Billie Grace 0:00
Zoë Glen 0:00
Billie Grace 0:03
We are back. Ah, how are you Zoe?
Zoë Glen 0:07
I am Good. How are you?
Billie grace 0:09
I am good. I'm a little bit melty because Rome decided it was 30 degrees today in May.
Zoë Glen 0:15
Billie Grace 0:17
so if I sound melty, it's because I am.
Zoë Glen 0:24
Welcome back to Episode Three of The Not-God Pod. Thank you for coming back.
Billie Grace 0:33
Yes, thank you very much for coming back. And we hope you enjoy today in which we have decided to talk about professional titled gay stuff. Part One
Zoë Glen 0:48
in follow up from feminists rambles part one,
Billie Grace 0:52
yes. We have realised that unless we figure out like a ridiculously structured plan and what like, basically a script, we are never going to tell you everything that we actually want to say in one episode. So in nature of us wanting to keep this kind of relaxed, chatty atmosphere, you're just gonna get lots of parts of the things that we want to talk about. I hope you're okay with that.
Zoë Glen 1:26
So this is going to be kind of an introduction to our thoughts on gay stuff formally known as like, I guess, going into the like, queer theory realm talking about queer spaces, how that exists in theatre. All that kind of a thing? Yes. Prepare for a ramble.
Billie Grace 1:51
I think we mentioned last time about this project that we're developing, that we're looking into queer time and theory of queer time versus chrononormativity. So maybe we won't talk too much about that today. But that is like our current research, I suppose regarding gay stuff.
Zoë Glen 2:16
Yeah, kind of like,
what does the amount of heteronormativity in art and literature and the idea that a woman has to have a man, what does that? What does that mean?
Billie Grace 2:29
Yeah what does that mean?
Zoë Glen 2:31
for queer narratives and the potential queer narratives have? And like? Why can't gay people be portrayed as living happy lives?
Billie Grace 2:43
Basically, this is this is my personal plea to have a fun, gay character, who's who's in a story that isn't about the fact that they are gay. I, that's all I want.
Zoë Glen 2:58
That's all we're asking for.
One of our many bullet points to attempt to give this ramble some structure is, yes, very few queer narratives, that the whole point isn't queer narrative.
Billie Grace 3:10
Yes, please fix that.
Zoë Glen 3:15
And then I think in that it's kind of that um, yeah, the whole point is often the character is not cishet. And then it's also like, a tragedy.
Billie Grace 3:27
Yeah, I cannot think of a single say.. lesbian, film, or show or anything, actually, that doesn't result in some kind of tragedy, or isn't set to get some kind of tragedy, or just like, why, though?
Zoë Glen 3:45
All you get then is like, firstly, people don't like, realise that they're a lesbian, or that they're not cishet, or whatever, because there's no representation of that as an option, right? in their life. And then they do see some representation and they're like, Hmm, maybe that is me. But then it's like,
oh, no, just because all of this is bad. You know,
Billie Grace 4:12
yeah. Because it is constantly portrayed as a bad thing. It's constantly constantly portrayed as something like, Yeah, something that happens to you that nobody wants. And it's just infuriating.
Zoë Glen 4:25
Like, you want people to be able to, like, realise they see themselves in a character in a story and that'd be like, exciting.
Billie Grace 4:34
You know, because it is because discovering yourself is exciting, always!
Zoë Glen 4:41
It should be like Oh, cool. What a great thing.
Billie Grace 4:44
Yeah, yeah. Whereas making it tragic in whatever way just makes people believe that being queer in any way is tragic.
Zoë Glen 4:54
Yeah. Which its not
Billie Grace 4:57
Zoë Glen 4:59
So we kind of what we're considering is, I think summed up in a line like, what is the idea under women if a man is a character in crisis say about that?
Billie Grace 5:14
Uh huh. Yes. Yes, that is that is kind of our main thing that we're looking at. But I mean, as a collective, we're not. We're not all queer, but we're pretty queer. Just as, as a bunch of humans.
Zoë Glen 5:28
Yeah. In relation to the percentages in the general population? It's,
Billie Grace 5:33
yes, we're fairly queer. I don't know if this is relevant at all. But maybe it's kind of funny that before we became a collective, we were just a group of friends. And as most groups of friends, we had a group chat, which we very proudly named gay or European? because it is the best description.
Zoë Glen 5:52
Yeah, like you're one, the other, or your both
Billie Grace 5:56
So that Yeah, I guess that's, that's me just trying to be like, this is we have a right to be talking about this, even though
Zoë Glen 6:03
of course we do.
Billie Grace 6:05
Yes. But like, also, it's just like, yes,
Zoë Glen 6:08
it has, um, personal relevance. And it's starting to kind of inform bits of our professional practice and fix that we're looking at kind of the lens through which we're viewing stuff we're using as source material or stimulus, stimulus? stimuli?
Billie Grace 6:27
I was gonna say, because you just said that it's starting to inform our practice. And yes, it is maybe in a more like conscious way, or like we're more aware or more intentional,
Zoë Glen 6:38
we're like, oh, this is actively what we're looking at in this project.
Billie Grace 6:42
But another thing that we wanted to talk about is, how little space there is in, say, drama schools for accidental queerness, or just incidental queerness. Yeah, because again, I've always said like, because it's my identity, it is always part of my work. Yeah, no matter what it's about, it's always going to be part of my work, even if it's not a conscious choice, but that doesn't feel very nurtured in a lot of training, or, or in a lot of professional settings, either, I think.
Zoë Glen 7:21
And I think, yeah, it's kind of such an odd thing, because so many people in the arts are not cishet, right?
Billie Grace 7:29
Yes. Like,quite a lot.
Zoë Glen 7:31
It's kind of like thinking of people who we've met in training, met in like, at workshops, like while doing various theatry things like, I don't know that many straight people to be honest with you. I don't think theatre is the place to meet straight people. But yeah, there is kind of such a difference between, like general theatre spaces and stuff, like, specifically queer spaces, so like, um, bars that host drag nights, those kinds of spaces in how much breaking that heteronormative standard is actively permitted. And it's like people almost accidentally fall into heteronormativity, even if that is not who they are.
Billie Grace 8:18
Yeah, their identity. Yeah. Because it's somehow expected that for some reason, you know, you're you're making a play for some reason you think you don't even think you just instinctively portray heteronormativity? Essentially, in any Yeah, in any setting. You were saying the other day about um.. Because the, just before the pandemic, we had two separate devised chose that we worked on, and we were in different ones. But yeah, you were saying that, that..
Zoë Glen 8:51
I think it's interesting how even in and I think this is perhaps kind of why, why this is like, Of note to us is that so much of our background is devising And so much of that comes from I mean, sometimes you devise characters, but often you are performing as yourself as a kind of curated version of self
Billie Grace 9:10
It's the difference between persona and character No?
Zoë Glen 9:13
And so much of what would be devised would often end up being like, if there's a couple on stage, there is one male presenting person and one female presenting person. And that that's just very interesting, where, you know, because you know, these people personally, like how many of these people are not cishet, and yet in that curation of persona, that's one of the things that like consistently, often, unless you're looking specifically at like portraying a queer narrative..
Billie Grace 9:46
yeah, it's interesting. I mean, yeah, it's interesting, even thinking specifically, of one of the couples in that show, where neither of them says that, like, in real life, never would happen. And it wasn't characters. It wasn't really written, existing characters already -they devised that right?
Zoë Glen 10:03
Yeah. And it's just so interesting, like how that happens. But then it's like if all the theatre you are exposed to is heteronormative narratives.
Billie Grace 10:13
Yeah, of course, you think that that's what it has to be
Zoë Glen 10:15
yeah you're going to like subliminally absorb that and create heteronormative narratives.
Billie Grace 10:23
Yeah, it's interesting. Also, I remember, when I was younger, and first starting theatre, because I actually started theatre kind of late for for most people, I started in my teens. So I was already aware of my queerness. And I remember, um having the thought process of thinking like, Well, no, audiences don't want to see queer characters like that. We don't show that we don't. We don't say that out in the open. Like, I don't know why. Because the same way in which I know mostly queer performers, I also know mostly queer people who like to go to the theatre. Yeah, I mean, it's pretty much the same people.
Zoë Glen 11:03
Yeah. And it's like, it comes back to that thing of like, you have to, like justify why a character should be queer. And that just justification often takes the form of like that. That is the point of the narrative, or in that it's political. And it's like, people can exist without their existence being political. Yeah. So yeah, kind of, in this vein of just like, heteronormativity in spaces that it makes no sense. I mean, it never makes sense for me, heteronormativity. It's a stupid concept. But in spaces where it makes literally no logical sense how that has happened, I was talking to you a bit before this about like Meisner technique and how the idea of like, what a truthful impulse is. And it's this is not the only kind of technique often used in drama schools that uses this idea of like,
Billie Grace 12:04
Yeah. Or impulse even
Zoë Glen 12:06
yeah, and you then get into sticky territory of like, what is truthful, you know,
Billie Grace 12:11
Zoë Glen 12:12
And often that is decided by whoever is teaching, which
Billie Grace 12:18
especially in a drama school setting
Zoë Glen 12:20
which can often just lead to what is being encouraged or what is being validated as, like the right thing, being responses that are in line with like, heteronormativity. So like, if you're assuming all your students are strike, then you are encouraging impulses, that kind of follow the vein of like, feelings of romantic attraction and all of that, when you have like a young man, a young woman sat opposite each other, doing an exercise like that, which I'm like, you should not be assuming that your students are straight/
Billie Grace 12:58
Yeah, and actually, I can think of sort of the opposite as well, or not necessarily the opposite. But um, you know, these kinds of exercises, again, in devising and often using either Meisner or you know, using some kind of impulse based technique, I remember instances with two students of the same gender presentation or gender identity, taking it in taking, like this little improvised or whatever, into a romantic setting. Because I think I mean, I think the culture within a class is often different to the culture that happens in relation to the teacher. So yeah, it kind of it was happening, it occurred. And then I like, multiple, different occasions that I have this memory of various teachers just being surprised, at the very least just being like, oh, okay, I didn't think that would happen. And it's just like, why not? Why not? Exactly. I mean, that's the whole point of these exercises is you don't know what's going to happen. And I like but why. Why would a romance... because like, at the end of the day with romance in a story is one of the most used and maybe overused..uh... themes. So why is romance unexpected?
Zoë Glen 14:17
Or it's like when people are like, in response to hearing somebody is not like heterosexual. They're like, Oh, I thought.. I didn't want to assume it's like, okay, but so you were happy to assume that they were straight.
Billie Grace 14:33
I'm like, I assume you're gay. I don't know. You're talking to me. You're probably gay. I did. Yeah, I think we I think I need to put a disclaimer and when we talk about when we say gay, or we kind of just do mean anyone under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella
Zoë Glen 14:53
gay and queer as interchangeable umbrella terms.
Billie Grace 14:56
I'm not sure maybe maybe there is some kind of maybe we Shouldn't be - let us know if you think we shouldn't be. But this is how we always have spoken. Yeah. But that is what that means to us. Straight also to mean cishet. Yeah, not just straight. Yeah, I mean, I guess, we've talked a lot about devising and a lot about these personas that come from us, and therefore is strange that they are not occasionally queer. But there is also the fact that I can't recall any explicitly queer plays or maybe that we looked at.
Zoë Glen 15:38
I can't remember what happened in the rashdash one.
Okay, so yeah, we did the two man show by rash dash. Yeah. Which was queer in some ways, for sure. And we looked a bit at Helen Cisxous. A couple of her works, I think, which was also kind of queer, but very underlying, like not
Zoë Glen 16:00
Billie Grace 16:01
not a queer storyline
Zoë Glen 16:04
In kind of, like, I guess more traditional, less actively political. Yeah. Plays is where there is like a distinct lack of queer narratives.
Billie Grace 16:15
Yeah, look, I think, I think especially with the rashdash play, because because that's also a contemporary play. So yeah, maybe to think about, but it's like an actively, it's an act. It's a political act. That is a political act, which is cool. Yeah. Great.
Zoë Glen 16:33
We're not saying that there's not a place for like political queer theatre, because they're absolutely is. All down to make that consume that love that. But yeah. Like, your existence shouldn't have to be political, you know? Yeah. Like, you should have the permission to, like, either make work that represents yourself and bits of your identity, or to like, play characters that represent you or see characters that represent you without always being
a like, political things, you know,
Billie Grace 17:08
almost like a protest if he often feels like a protest. And I'm like, why? why
Zoë Glen 17:15
more gay, like sitcoms, or like,
Oh, my cheesy, like, romantic stories, or like....
Billie Grace 17:24
But also, I guess sit-coms, I don't know, I just thought of um.. Modern Family, which I absolutely adore. But that's not to say that it's not problematic in ways, because most of these things are, if anyone knows Mitch and cam, the gay couple in this family, but they are still so kind of what we were talking about earlier in ways they are homophobic, and in many ways, they are incredibly sexist. And like constantly pitting themselves against this lesbian couple, it's still constantly perpetuating this. I, I guess it's tokenizing.
Zoë Glen 18:00
Yeah, it's like they're very stereotypical representation, which is fine. It's like, there's room for that. But there needs to be room for other things..
Billie Grace 18:10
Yeah. And I mean, like, all of Modern Family, is that so fine. Okay. I guess that's what it is. But there's, that's just what came to me when he said sitcom, because the argument could be that there are gay characters in sitcoms, however,
it's not always great.
Zoë Glen 18:27
Yeah. I can think of in one day at a time, I don't know if you've seen it, but there's some really just like, lovely representation. And that it's like a very, it's a remake of the original one day at a time bits of it are on Netflix. And it's like a very, like, cheesy not funny, but kind of funny sitcom about a Cuban family living in I want to say, Los Angeles, but I probably got the wrong American city there. But a big city in America
Billie Grace 19:00
in America, yeah.
Zoë Glen 19:00
And it's just like a sitcom about their life. And like, the, like, grandmother still lives with them. And there's like, and they have a family with like a single mother. And it's all kind of just about that. But the older daughter in that Elena is a lesbian and then dates a non binary person. And that's kind of like, the narrative, but they also just do things like go to Comic Con together and like....exist and have other interests. That aren't being queer, you know? Yeah...more of that.
Billie Grace 19:33
Yeah. Because it's like being queer.. Yes, is a big part of my identity. But it's not everything. Not at all. Like most of what I...most of the time, I don't think about the fact that I'm queer.
Zoë Glen 19:46
And it's like, you can have a character who is not straight, but also not a man and also not white. And that's fine. You don't need
to pick one.
Billie Grace 19:55
Yeah. Yeah, you can and and The storyline doesn't have to be about that. Yeah. Even if it's not white, not a man and not straight? Whoa, yeah. Whoa.
Zoë Glen 20:10
bits of her storyline are about it because, you know, like she's a teenager. There's kind of more...
Billie Grace 20:16
right? I mean, it's in your, identity
Zoë Glen 20:19
yeah, there's kind of like the figuring out the like, intersection of that in a traditional family and all of that. But then yeah, it's not like this is this characters only function.
Billie Grace 20:31
Exactly. Yeah. Yes, more of that less of quirky white gay men who are just to be friends with beautiful women and go shopping, please. I can't, I can't watch any more of that.
Zoë Glen 20:47
It's like, um, I've been listening to a lot of Hayley kiyoko, who I
Billie Grace 20:53
I still haven't ventured into, into that.
Zoë Glen 20:56
She, I suppose she used to be on like Disney Channel or something. But now she's like a pop pop musician. And I think kind of one of the, like, few openly lesbian, like mainstream pop artists. But it's like, all of her music videos are this very, like 80s movies style, lesbian narratives, because that's what her music is. But it's so like, you don't realise how used you are to seeing heterosexual narratives in music videos. Until you until you're watching something that's not that.
Billie Grace 21:29
Zoë Glen 21:30
it's like this shouldn't feel so notable!
Billie Grace 21:34
Right? I mean, this is the whole thing. It's like even the fact that we have to be talking about this right now. I'm just like, Can we not? I don't know. Cuz it's again, it's, it's all of this. It's, you know, we're here talking or coming from a theatre background, but at the end of the day theatres, culture and, and it's a cultural issue. It's not just an issue within theatre. Yeah, though, within theatre, it just makes no bloody sense. Because,
Zoë Glen 22:01
yeah, I'm like, this being like, how does this continue to be perpetuated? Where are the straight people doing this perpetuating because I don't know where they are. Right?
Billie Grace 22:12
I don't I don't get it. And even on like courses, like ours, you know, that we didn't study traditional acting, we did not do mostly just plays. Yeah. Or just like, mostly just, we didn't even do any Shakespeare, which I'm a bit sad about, but whatever. But you know, it's like we have we haven't spent three years just looking at traditional, yeah, theatre, yet. It's still been overwhelmingly heteronormative
Zoë Glen 22:38
Yeah, and I'm not just like, I think of the stuff that I've watched. And it has either been very heteronormative or like, its function is to not be
Billie Grace 22:48
Zoë Glen 22:49
And I'm like, there's, there's so much accidental heteronormativity. And not enough, just like accidental, incidental. queerness. Yeah.
Billie Grace 22:59
But then at the same time, I don't know, I guess, how do you do that? I mean, because maybe, maybe we live in a world that really needs some kind of like that needs to be pushing it.
Zoë Glen 23:15
It's the thing of though.. like when like, say you're writing a play text at some point. Say you're giving your like..uhh.. female character, a romance narrative, right? There is either a conscious or subconscious decision to make that a heterosexual one
Billie Grace 23:33
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I mean, even more so like, yes, yes. It's very unusual to have a unconscious decision or just like a spontaneous decision to have a say non binary character. Yeah, trans character, or just gender queer character in any way. Like, that's maybe even more so then in relation to sexual orientation, gender identity that is just so completely stuck in that in the binary.
Zoë Glen 24:05
I feel like when devising something or when writing something, you should kind of be encouraged to ask like, okay, does the gender or sexuality or this also goes into other things like, disability race, like all, I guess, facets of identity, like, does this thing have significance? Like plot altering significance to the characters narrative? And if not, then, like, why not see what possibilities and like additions can be made to what you're making by writing a non binary character,you know?
Billie Grace 24:47
by representing someone who isn't cishet for once?
Zoë Glen 24:51
and also the thing of like, you see so many kind of like adaptations of older texts like your Shakespeare's, your chekhovs...all of that where it's like, wow, revolutionary. Did you know that this male character is now being played by a woman?
Billie Grace 25:06
Zoë Glen 25:07
or like, wow, revolutionary, we changed the pronouns and made it a same sex couple. Which, yeah, is not. Again, not necessarily bad, but I'm like, it's more the like, Wow, so edgy. Like, yeah, no.
Billie Grace 25:24
Yeah, something's interesting maybe in that, like redoing, I'm trying to think of the specific play that I that I saw that was done like that maybe I think it was done like that where a woman played a, a male character, but I can't remember for the life of me who it was now anymore what play it was. But I basically I do remember that it was so it was maybe a chekhov, maybe a Shakespeare. The point is, there was this character who - so me and my partner saw it....And we both were just like, it makes so much sense. This is played by a woman or that this is now being portrayed as a female character. And it's interesting to think actually about that maybe in relation to classical text, because I guess the stereotypes are like, the things that were allowed for male or female were so much narrower and so much more strict. In times when Chekhov was writing, or when he was writing that, um, yeah, it's things like that where you know, a person in power, unless it's Lady Macbeth is going to be a man. Um, and it's interesting to actually think about, like, Oh, well, maybe maybe the characteristics of this character, aren't necessarily masculine, or could work as as a woman or as, as a non binary person, or whatever.
Zoë Glen 26:51
It's yeah, just about considering that, like, culture is like a live and evolving thing. And we don't need to uphold the standards. Under which famous texts were written. Yeah. And we don't need to pretend that it's like, revolutionary, or making a massive political point to just apply our current day culture to an old text.
Billie Grace 27:19
Well, it's true, because because this like, you know, the idea of applying modern day culture to old texts, has been around for a very good 15/20 more years, my entire life for sure. But maybe, you know, in relation to race or in relation to, you know, I don't know, setting a Shakespeare in Brixton. I don't I don't know. And that that exists as an idea. And that has been happening for so long. And maybe it was kind of seen as as a revolutionary thing at the start of it, but it's not anymore. And I don't think changing people changing characters, gender identity, or gender representation, representation, gender...,
Zoë Glen 28:05
Billie Grace 28:06
presentation, gender presentation. Like I think I think we're way past the point of that being revolutionary.
Zoë Glen 28:12
Yeah. It's just like, people. The fact that people exist, is nothing new.
Billie Grace 28:18
Yeah, exactly. You know, exactly. And it's, yeah. But I think then, what I was trying to say maybe is the point of then, like, going back to this idea that we need to uphold these old texts and like preserve the tradition or whatever. Like, it's already not
Zoë Glen 28:36
like the tradition is gone. We don't live like we did in Shakespearean times.
Billie Grace 28:43
Yeah, exactly. The fact that we are still doing these plays, to me is already honouring the work enough, because clearly, there's something in them. Yeah, like, clearly, the fact that they have survived this long means that means that they're still somehow relevant or somehow our culture can still identify somehow with it.
Zoë Glen 29:03
Billie Grace 29:05
However, I don't know very many people who identify very much with a very traditionally done Chekhov.. Yeah. Like, look, I love Chekhov. I know lots of people don't I think those characters are incredibly written. But again, it's just that thing of like, but we don't have to do it exactly as it was written anymore.
Some of them aswell you read and you're like...this character is definitely not straight.
Oh my gosh.
Yeah, okay. Okay. Hang on. The character of the like a moody, pensive young poet. Yeah. But you see in every single one of these plays, they're not straight, not straight. and in this day and age why ignore that. Why pretend that that's not what it is because it clearly is like, I'm sorry. It clearly is
Zoë Glen 30:06
on that note.
Billie Grace 30:08
Zoë Glen 30:08
We've been talking for 40 minutes.
Billie Grace 30:11
Yeah. We rambled about the gay stuff.
Zoë Glen 30:15
We hope you enjoyed. There will be more of this as well.
Billie Grace 30:19
Zoë Glen 30:20
maybe guests? Who knows? What the future holds.. As always, please subscribe. If you're, wherever you're listening allows that leave us a rating and review if you're on Apple podcasts.
Billie Grace 30:36
That helps a lot. Give us give us five stars. Yeah. Like,
Zoë Glen 30:40
did you enjoy this ramble?
Billie Grace 30:43
Yeah, exactly. Do you not feel like we all just been sitting in in my kitchen and chatting about gay stuff. I mean, Zoe and I lived together. This is what most of our life looked like
Zoë Glen 30:57
What else....follow us on social media. We are at The not-god complex on Instagram and Facebook and at not-god complex on Twitter. Come say hi, follow us. Drop us a message. If you want to come on the podcast if you have anything you'd like us to talk about.
Billie Grace 31:14
Yeah, we are very responsive, and always open to collaboration and to ideas and to hearing people's thoughts. Yeah, so So come contact us. In case you missed the event that we have been plastering all over social media. There may be more. If you Yes. Keep an eye out on social media or have a look at on our website. We put everything that we're doing on there as long as...we remember to do it.
Zoë Glen 31:49
We hope you enjoyed. See you next month.
Billie Grace 31:55
See you next?
Zoë Glen 31:56
speak to you next month!
Billie Grace 32:00