I LOVE it when a production delivers way more than I expected!
Last week, I attended Synchronicity Theatre’s production of Anne Boleyn, a revisionist take on Queen Anne’s romance and marriage to King Henry VIII. As the story is also a part of Christian church history, I expected to experience it through a theological, Protestant reformation lens. However, I was not prepared for the extent to which Howard Brenton’s (playwright) approach would affect me.
I was struck by our historically persistent narrative of the perceived threat of woman to power. We sisters today call it our Black Girl Magic. Every subset of woman has it, though, a way about her, a mystique that changes, transforms, influences, causes things to happen … and threatens. Instead of celebrating this phenomenon, the world tends to criticize and condemn it – I suppose because it cannot control it.
Henry’s (played by Brian Hatch) attraction to (fueled by his weakness for her ankles!) and I assume, love for, Anne (played by Brooke Owens) changed the world as they knew it. As Cardinal Wolsey (played by Kerwin Thompson) faced off with Anne – and lost, in her I saw all the women charged with threats to/falls of/losses of power (read the downfall of a man that wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for the woman – and/or the loss of a way of life as the people knew it, because of the woman), including: Eve, Delilah, Jezebel, Helen of Troy, Hester Prynne, Joan of Arc, Wallis Simpson, Princess Diana, Duchess Camilla, Olivia Pope … (What are the names you would add to this list?) We can actually list other women whom we know personally, in our communities, who are just a little too sexy, a little too influential, a little too helpful … for their own good.
And then I think about our current US presidential election and the threat that Hillary Clinton has always posed. She’s simply too smart and capable, regardless of people’s determinations about her trustworthiness. Still today, too many men seem incapable of dealing with smart, capable women – much less, able to do so well. They seem not to be able to separate us from our pussies – a term I use, in this context, to represent this magic that is always desired, yet must always be guarded against (despite Donald Trump’s and others’ misogynistic use of the word) – must always be controlled. Maya Angelou called it the diamonds at the meeting of our thighs. The thing is, though, you cannot control magic. I even wonder if the attempt to do so contributes to the conflicts and the downfalls that are blamed on woman.
This “magic” does not have to be overwhelming. I refuse to accept that men are not capable of being more holistic, well-rounded and not beholden to the ankles or to the pussy – scapegoats for a man’s inability (or lack of choice, courage) to make mature, wise decisions. Where is your magic, brother? Are you selling yourself short? Could it be that if you live fully into your magic, you might be able to meet mine somewhere in the heavens and really transform the world?
Perhaps it is male privilege that keeps men settled in being and doing just enough, that prevents them from doing the inner work that results in healthier and more balanced approaches to women. Humanity can be lazy; we don’t do anything remotely hard unless we have to do so. Unpacking misogyny, privilege, oppression, etc. is difficult and taxing, especially for people conditioned to be out of touch and uncomfortable with their own emotions and the plights of non-privileged persons.
Towards the end of Anne’s story, the overall narrative continues as Henry discards this amazing love of his life in favor of another woman for pleasure and purpose of offspring. The less-thans continue to be commodities and pawns in the hands of those who have and wield power – political, economic, personal, sexual, etc. Is this the fate of humanity? A persistent game of chance and chess, where our most intimate and compelling desires are subject to the callous and calculated choices of life that seek to maintain power and privilege?
I am not a rose-colored glasses type of gal, but I surely hope that we can more than create spaces in our lives free of calculation, that there are sacred spaces protected from such manipulation. I hope that our loves and passions can be enjoyed and even consumed without threats and jockeying for position and power. Let not the beauty of our vulnerabilities be so stained. Rather let it bloom and produce more beauty, appreciated for the wonder – and even the loss of control it can cause in our souls.
(c) 2016 candi dugas, llc