What a crude suggestion. She’d prefer instead to wax lyrical on the journey that each of her saleswomen has undertaken to reach full ‘franchisee’ status. These narratives, incidentally, are the real-life personal accounts of each cast member’s grandmother.

    With the brand story consolidated, it's finally time to see the goods. The manageress presents a jewellery box, and after taunting us with it for a few minutes, she withdraws... a Tupperware pot. The age of plastic is upon us, and as the pastel containers are heaped in front of us, the age is looking increasingly like a Disneyland castle.  There’s a touch of black comedy as the actions are verbalised by a need “to rebuild” on a national level.

    By the play’s conclusion, the audience is left in no doubt that the promises of freedom and opportunity are as empty as the plastic pots on display. But deciphering whether there is a clear agenda underpinning the performance is harder; the Stepford wives lines are difficult to swallow, but also to rail against, given that franchise selling is still an employment of choice for many cash strapped women around the country today.

    Article de Sally Brammal dans The Big Issue ici.

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