We Bleed, performed in April 2007, was a humorous, tongue-in-cheek examination of the different roles that women play in society and their experience of the the male gaze and what it is to be a woman. In a collage of short scenes, the women strip back the layers of pretence they wear for society. It ends on a confrontational note.
The God-like Ted
The first thing the audience see when it enters the space is “Ted”, a stuffed man, sitting on an elevated chair above the seating area. The rest of the set comprises of two white screens towards the rear of the stage. When the audience enter, these screens are lit from behind to show the silhouettes of the women who are posing provocatively behind them. Etta James’ “I Just Wanna Make Love to You” starts to play and the women begin to dance in a provocatively and deliberately sexual fashion. They know they are being watched; not just by the audience but also by the God-like Ted. In his plaid shirt and jeans, Ted represents every-man, watching the women perform for him. As the actresses come out from behind the screen one by one all their attention is directed at him. They are wearing pretty, feminine, fifties-style dresses and rubber gloves, and they have tea-towels like gags in their mouths. They pose provocatively for Ted.
When they get no reaction from him, the women begin to compete for this attention in another way. They hope to win his approval by being the perfect house-wife. To do this they behave like household appliances. The room fills with the sound of cleaning as the mop, vacuum cleaner, dishwasher and washing machine compete against each other. The sounds get louder as the competition gets more heated until there is a clear winner and the vacuum cleaner finally gets her man.
Throughout the piece, the women continue to subvert their roles and move further and further away from typical femininity and lady-like behaviour. One woman delivers a tragically funny monologue about obsession and desire. However, her over the top devotion drives the unseen object of her affection away. Another monologue deals with the pain of being left by a man for no good reason other than someone newer and more exciting came along.
The piece also exploits the idea that women are merely sex objects in a scene where two “ad directors” encourage two female performers to make the product “more sexy” and to “give me more”. The women are just there to do as they’re told and use their bodies to sell the project. The idea that sex sells is turned on it’s head as the ads go too far, becoming crude and over the top. The scene ends when the woman selling water “wanks” the bottle to ejaculation.
The myth of women as pretty, sexy, obedient creatures is put to rest in the final scene when the one of the performers shaves her legs on stage, another swears violently while brushing her teeth and a third uses rice pudding to symbolise vaginal discharge, while reminding the audience that “lady’s knickers don’t always smell like roses.” The scene ends with the fourth performer writing the words ‘Fuck off’ on one of the screens in red paint using sanitary towels to symbolise menstrual blood.
The lights go down and the women exit the stage, leaving their final words and attitude towards society spot-lighted in the corner of the stage.